Inside the Creative Marketing for All 9 Best Picture Oscar Nominees

Campaigns that matched, and even elevated, the films

With the Super Bowl come and gone, all eyes are on the Academy Awards this Sunday. And while most conversations focus on the films themselves, we wanted to celebrate the creative marketing campaigns that led this year's Best Picture nominees. 

Each of the nine nominees differed in its marketing style. For example, we won't soon forget the inventive use of title treatment for 1917. Or the way the Ford v Ferrari campaign smartly combined action, character development and a bromance. Then there was the epic sound design and editing of The Irishman's A/V work—it felt both fresh and classic, like the film itself. And let's not forget the wit of the Jojo Rabbit campaign; it kept us on our toes every step of the way. 

Then there was Joker, which was emotionally charged and forced audiences to examine their own biases about mental health. The campaign was eye-opening, remarkable, and heartbreaking with every new piece that was released. Then there was the Little Women campaign, which took an old story and showed how the challenges faced by women in 1868, when the novel was published, still resonate today. The marketing called out our societal discriminations and pushed us in the right direction. 

One of my favorite marketing campaigns of the year was Marriage Story. The campaign exquisitely reminded us that there are two sides to every divorce and encouraged us to consider each. Of course, our minds were blown by the Parasite campaign, too—and then the film itself. And last, but certainly not least, was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the 1960s Quentin Tarantino fantasy that brought illustrated key art back into the limelight, and cleverly marketed the Rick Dalton's films-within-the-film. 

Aside from being brilliant movies, each of the Best Picture nominees got a smart marketing campaign that kicked off the conversation. Take a moment to revisit the riveting marketing behind each of them below.


1917

Studio: Universal Pictures
Trailer Agency: Motive Creative
Poster Agency: Concept Arts 

I'm not surprised 1917 is being hailed as one of the best pictures of the year. The inventive, stylized marketing promised we weren't dealing with just another war film—that everything about this film would be unique. The campaign felt original every step of the way—from the key art, which brilliantly brought to life the title treatment, to the trailer, which stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. The stylistic decision to intertwine the shot with the title treatment had the entertainment marketing world buzzing. The marketing was shocking and eerie, yet beautifully poetic. It evokes the intensity of its grave subject—bravo to all teams involved in taking a risk on this campaign. 

1917 - Official Trailer [HD]

Ford v Ferrari 

Studio: 20th Century Fox & Disney Studios 
Trailer Agency: The Refinery
Poster Agency: LA: Lindeman Associates

I was floored when the marketing for Ford v Ferrari started rolling out—it was fast, fun, but also filled with depth and rich story. The marketing wonderfully blended action and drama. The first trailer was one hell of a ride! Not only was it action-packed, but it built an interest in the characters and story, specifically highlighting the magnificence that can happen when you challenge industry standards. Don't forget to appreciate the beautiful key art. The film, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, raced into theaters Nov. 15.

FORD v FERRARI | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

The Irishman

Studio: Netflix 
Trailer Agency: Open Road Entertainment
Poster Agency: Concept Arts

Based on the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, had the world talking—a lot about the length, but mostly about the cinematic marvel of the film. The grand style of the film was emulated through the marketing materials. When it came to the A/V, the editing and sound design were jolting and increased the intensity of every passing second. The trailer itself offered story and character development. In two minutes and 20 seconds, you get a feel for every character—which is brilliantly done through fast and furious cuts that come at you like bullets. The music choice for the trailer can't go unmentioned. It's fun, it's funky, and it sets a tone for what we can expect from the film. The key art celebrates the classic element of Scorsese and the mobster genre—not to mention three screen icons.

The Irishman | Official Trailer | Netflix

Jojo Rabbit

Studio: Fox Searchlight
Trailer Agency: Mark Woollen & Associates   
Poster Agency: In-House

From the scintillating mind of Taika Waititi comes his latest satire, Jojo Rabbit. The story of a young boy in Nazi Germany who has Adolf Hitler as an imaginary friend offers an intriguing look at boyhood and nationalism. The marketing for the film was fresh every step of the way—from the teaser key art to the original content material mocking the führer, even the "For Your Consideration" outdoor campaign felt fresh. The trailer brilliantly juxtaposed war and childhood, and the confusion of morality with both. Not to mention, the music selection was top-notch. What I loved most about the character key art was the impressive way it explained each character through one image—a picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

JOJO RABBIT | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Searchlight

Joker

Studio: Warner Bros.
Trailer Agency: JAX 
Poster Agency: BOND

One of the most memorable films and marketing campaigns of the year was the Joker. What I loved most about the campaign was the bravery. It wasn't trying to mask itself as another superhero picture. This campaign and film were so much more—offering a captivating and compassionate character study looking at mental health and how our cruel and disconnected society can drive someone to villainous behavior. The teaser poster captured the joy of destruction most splendidly and terrifyingly. Then came the Clio Entertainment Grand Clio-winning teaser trailer, which explores the life of the man behind the makeup. Warner Bros. could have wilted in the face of the controversy around the campaign, as the vigilante violence felt personal amid our era of heightened gun violence. However, the marketing team stood by the campaign, championing what the film had to say about mental health. Kudos to the brave creatives behind this campaign. 

JOKER - Teaser Trailer - In Theaters October 4

Little Women

Studio: Sony Pictures
Trailer Agency: Giaronomo 
Poster Agency: WORKS ADV

One of the most beautiful campaigns of the year was for Greta Gerwig's rendition of the Louisa May Alcott classic, Little Women. What the film and marketing campaign did well to differentiate itself from the earlier renditions was to play on the cultural context that is just as relatable in 2019 as it was in 1868—a woman's role in society. The marketing materials focused heavily on the "Little Women" as female artists and their desire to be recognized on the same level as men. Considering it's another year without women being nominated in the Best Director category, this telling of Little Women feels fresher than ever. The trailer nicely captures the feminist feel, while the key art played on the connection of sisterhood. You can always come home again, to Little Women. It will be there waiting for the next generation. 

LITTLE WOMEN | Official Trailer (HD)

Marriage Story

Studio: Netflix 
Trailer Agency: Mark Woollen & Associates  
Poster Agency: BLT Communications 

Perhaps the most poetic marketing campaign of the year was for Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story. I will never forget the his-and-hers trailers and posters that kicked off the marketing campaign. They were gorgeous, heartbreaking, and recognized there are two sides to every divorce and the inescapable and suffocating pain of a deteriorating marriage. These pieces, combined with the key art, are the definition of bittersweet. 

Marriage Story | Teaser Trailer (What I Love About Charlie) | Netflix
Marriage Story | Teaser Trailer (What I Love About Nicole) | Netflix

Parasite

Studio: Neon
Trailer Agency: Zealot  
Poster Agency: N/A

Like the film itself, the marketing campaign for Parasite will blow your mind. The trailer starts calm and gradually picks up the pace, then drops like a roller coaster and does a 180, changing your ideas of the story in seconds. The editing is fast and smart, while the sound design and score will send shivers down your spine. The key art is equally as cunning. The mise-en-scène of the poster tells so much of the story; you just don't realize it until you see the film. Parasite was clever from all sides. 

Parasite [Official Trailer] – In Theaters October 11, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Studio: Sony Pictures
Trailer Agency: Buddha Jones 
Poster Agency: BLT Communications

Quentin Tarantino's ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a love letter to Hollywood. It's Hollywood in 1969, at the end of cinema's golden era. A fading star, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), are trying to make it big. The fairy tale turns dark when Rick discovers his new neighbor is Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and soon the Manson Family follows. OUATIH was undoubtedly the most fun marketing campaign of the year. The trailer drew audiences in with its wit and style, without giving up too much story. Then there was the fantastic key art throughout the campaign, including the gorgeous illustrations and smart posters for Rick Dalton's fake films. Like the movie itself, the marketing campaign for OUATIH was witty, delightful with detail, and fun as hell. 

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD - Official Trailer (HD)
Ashley Falls
Ashley Falls is director of Clio Entertainment.

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