I love being the target demographic, except when I don’t

Age check – does this look familiar?

american teen poster

At first, I thought this was a sign of how ubiquitous 80’s movies are on TNT and TBS – that even the poster could be used to market to these kids today who seem to love the 80’s beyond all reason…

(and I mean ALL reason. The 80’s were so not awesome – I was there)

… but then I thought about it – American Teen is a documentary that got all kinds of love at Sundance. At the same time, though, the question kept coming up about how it could be marketed — a really important question in this world where “really, really good” isn’t always enough for a studio to think they have something worth marketing.

So it’s possible that I am the target of this pitch – me, and the other people who saw this movie in the theater (in my case it was at Washington Square cinemas on a really awkward date I didn’t realize was a date until halfway through). Or it’s possible that the target is the topic – teens today – who are as familiar with the John Hughes filmography as I am without all the “ew I was there” baggage.

In any event, whether I am the target or not, I think the pitch works. I already wanted to see this movie at lot, and while this poster doesn’t make me want to see it more it also doesn’t make me want to see it any less. I think it taps into something about what the John Hughes movies meant in the 80’s, and it also suggests real backing for this film which means that more people will have the chance to see it – a good thing.

But I’m also pointing it out for another reason – that the poster captures one of the big reasons I have been wanting to see this film — since the first reviews from Sundance an overarching theme has been that this is a movie about teens that isn’t all about how Kids Today are OMG So Different. And I think that’s a useful corrective to all of the technology-focused rhetoric out there about netgens, digital natives or millennials. For all of us, but especially for those of us who spend so much time thinking, learning and communicating with these kids today.

It’s weird to see so much out there about a marketing plan for a documentary, but maybe that just suggests that 80’s survivors are also a big demographic within the blogger population. So far, the verdict seems to be thumbs up on the campaign from people who have (maybe? I don’t actually know about all of them) seen the movie at All these Wonderful Things, Cinematical and Film School Rejects (who offers a longer post about why this marketing approach might work).

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