‘Gatsby’ Marketing Campaign Keeps Eye on the Prize

Warners goes to 'Great' lengths in outdoor marketing effort

Like the omniscient eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prized novella, the outdoor marketing campaign for “The Great Gatsby” seems to follow you wherever you go.

There are at least 20 striking images, eight of them plastered on billboards, promoting director Baz Luhrmann’s bigscreen adaptation, which is being released by Warner Bros. this weekend.

The brunt of this aggressively diversified campaign, which also will be targeted to bus sides and shelters, is focused on New York and Los Angeles, the latter where car culture allows for constant reminders of the film’s impending arrival in theaters.

“The thing that’s important, for people who are familiar with the book and with the (earlier 1974) film, is there are a lot of interesting landscapes and places that you visit in the film — the valley of ashes, the Plaza (hotel in New York), seeing the famous Duesenberg — that’s what we tried to capture in the outdoor campaign,” says Warner Bros.’ worldwide marketing president Sue Kroll.

The various images share the wealth among the main characters: from the star-crossed lovers Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, to Nick Carraway, who serves as the story’s one-man Greek chorus, to blue-bloods Tom Buchanan and Jordan Baker; and Tom Buchanan’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson.

“I think it’s really trying to show all the angles of the story,” says Heather Johnson, president of Works Advertising, responsible for executing two of the billboards (Concept Arts did the others) and the one-sheet, which also features those bespectacled Eckleburg eyes. “It is unusual, and I think it’s making a huge impression across town.”

What ties the images together, explains Johnson, is the deco-flavored filigree inspired by Luhrmann and production and costume designer Catherine Martin that frames them all. The brassy, intricate pattern, initially referred to as “the gate” in teasers that came out last Christmas, were actually derived from the ceiling featured in the cavernous main room of Gatsby’s house in the movie, all of it done in CGI.

The ornate design, which also decorates the cover of the Scribner book tied to the film, speaks to the language of this lavish production.

“It made (the campaign) more cohesive,” says Johnson. “You drive around town; you’re seeing all these different images, but it’s still got that connection that brings it back to ‘The Great Gatsby.’”

Prominent displays include the Grove in Los Angeles and New York’s Times Square subway station, the latter of which is blanketed with images from the movie.

“You want to be able to create an interesting kind of space for people,” points out Kroll. “This is definitely one of the more aggressive outdoor campaigns that we’ve designed.”

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