This just in... Trailers Are Advertisements


Written By:

Michael McDonald

This video from Vice News may have posted a while back but the phenomenal popularity of and interest in movie trailers hasn’t slowed so why should I?

In case you aren’t a movie student or marketing savvy individual and you haven’t watched the above video, let me summarize it for you.

Movie Trailers are big business. They used to be just little summaries of the movie but with internet discussion and dissection of trailers becoming its own cottage industry, trailer culture is at an all time high. More people watch them, entire youtube channels are dedicated to them, fan theories spark from them, they have their own red carpet premiere events and awards shows, and of course, businesses have risen to create more and more attention grabbing trailers than ever before.

This should come as no big surprise. As our culture becomes more media dominated our attention spans and bandwidth for an entertainment source that lasts 2 1/2 hours has severely lagged. Our obsession with business and commercialism, our short attention spans, and our addiction to ephemeral chemical releases in our brain have all conspired to create the true alternative to film: trailers.

I’m not saying that movie trailers are useless or anything like that but it is strange that people seem so obsessed with a form of ‘art’ that is tantamount to writing ad copy. If you doubt me, just Watching the Vice News video will tell the tale. They openly admit that the purpose of a trailer is not about showing you what the movie will be like but rather, convince you to see it. They drop in sound effects and standard music hits as a sort of language or AV buzzword that will spark those dopamine hits to create a favorable association.

What strikes me is not that this is the case. Anyone with one eye open can see the crass commercialism in it, but what does strike me is how willingly we participate in the process. Freaking out over every 20 second, voice overed, and tantalizing teaser doesn’t make the movie better, doesn’t validate anyone’s opinions, and doesn’t do anything more that convince studios that the trailer strategy they are employing is working. They put a COMMERCIAL online and people watch it so many times that they actually get ad revenue on top of the fact that we watch their ad.

Your opinions, what you watch, what you engage with, and what you share with your friends has value. Don’t sell yourself short. Do what you can to resist the corporate hype machine which mines people for what they find valuable about them. For some, this may mean you decide not to watch trailers anymore. For most people, it means just being aware of what trailers are and how we engage with them.

Can you imagine calling your friends and sharing with them the Walmart ad on black friday? Maybe? How about doing a dissection video of the ad, trying to glean facts about the product from it and speculating about the eventual purchase? Not so much.

That really is all a trailer is these day. It’s fancier, flashier, and Inception-Bwooooong-ier, but at the end of the day, it’s still a glorified commercial.