Limitless: The Clear Pill

Creative print advertising on the tube shocker…

I spotted the above ad on the tube just over a week ago…
You may have seen one like it yourself.

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I knew exactly what it was for, instantly. But that’s me; I read film blogs, subscribe to Total Film magazine, I write about the films I’ve seen – basically, I’m into my film.

The other 2.6m people using the London Underground every day however might not all be self-confessed movie geeks and may not have jumped to the same immediate conclusion, and that’s no bad thing. Allow me to explain:

If you are one of those people then let’s quickly get this out of the way; that there above – believe it or not – is a rather awesome advert for the new Bradley Cooper film, LIMITLESS. The film is about what happens to a guy when he’s given the chance to become more than who he is. To become the best he could ever be. All achieved simply by using the full potential of his brain. A potential that’s unlocked thanks to the swallowing of a daily pill.

A clear pill.

It looks good right?

I thought so too when I first saw the trailer. However, what they’re doing with their marketing campaign is fantastic. This film could’ve easily just slipped out without anyone noticing and before you know it, it would’ve come and gone by Easter. But with this whole ‘NZT‘ drive, they [the studio, the agency behind the campaign, everyone involved etc] are onto a winner.

Reasons why this works:

  • Bradley Cooper’s most recent ‘hit’ was The A-Team, however he’s probably known to most for his leading turn in the epic post-bachelor party comedy, The Hangover. Those films aside, he’s only ever really played supporting roles which means for a very short time – to the public at least – he has one of those faces.
    You know he’s famous but you can’t quite place him. Just the sort of celebrity face you’d see adorned on a piece of two-bit above the line advertising. A point proven just yesterday when someone in my office held up the equivalent advertisement in her copy of Metro and asked “Hey, wasn’t he in The Hangover? He can’t be doing too well [if he’s doing ads like this].”
  • The advert itself is brilliantly written. It is just like one of those shoddy medical ads that you would see on the tube. The call to action, while completely nullified as it asks you to SEND AN SMS WHILE YOU ARE UNDER THE GROUND is AWESOME as it ASKS YOU TO TAKE A PHOTO OF THE AD TO REMEMBER and, that itself is actually quite compelling because the copy and the thought behind it keep you thinking long after you are outside and above ground – your interest is piqued enough to genuinely follow through on it.
  • It’s a word of mouth, dare I say it – ‘viral’ marketing campaign, that genuinely inspires conversation. How? By offering up a point of entry to a story that you don’t know exists yet. This is not your average movie poster, oh no. In fact the only clue that this might not actually be what you think it is is the URL ‘showfilmfirst‘ which is a site set up to offer early screening tickets to [from the looks of things] films that don’t have the traditionally large studio backing. However, what you take away is THE CLEAR PILL.

    Google that and what you get?

Google Clear Pill

That URL (or that call to action for that matter) isn’t anywhere on the ad, but still people are sharing it –

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In fact, if I was writing the wrap up document for this campaign say in about a month or so from now (after the film has hit and the numbers have come in), I’d include that very screen grab.

Bam! Sale! Job done! Cheque please!

Go spend some time poking around the clear pill website, my favourite part so far is the epic ‘we don’t give a stuff about you’ small print.
I’m off to buy my ticket for Limitless. Like I said, it looks pretty good.

Minor addendum; the plot reminds me of the short story Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. That’s worth a look too.


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12 thoughts on “Limitless: The Clear Pill”

  1. I haven’t heard of the movie, but I love Bradley Cooper, so now I want to see the movie, so I guess the “viral” campaign is working.

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  2. Been reading those on the Tube and meaning to look into them. It’s definitely an eye grabber and a curiosity tweaker. Reminds me of the Darma Initiative campaign they used to launch LOST awhile ago…

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  3. The interesting thing here is when doing a quick twitter search you don’t see 1000’s of tweets (it is still quite a high barrier to entry to get people involved) but the feedback of those involved seems to be almost 100% positive! – A rare thing indeed.

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  4. LOVE this campaign. And not just because it is starring buff Brad Cooper with the twinkly eyes and winning smile (significant plus though that is).

    Not being as much of a film nut as Whatters, I ended up reading the poster for a good 3 minutes (LONG for an ad) – the first 90s of which was spent a) figuring out what had made Cooper stoop so low as to sign up as the face of a low budget, tube-advertised vitamin pill, then b) desperately searching for the small-print punch-line that proved it wasn’t so…

    Safe to say it piqued my interest and was without a doubt the longest engagement I’ve ever had with any form of tube advertising. Or possibly any print ad come to that. So bravo.

    When I got into the office my fears were completely cast aside when my Times+ newsletter dropped into my inbox. Complementary screening tickets to see Limitless in 2 weeks’ time.

    Bonza.

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  5. I was only thinking about this the other day. Everytime I see it on the tube I can’t help but read it and try and figure out what it is promoting.

    Who ever came up with this campaign idea is genius

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  6. …and also the classic Nicholas Ray/James Mason flick BIGGER THAN LIFE.

    “An original idea? The library must be full of them!”

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  7. The whole thing slightly missed its target by the website not going live when the ad first appeared so you ended up just getting the home page of the hosting company. It looked like a rather underhand way of selling domains.
    (and when I Googled “Clear Pill” I just found lots of puzzled people trying to work out what the ad was for)

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