How Capitol is Too Capitol?
We’re 93 days from the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and we’re starting to see more and more of Lionsgate’s marketing push. So why is it so hard to get excited about it all this time around?
In 2011 and 2012, I’m sure a lot of you can remember fawning all over every new image or piece of marketing. Capitol Couture was wicked cool and the .PN domains were amazing. The nail polish was an awkward topic, but lots of us still wanted them. Effie’s butterfly eyelashes were amazing and we all hurried to get our Panem ID cards where we were placed into one of the 12 districts.
But somehow this time around, things are different. I know I’m not alone. And maybe it’s because deep down, the real Hunger Games fan in me still lives. And that part of me–the part that was drawn to a girl’s will to protect her family from government oppression at all costs–just doesn’t care about Capitol fashions that are sort of just weird and too Capitol for my liking. It annoys me that Lionsgate feels the need to use the hashtag #UrAHungerGamesFan, leaving me mildly insulted that a series with such a serious message is being dumbed down so much in official marketing.
Their marketing campaign has somehow seemed split into three different fronts: trailers, a neverending supply of posters (27 as of today), and Capitol Couture. The posters look amazing, though one has to wonder how many more they intend to release at this rate. Their trailers are very heavily focused on oppression, rebellion, and the tragedy of the Games. I love this angle. It makes me confident that Francis Lawrence hasn’t missed the bigger picture in bringing Lionsgate’s next big blockbuster to the world.
Catching Fire’s online marketing campaign is a completely different story. Most of their online presence can be found at Capitol Couture. Red Carpet contests, bizarre “District” looks, fashion icon stories, a real-life line of make-up with Cover Girl, and a summer edition titled “Zoetic Sol”.
Last year we saw spectacular faux ads of Caesar’s toothpaste, Seneca’s razor, and Cinna’s eyeliner. This year, we have a perfume made by Cinna, but the ad has practically nothing to do with The Hunger Games. I have no idea who the model in the ad is. And while I understand that it’s viral marketing, I don’t understand how that would make anyone curious without a recognizable face. And there are billboards of this ad.
It’s tough to criticize their marketing because they obviously did something right the first time around and The Hunger Games went on to be a smashing success.
But we fans are still around and I think many of us that excused all of the upper class roleplaying the first time around are starting to feel like this is stepping over some weird invisible line of being way too Capitol for our tastes. After all, the Capitol embodies everything Katniss hates in the world. I don’t even have to pretend I’m channeling Katniss when I frown at the latest Capitol Couture update that I just-don’t-understand. It really doesn’t interest me.
So that begs the question: Has Lionsgate gone too Capitol? A Capitol-based campaign obviously holds the most potential for glamour and beauty, but is that what Hunger Games fans want? And is that what will draw people back into theaters?
It’s possible this is all part of Lionsgate’s grand marketing scheme and we’ll eventually move into a Capitol marketing campaign disrupted by rebels, but for now it’s hard for me to see into the distance. A while back I’d suggested to the studio that they do short background profiles on the victors to release before the film. These tributes are victors. They’re not your ordinary tributes. They all won a Hunger Games. They do seem to be doing it starting with Johanna Mason, which is great. But it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t care about the rest of it, which seems like a lot of wasted effort.
With 24 victors, it goes without saying that a full blown marketing campaign on all the tributes is a ridiculous endeavor, which is why we have only been seeing posters for the more important characters.
But no offense to Cinna, I’d rather read some made up background story on Woof than stare at a strange fake perfume ad. And while you could ask whether a non-book fan would care about Woof, the answer is probably not. But that same non-book fan probably doesn’t care about l’Essence d’un Champion either, so what difference does that make?
A Capitol campaign that disturbingly glorifies The Hunger Games and its victors is still Capitol, but in a way fans can directly relate to because it’s based on story rather than setting. Their Quarter Quell Look Book is a step in the right direction because it makes a statement of how perverse Capitol citizens are to even bother to rate the look of people who will soon be murdered. The rest of it, sadly, just seems like unimportant Capitol fluff.
I’m not saying that Lionsgate shouldn’t be doing Capitol Couture at all, but it does seem like they’re pouring a whole lot of effort into something that’s not very appealing to the majority of its fanbase. I can’t speak for all of you, but I want to feel like the marketing is directly tied to The Hunger Games and the fandom, yet all Capitol Couture seems to do is make me feel like I don’t fit in. And that’s definitely too Capitol for my liking.