Cake; The Guide to Marketing a Film Perfectly

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From the official Instagram account @cakethefilmofficial

If you read Nusair Teli’s recent rundown of Pakistani films to lookout for, then you know that we’ve been anticipating Cake. It is a movie so against the grain that it deserves some love (also past Amina Sheikh film reference, for posterity).

So when the teaser for said movie was unleashed last week, of course we were smitten. And yes, we wanted to write about it. But I’ve done the whole ‘trailer breakdown’ dance, and I didn’t fancy another go. No I’m not saying I’ll never do it again; I reserve the right to be as contrary as I choose (Maggie Smith reference, thank you very much). So instead, I’ll be looking at the marketing efforts of team Cake.

In the past I have expressed my issues with the marketing aspects of local films. I have also praised ventures that got something right. But not before this have I come across a film that did everything perfectly. Team Cake put forth their unconventional film in cutlery befitting the piece de resistance. They have piqued everyone’s interest; and the marketing strategy that accomplished it deserves a film of its own.

 

Opting to be The Odd One Out

Regular readers will be as familiar with my constant complaints about done to death screenplays as they are with Karachi’s traffic madness. I have written about it again, and again and then again. This time, I am pleased to announce that I have nothing to complain about. In fact, this little beauty gave me a reason to rejoice.

That being said, a unique screenplay does not an exceptional film make. Too many good scripts have been given the clichéd treatment and turned into clichés themselves. Market a thoughtful film as a mindless, bawdy action-adventure-comedy and guess what people remember it as? But even in this regard, Cake stands apart from the crowd.

Before dropping the teaser, the team treated us to some unique art that looked unlike any film poster we’d seen before.

The teaser itself is also nothing like what local cine-watchers are used to, and this makes it exactly what they’ve been waiting for. Rather than loud colours and deafening songs, the teaser focuses on muted colours and compelling dialogue. It tells the story without saying anything.

 

The Important Question

What is the point of a teaser? I mean a film’s trailer is supposed to give you a rundown of what to expect, and present the premise without giving the best kept secrets away. In around two minutes it is supposed to get you excited to watch the film. But within a few seconds, what can a teaser possibly accomplish? Personally, I often find them to be an annoying and transparent attempt to keep the internet generation interested.

But in this case, I get the purpose behind the teaser.

At just fifty-two seconds, it ambushes you with scenic shots, offers some set up and then bombards you with the central conflict. By the end, you are left with the single burning question; what just happened?

The trailer will probably drop breadcrumbs and the film will be the grand reveal. It is building up to a finale, and I like that.

  

Embracing The Tale as Old as Time

Okay, so let’s ask ourselves what the purpose of cinema itself is. Some will say that it exists to entertain. Others may argue that it offers insight. I will argue that at its core, cinema exists to tell our stories. The best, most remembered films reflect the stories of the people that produce them.

What I will also wager is that it doesn’t always do so in the most obvious way. For example, both Guardians of the Galaxy films, while dealing with extra-terrestrial superheroes reminded me of my own family. Why? Because while I have never had a full-scale machine-gun battle with a sibling; I have had arguments and tear-stricken fights.

So far, the marketing for Cake demonstrates a similar knack. The set up is simple; a family with secrets. I know what that looks like.

From Cake’s official trailer

Heck, I even have one of those.

From Cake’s official trailer

And then the pipe bomb; which is not revealed and may not be what many of us have experienced. But it isn’t the ‘what’ that the teaser wants you to identify with, but the thing that comes after the ‘what’. Again, this may not be the secret that caused you to fight with a sibling, or parent or both; but that argument, rage and those tears, they all look familiar.

 

A Marketing Pitch that Keeps Holding On

This is the best part of this whole sweet and sour ordeal. Far too many production teams have dropped a trailer and expected it to keep audiences interested until the film. And here again, this little cookie stands apart.

I have mentioned the pre-teaser art, and the social media team continues to keep me invested. They have started a little Instagram series titled ’45 Pieces of Cake’ which includes 45 quotes and still images from the teaser. Now, the dialogues in the teaser are bursting with innuendo and tension. This then is much more than a shot-by-shot run down of something we’ve already seen.

Case in point, some of my favourites.

 

 

So there you have it. Apart from being a genuinely compelling feature, Cake is basically a blueprint for marketing a film. It takes the rush and bustle of an online audience into account. But it also gives us something fresh and unique.

And like a golden-brown sponge wrapped in a ganache and adorned with icing, it can’t be improved upon.

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