About Those Leaked Comic-Con Trailers – Broken Bonds of Trust and Unprepared PR

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In the age of smartphones that are capable of taking photos or video and instantly uploading them to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media, it is unsurprising to me that the X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, and Suicide Squad Comic-Con exclusive trailers were leaked shortly after their panels ended this past weekend. I’m actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Once they hit the internet they spread like wildfire. Even I shared the Suicide Squad one myself, so I’m no angel either.

The studios were obviously not happy about this, and Sue Kroll, President of Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution for Warner Brothers gave this statement.

“We have no plans currently to release the Suicide Squad footage that leaked from Hall H on Saturday. It’s unfortunate and ultimately damaging that one individual broke a long-standing trust we have enjoyed with our fans at the convention by posting early material, which, at this point, was not intended for a wider audience. We are still in production on Suicide Squad, and will have a big campaign launch in the future. Our presentation yesterday was designed to be experienced in that room, on those big screens!”

She has previously spoken out about this, when Batman v Superman footage was leaked last year. But things change, tempers flare and relax, and we move on. So Warner Brothers released the trailer online earlier today despite their statement to the contrary. And it was the right thing to do.

The studios need to understand that this is going to happen more and more often going forward, and they need to be prepared in the future. As it is right now the studios have a major misunderstanding of how technology plays a role in fan interaction with their brands. Fan attention is the best resource they have at their disposal to pimp these films, as evidenced by the fact Deadpool is actually being made because of the fan support of the leaked proof-of-concept reel. The Warners and Fox PR people should have had a trailer ready to go online immediately after the panel ended. The way they did with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice respectively.

Alternatively, they could livestream the panels, as many already do, including the convention not-so-exclusive footage for those stuck at home. This would be a great compromise in many ways. The only problem with these possible solutions is the inevitable Catch-22. Either the studios keep doing what they’re doing and then get upset at the crappy, bootlegged versions of the trailers found online, or they post the trailers online or stream them and create a backlash from the fans who actually sat in on these panels to see something no one else would get to see.

The fans are chomping at the bit for any glimpse of these movies, and if the studios aren’t prepared to give them what they want, they’ll find their own way. After all, a sizzle real or movie trailer is a marketing tool, and marketing tools are meant to be seen. Is it really pirating if it’s a glorified commercial? Isn’t that just fan-advertising? It’s all marketing, does it really matter how it gets out there?

It’s time for the studios using comic conventions to promote their brands to join us in the internet age. To keep up they will have to adapt, embrace how badly the fans want to see these movies, and use it to their advantage to drive the hoards wild. The only alternative I can see is the logistical nightmare of everyone being frisked and having to turn their phones in at the beginning of the panel. But no matter what they do to try and stop it from happening, the fans will find a way. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing if used to their advantage.

Not that I’m condoning the leaks, mind you. When you enter Hall H you also enter into a contract. You are joining the studio in a bond of trust, something that has been working out nicely for many decades. It really isn’t fair to the studios who prepare these exclusive teasers for those in attendance, or to the fans who waited in line, sometimes for days, just to get a glimpse of something unique made just for them. The studios work long and hard to produce something special for these hardcore fans, and to have it spoiled within hours of the panel’s end is breaking the longstanding tradition of, you know, not spoiling it.

One bad apple really can ruin the bunch, and the studios are talking about not doing these exclusive teasers in coming years, all because some guy had to break their trust. I don’t know how serious they are about it, but I think that’s the wrong way to go about it for both the fans and the studios. The only way to make sure nobody leaks your exclusive panel footage is to post it online immediately afterward, or just not show any at all. Which of these makes more sense from a marketing perspective. And isn’t that all Comic-Con is to the studios and publishers? It’s all about marketing, and though it wasn’t ideal, the leaks have people talking, and it all seems very positive. All of this for a blurry, crap quality version of what was eventually released. Imagine how much more excited these same people would have been for an official trailer.

Anytime Costumes

2 Comments

  1. ihatepeacocks July 13, 2015 Reply
    • Avatar photo Carl R. Jansson July 13, 2015 Reply

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