The New Age of Publicity Stunts: “Smile”

Have you seen any trailers for the blockbuster movie “Smile?” I haven’t, either. The new film made about $39.3 million in its first week of box ticket sales. Arguably, this number is attributed to their creative marketing scheme, which has recently gone viral. If you’ve been watching any baseball lately and noticed someone giving a creepy smile behind the home plate wearing a bright yellow “Smile” shirt, this was no accident. Some members of the scheme have even been spotted in the front row of the audience during morning show broadcasts nationwide.

This was Paramount’s sole marketing plan for the movie. They sent people to televised events to stand the entire time and smile while directly looking into the camera. This particular stunt is considered guerilla marketing, a specific type of marketing that aims to increase brand awareness without creating any waves at a low cost. In the past, other movies have been promoted using this same strategy, like “Deadpool” and another hit thriller, “It.”

Social media played a pivotal role — the spotted smiles were trending. Millions of views and likes were brought to Twitter and Tik Tok, generating conversations regarding the harrowing smiles. This PR stunt catalyzed a tremendous amount of online buzz about the film without streaming any trailers.

When people think of publicity stunts, they might assume the ploy is evident, in-your-face, flashy, and high-budget to pull off. Yet, this movie marketing scheme proves that some PR stunts do not need to have those characteristics to be successful.

Autumn Jerman, Account Executive


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