From Black & White to Blockbusters: How To Gain Marketing Inspiration From The Evolution of Movie Posters

From the earliest days of silent films to the CGI blockbusters of today, the evolution of film marketing can be studied through the evolution of the movie poster. Film technology, artistic trends, and economic shifts all played a part in the metamorphosis of today’s marketing powerhouse. Grab your popcorn and settle in for a journey through time, trends, and concepts behind movie poster innovations that can take your marketing campaigns to new heights. 

Stars, They’re Just Like Us

The earliest incarnations of movie posters served as the main marketing vehicle for promoting the newest releases. These movie artifacts are works of art in their own right, albeit forgotten ones. Often handpainted and meticulously rendered, these detailed antiquities are admirable for the time and consideration put into bringing stars and scenes to life. These small one-sheets are excellent inspirations for your own visual advertising strategy. This striking approach to marketing heavily featured the familiar faces of the silver screen such as Mary Pickford for the first time in history. Placing emphasis on your products or services through illustration and graphic design is the simplest way to establish an easy sales pitch. Giving personalized attention to familiar details on your promotional banner helps to build a stronger relationship between that of the commerce and the consumer. 

Stranger than Fiction

With the emergence of talkie films and a boom in ticket buying, the movie industry quickly exploded into an industrialized conveyor belt of content. Theatergoers became regulars at the box office. This rapid acceleration of production led to the increased need for multiple poster designs per movie. Teams of artists were onboarded to draw up similar but contrasting posters that encompassed the whole film as the product, rather than just the personalities behind it. Having a wide variety of designs to choose from helps keep your marketing campaigns fresh and might even allow you to repurpose a previously unutilized design for a new set of advertisements.  

Busting the Block

As televisions made their way into the homes of countless Americans in the 1950s, film studios battled the new entertainment kid on the block for audiences. Their comeback came in the form of blockbusting films in the 1970s. With hits like Jaws and Star Wars, Hollywood was once again able to compete with the accessible nature of television by injecting pop culture with new life. These films demanded to be seen on big screens and in order to get people into theaters, studios had to recalibrate their advertising strategies. With these changes came a more industrialized approach to film posters, harkening back to the artistic hand of the earliest era. Imploring designers to give posters an added artistic flair helped to reinvigorate the medium as a key selling point for feature films. As a small business owner, it is crucial for you to let your creativity off the leash from time to time in order to find reinvention in times of stagnation. Hitting a proverbial brick wall is only the starting point for creating something new and exciting once again. 

Lights, Camera, Action

With blockbusters once again proving to be bread and butter at the box office, marketing executives began to lean into the possibilities provided by film merchandising. The prospect of becoming a pop culture phenomenon became a fruitful possibility for film studios in the 1980s and into the early 90s. Establishing a quintessential motif or character is key in keeping the commercial appeal of your business relevant. Posters emblazoned with standout characters or scenes made coordinating toys, t-shirts, and other apparel a snap to produce. Small business has a great vantage point for realizing your brand’s full potential through this concept. Now often called guerilla marketing, the products for getting your brand & the imagery you create to support are practically limitless. Don’t be afraid to make bold and assertive creative choices.

Color Me Surprised 

The turn of the millennium brought about a digital revolution in the realm of the movie poster. Unlike illustrated spectacles of days past, studios were turning to the possibilities offered by CGI and photoshop to create breathtaking marketing campaigns. Films of the early aughts, such as The Matrix, Spider-Man, and Pirates of the Caribbean utilized vibrant and unique color palettes that were further enhanced by digital technology. These engaging visuals were reflected in their poster designs that appealed directly to consumers’ subliminal psychological preferences. Embrace color schemes that complement each other, evoking a strong limbic response in passerbys. Pairing blue and orange together is a common practice in visual storytelling in all markets, not just the film industry. Consult the film posters of this era as well as the prismatic color wheel & color theory for some inspirational color palettes that will make your promotional flags pop.

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