The greatest form of marketing is creative marketing. Who doesn’t love a good dose of nostalgia every now and then? Whether it’s gas prices dropping because “The Wonder Years” is back on TV, or all your favorite actors suddenly posting pictures with red balloons, there’s nothing like experiencing a blast from the past. Since I moved to Los Angeles, I’m constantly being offered freebies like flowers and NFT coupons all circulating to spread the word for TV shows and movies. It’s nearly impossible to leave my house without being inundated by advertisements. When it comes to horror films, though, surprise marketing can be as freaky as it is fun.
The Paramount horror flick “Smile” is set to be released in theaters this week and the film’s marketing team is throwing the whole house into a frenzy this weekend with a strategy that appears to include a website, a hotline, and — perhaps most surprisingly — several creepily smiling audience plants, which is both amusing and terrifying.
Jomboy Media recognized the latter phenomenon in a Twitter post, sharing a video of a security guard approaching a woman at an MLB game who was smiling unnervingly and wearing a yellow shirt with the word “Smile” on it. The audience member’s positioning in the shot, with her intense and unwavering smile, seemed perfect for haunting the background. People began recognizing smilers at other live events, too.
Erik Davis of Fandango shared several examples of people smiling in a Twitter post, including at a Yankees game, a Dodgers game, and even on “The Today Show.” In another photo, a grinning woman can be seen glaring menacingly just over weatherman Al Roker’s shoulder.
But wait there’s more. There’s also a new viral marketing website linked to “Smile” called smilesightings.com. Users can report grins they notice in the world or post photographs of themselves or their friends using “Smile” on Snapchat. The site informs visitors with the following message: “If you see a smile, call 201.365.4067.” And calling the number will lead to a recorded message.
Parker Finn’s feature directorial debut is gaining a lot of attention for its originality. The film surrounds a phenomenon that causes those who witness it to see grins everywhere before they too meet a gruesome end. The film, which premiered at Fantastic Fest last night, follows the friendship between four friends (Sosie Bacon, Kyle Gallner, and Caitlin Stasey) as they grow into adults in a small town. Film critic Jacob Hall calls it the epitome of “the pretty good horror movie” – one that doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. Meanwhile, Chris Evangelista’s review calls portions of the film “truly frightening,” but he also recognizes how reliant it is on conventional patterns.
Whether you love it or hate it, “Smile” is sure to get people talking. So if you see someone smiling a little too much this weekend, don’t say we didn’t warn you. “Smile” hits theatres this Friday, September 30th, 2022!