Cruel Intentions


A campaign aims for fans of a bound-and-gagged Naomi Watts

Do you want to play a game? Probably not with the two psychotic young men who take a mother, father and son hostage, and torture them in Funny Games. The film is a shot-by-shot remake of the controversial 1997 film of the same name, with the Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke once again at the helm.

Haneke, who has a history of exploring violence and the media in his work, seeks to subvert the torture porn genre with Funny Games and force audiences to not only witness violence on screen but to own up to their complicity in it. With males ages 18-to-24 in mind, the studio and creative entertainment advertising agency Hammer Creative designed a marketing campaign for Funny Games that features traditional media, including TV spots, print ads and outdoor, but relies heavily on Web elements tying into Haneke's modus operandi. A series of viral videos were seeded on sites such as YouTube, and; a Varitalk customized audio/video application; and a Facebook application/quiz that poses the question: How F**k'd Up Are You?

So how does this campaign rate? OMMA asked three film-loving digital creatives: Scott Cohn of Night Agency, Dana Deskiewicz of Deep Focus and Campfire's Mike Monello, a producer of The Blair Witch Project. Shall we begin?

OMMA: The movie's Web site is at the center of this campaign. Are you drawn in by the opening image of the white gloves on the bloody golf club?

Deskiewicz: It is compelling. I like how they take advantage of the entry point to give you the heebie-jeebies.

OMMA: After the loading screen, you are taken right into a full-screen clip from the movie. Is it a good idea to deliver a movie clip up front?

Cohn: It is smart and engaging to draw the user right into the preview. If you want to sell something, you've got to put it out there - you've got to put it up front.

OMMA: What do you think of the living room scene on the site that gives you the ability to click on the characters and see more film footage and get information about the actors?

Deskiewicz: I like the aspect of the navigation being very user's choice. Do you go with Naomi Watts' character? Do you go with Tim Roth's character? And how it plays out; it's not your standard click here for downloads, click here for a synopsis, click here for more content.

Monello: Structurally, it's really interesting. But I am disappointed in the content after you get through the other clips. You click on Naomi Watts, and you see a clip of her trying to escape, and that's interesting. But then you get to a page with a picture of Naomi Watts with a list of movies she's been in. I was expecting more.

OMMA: One of the main features of the site is a Varitalk customized audio/video application: You can send a friend a video in which they see a person who is supposed to be you bound inside a bag being beaten with a golf club; then they get a call from the film's psychos a few minutes after viewing the video.

Cohn: The execution relies on the novelty of the media and falls a little short in what they did with it. I've seen other executions where you have a much wider range of choices in terms of what you can do with the audio or the video itself. This is pretty much a stock video that you're going to see every time, and it seems that the goal here would be to give the user something that they can be involved in and make their own. But they're really not giving you much to customize.

Deskiewicz: It could have gone further. I like the aspect of sending this along to your friends, but I think they could have pushed it further - either with what the content was and the way they filmed it, or how it ties into one user engaging with another user.

Monello: When you get to the end of this film and the call, it all leads up to a message of basically, visit for more. This is an audience that likes to dig and explore, and I felt like they could have given them more of a scare, a jolt, and sent them somewhere that wasn't necessarily so they could explore more and find their way to it.

OMMA: So you would have liked more mystery?

Monello: Yes. To me, the reason Cloverfield's marketing or even The Blair Witch Project's marketing worked so well was because they didn't give you answers. They gave you questions. Then they gave you a place to go to get your questions answered. I feel like with this demographic in particular - there was an opportunity to do that.

OMMA: There are also viral videos. One titled "Your Users Guide to Home Invasion" recuts footage from Funny Games into a 1950s-style educational film. Do these virals work?

Deskiewicz: They seem a little forced. The one I find out of place is "Your Users Guide to Home Invasion," with the quirky music and style and voiceover. It doesn't quite fit into the genre of the film. It is more like this might be fun to pass around rather than taking advantage of the darkness of the film.

OMMA: Is it tough to repurpose scenes from a film and give them a context that could make for strong virals?

Cohn: It's a really tough thing, and my hat's off to the creatives who were tasked with doing that. I don't really like to take another person's finished work and recut or try to repurpose it. It doesn't feel right, and I really can't imagine [Haneke] signing off on that. His whole platform is he's very anti-Western propaganda-marketing-commercialism, so I think these tactics are very at odds with his philosophy.

OMMA: What did you make of the quiz on Facebook? Are Facebook quizzes passé yet?

Cohn: It's something that's been done, but I wouldn't call it passé because it seems to be effective. People like movie quizzes, so I think that that's smart.

Monello: It definitely is right for this demographic, but it feels like there was so much more they could do on Facebook. I think it might have been interesting if there was a Facebook game tied into the Varitalk video.

Deskiewicz: Anybody can create a quiz and generate results, but I think it might have been nicer to have a friend engage another friend in "How F**k'd Up Are You?" Maybe posing the questions back and forth, or using the SuperPoke idea of pushing someone and seeing how far you can push them.

OMMA: Does this campaign jibe with the purported goal of the film?

Monello: I haven't seen the film, but the reviews call it a comment on violence in the media and the way we laugh at this violence when we go to movies like Saw and we're entertained by people being tortured. But when I saw the Web site, it gave me the sense that the film is exactly what it pretends to criticize. Maybe that's intentional. Maybe they're hoping that they'll draw the audience in and make them really uncomfortable by confronting them and asking them why they're into this kind of thing.

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