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Einstein Couple
einstein couple

Not for kids or nuns: Here's how to market a controversial message

The Einstein Couple designed the posters for the controversial new Lars Von Trier film – and we could all learn a thing or two from them.

KEEP IT SIMPLE, tell a good story – and don’t take yourself too seriously.

That’s the advice that The Einstein Couple (aka Danish married couple Philip Einstein Lipski and Maria Einstein Biilmann) have for marketing films, but their words could apply to anyone who’s looking to get their message out there.

They were in Dublin this week for the Digital Biscuit event, where they spilled the beans on how they crafted the marketing campaign for Lars Von Trier’s latest film, Nymphomaniac.

They were working with a controversial Danish director who doesn’t do press (and didn’t talk to them after their first meeting) to market a four-hour movie about a sex addict. So it’s fair to say they had some unusual circumstances to deal with.

But no matter what you’re dealing with, they gave this advice at their Digital Biscuit talk on how to get your message across:

  • The audience doesn’t care

They don’t care how hard you worked on the project – they only care about themselves. You have to give them a story about themselves, and one they can relate to.

“We told a story about Nymphomanic that was about the audience,” the couple said.

  • Don’t use buzzwords

Just don’t.

  • Tell a good story

It’s not about the most creative strategy, it’s being able to tell a good story, or the real story. What’s the story? How can you sum up the film in one sentence?

When people say “It’s so much more than that [one sentence]“, the Einstein Couple respond: “Nobody cares”.

“Communication really is that simple,” they contend. Make it simple and easy to understand.

  • Never market it yourself

The golden rule – don’t market your own film. Find someone else to do it, who isn’t so personally connected.

  • Don’t take yourself too seriously

“Life is not serious,” Lipski said. “Don’t fill it up with more seriousness.”

Even if the film is a very dark and serious one, audience members “always need to have a little bit to puncture the seriousness”, said Biilmann.

  • Be surprising

Entertain people – even if your project is dark, you can still bring some entertainment into the marketing of it.

How they used all of this to market Nymphomaniac

First, the Einstein Couple met with Von Trier, who has a somewhat formidable reputation. Due to an incident at Cannes Film Festival in 2011, after which he was banned from attending, he no longer does interviews, and didn’t want his words to form part of the campaign.

The couple were dealing with “a Nazi scandal and a dirty title for a four-hour movie”, as they put it. Plus, Von Trier had looked over the marketing campaigns for all of his previous films.

They wanted “to make Nymphomaniac relevant for a wider audience” than just hardcore Von Trier fans.

That meant they had to make it accessible “to everyone – except nuns, monks and children”.

Working off the script alone, they came up with ideas for how to market Nymphomaniac.

They decided:

If you’ve ever had a little sex, this movie might be for you.

The tension between porn, or ‘low culture’, and Von Trier, or ‘high culture’, was what they called their ‘battlefield’.

They took their initial cues from album covers for Kylie and Madonna, and perfume ads, which showed off the ‘sex sells’ aesthetic.

But “aesthetics alone are boring”, they determined.

So they took further inspiration from Davidoff’s D spot’ cigar ads, and merged:

  • Humour
  • Aesthetics
  • Authenticity

That was the key their successful campaign, from their initial poster:

imagePic: Facebook

To this character-driven poster campaign:

imagePic: Facebook

“Sexuality is ugly, funny, adorable,” explained the couple. For them, these posters showed all the different sides to sexuality.

“Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it,” they said of their posters. “Once you’re sucked into the curiosity”, you want to investigate everything else.

The campaign was so eye-catching that it even inspired take-offs, which was when they knew they’d hit on the right approach:

imagePic: Facebook

If they had to sum it all up in one line, the Einstein Couple’s motto would be this: “There are no good strategies – only good stories”.

What do you think of their work?

Read: New Irish movie filmed in Sligo wins major US distribution deal>

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