The abandoned Hobbiton set from The Lord of the Rings, located in Matamata, New Zealand, is now inhabited by a flock of sheep from a nearby farm and, if my sources are correct, Sean Astin. The animals graze during the day and snuggle up into the hobbit holes at night while a now-trim Astin, still wearing his elven cloak and fake big hairy feet, subsists on open-fire-roasted lamb, wild fruit, and water from a nearby stream.
Astin’s situation is as happy as it is sad, just as many things are in what the Maoris call “the land of the long white cloud” and Hollywood calls “a fuckin’ gold mine.” Besides the movies about the wizard and his prepubescent concubine, the Kiwis have hosted the productions of The Adventures of Tintin, 30 Days of Night, The Last Samurai, Yogi Bear, and a bunch of other flicks that may or may not be terrible.
If whoever’s running Hollywood were smart, they’d do one better and take notice of New Zealand’s movie ad campaigns—specifically those from Saatchi & Saatchi and DDB. The stuff they come up with has long been putting billboards and campaigns in the US and the rest of the world to shame. Maybe asking for the Kiwis’ guidance on a global scale could even get more people to see the stinkers that keep plopping into movie theaters.
All images courtesy of Ivan Raszl at adsoftheworld.com
‘Kill Bill’ billboard
Saatchi & Saatchi
When this billboard first went up in 2008 and images of it began circulating, accusations of “Fake!” and “Photoshop!” were made by forum trogs across the internet. Understandable. But it was the real deal, erected in promotion for the government-owned TV2’s debut of Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Yes, a state-run television station paid for this tangible bloody mess of an installation, complete with prop cars strewn around one of the busiest intersections in Auckland.
Where was this idea when the movie was theatrically released in the US? Instead we got two versions of the poster: one featuring the Bride holding her katana, dressed in her trademark yellow tracksuit and Asics Onitsuka Tigers, and another that depicted a close-up of a hand holding the sword overtop Japanese characters. Typical, unimaginative, safe Hollywood crap.
‘Knocked Up’ mall installation
Americans got a poster that could barely contain fatheaded Seth Rogan and an alternate version with Rogan on a waiting-room couch next to America’s No. 1 hate-fuck fantasy, Katherine Heigl. Tension. The Kiwis, however, cranked it up a billion notches by erecting a gigantic fish tank filled with tadpoles for the movie’s SKY TV premiere. To create the spermy effect, DDB’s production team did it the hard way and collected hundreds of tadpoles from local ponds. Then they filled an unfertilized human-egg model (made out of a big sponge) with fish food and let the little guys go at it.
Who, except for humorless PETA asswipes, wouldn’t like to see this while strolling through the mall? It’s entertaining for adults and educational for kids. But if someone tried to do this in America, Rick Santorum would hold a stump speech next to it and everyone’s fun would be ruined.
‘AlieN vs. Predator’
Admittedly, the American yin-yang-ish poster was pretty damn cool looking, but it was too serious. If you went to see this film non-ironically, you’re an idiot, no question about it. It should have been marketed and advertised as a comedy. You think anybody in the pitch meetings for this piece of shit wasn’t laughing his or her ass off? The Kiwis at DDB understood this. So they created a SKY TV broadcast ad with the two protagonists playing a game of tetherball (or swing ball, as it’s called in New Zealand). Slow. Clap.
Saatchi & Saatchi
Stateside audiences got Christian Bale holding a big fucking shiny knife with the yawner line “Monsters Are Real.” (Thinking about it, “Monsters Are Real Funny” would have been a good tagline for Alien vs. Predator.)
To promote an airing of the film on TV2 (can you say “best client ever”?), the designers at Saatchi managed to fashion an image of a man’s necktie and streaks of blood on a dress shirt into an American flag—graphic violence. To promote the same showing, they also put up a not-at-all-great, maybe fake billboard that mocked George W. Bush. Making fun of Bush in an ad is just too damn easy. Still, it’s bluntly funny, mostly because that guy doesn’t know shit about movies, advertising, New Zealand, or anything that can’t be found in Texas.
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