Movie Marketing Madness: The Edge of Seventeen
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is a kind of generally miserable teenager in the new movie The Edge of Seventeen from writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig. She has a best friend in Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) but doesn’t get along with her uncaring and unsympathetic mother (Kyra Sedgwick) and has nothing in common with her brother Darian (Blake Jenner), who’s the most popular guy in school and the best at everything he tries. That and she longs for one of the boys in her school, who may or may not even know she exists.
The dynamic of Nadine’s life is upended by a series of events. Her confrontations with her mother come to a head, she finds out Krista is in love with Darian and the two are dating and she has an awkward encounter via text with the boy she likes. All of that adds up to a very bad period in Nadine’s life, increasing her sense of being an outsider. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel with someone who likes her, though it’s no one on her radar at the time. Let’s see how the studio is selling this tale of teenage alienation.
The movie’s poster is alright but nothing special. It just shows Steinfeld giving what can only be described as a full body sigh, looking upward as if she’s asking God what the heck is going on and why is she suffering like this. “You’re only young once…is it over yet?” the copy at the top asks, signaling clearly that this is a tale of teen angst we’ll be watching.
That’s about it for visual elements but there are some issues I have with the one-sheet in terms of brand consistency. This poster is dominated by the bright yellow and green background that shows Nadine is walking outside. That color really pops and is contrasted by the drab grey hoodie she’s wearing. But the trailer, as we’ll see below, is very washed out and muted in terms of color palate, making it seem as if Nadine is caught in a colorless prison that matches her emotional state.
The other issue is Nadine’s signature rainbow jacket, seen consistently in the trailer, is absent here. That seems like something that’s a pretty big character element, indicative of her having her own style despite the pressures of the popular crowd. Its absence from the poster, considering how frequently is shows up in the trailer, is kind of surprising.
As the red-band trailer opens we see Nadine as she bursts into a teacher’s office to declare she’s about to kill herself. He’s less than helpful, though, brushing her off in the most sarcastic manner possible. Seems Nadine has lots of issues, ranging from her looks to her general lack of popularity, none of which are being helped or even addressed by the adults in her life. She has one best friend but even that gets weird when it turns out she’s begun dating Nadine’s older brother, who’s the most popular guy in school and great at everything, and hanging out with the “in” crowd. She’s dragged to a party and it just gets worse. The whole thing culminates with Nadine sending an ill-advised text to a boy she has a crush on, furthering her embarrassment.
It’s pretty funny and works primarily because Steinfeld is obviously in charge of the tone and feel of the movie. If this movie gets a decent release this could be a star-making role for her. A lot of story beats are laid out here but I really like the way it presents a few extended scenes as a way to let us into the character of Nadine and the struggles she’s going through.
A green-band version was released a bit later.
Another trailer came via Buzzfeed. There are a few new scenes and a bit of a different tone that’s meant to make it seem a bit lighter and less angsty, but it’s not hugely different from the first trailer.
Online and Social
There’s a nice still of Steinfeld and Harrelson that’s recognizable by anyone who’s watched the trailer that opens the official website. Down at the bottom of the page is a prompt to “Watch the Trailer” along with links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Scroll down the page and the first section of content is “Videos” and lets you rewatch all three trailers, which you should very much do.
Next up is an interactive feature called “Explore Nadine’s Phone.” That opens up a new site that has a little graphic on half the page showing a smartphone screen. Scroll down over that screen and you’ll see text conversations between Nadine and her mom, pseudo-Instagram posts and more, ending with links to buy tickets or download an iMessage sticker pack or a GIF keyboard.
The “#FMLTextFail Challenge” loads a Tumblr site that encourages you to submit your best text fails and tag your friends, some of which are then displayed here, interspersed with official stills and videos from the movie. There’s also “About” and other sections here to give visitors a bit more information.
“About” is next and has a good synopsis of the movie’s story along with a cast and crew list. That’s followed by stand-alone links to download the iMessage sticker pack or GIF keyboard that were mentioned before. Finally there’s a gallery of images, including one or two behind the scenes shots.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV spots like this one continued to sell the movie as a coming-of-age movie about today’s teens, this time citing more current movies like Mean Girls and Juno, not the John Hughes filmography that’s been seen elsewhere in the push. It doesn’t get into the specifics of the story about Nadine’s problems with her mother or friend, staying pretty high level to show her as an overall depressed youth surrounded by people who don’t understand her, which is pretty universal.
Media and Publicity
The movie was quickly named as the closing film of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. While at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie closed out the festivities, both Craig and Brooks talked about developing the script, the subject matter of the story and more.
Steinfeld talked extensively here about what attracted her to the role, what she thought of coming-of-age stories, her chemistry with Harrelson and more. She also made appearances on the talk show circuit to promote the movie.
It’s hard not to love this campaign. Not only does Steinfeld look completely winning and charming in the role of a sullen, disaffected teenager but the whole thing looks like a funny, heartfelt exploration of teenage life. Even without the overt intonations of John Hughes’ name it’s easy to get a Hughes-like vibe from what’s going on here with the high school setting, the story of feeling like an outsider and the family drama dynamic that’s on display. Those alone should connect with anyone familiar with Hughes’ work, though this is obviously amping up the language and sexual material in keeping with the times.
The whole campaign is pretty great, presenting a funny and emotional story of being the odd person out in a society that expects smooth edges and perfection. It’s great to see Steinfeld take a starring role like this and she’s front and center in the marketing, owning everyone else in the trailers and standing alone on the one-sheet. The fully-featured website, including a number of mobile elements, rounds out a well put-together campaign that, when combined with the positive word of mouth generated from festival screenings, hopefully adds up to some amount of success.
Originally published at christhilk.com on November 15, 2016.