Pixar is taking viral movie marketing to a new level with Toy Story 3 by creating authentic looking vintage toy commercials for one of the new characters in the film. This is just the latest example of Hollywood using viral video to blur the lines between fiction and reality.
YouTube user MrCrazycommercials has uploaded lots of vintage toy commercials, including an “ad,” purportedly from 1983, for the toy Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. While the other commercials are for real products, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a Pixar creation and a character that will appear in Toy Story 3.
Check out the ad:
From the lighting to the clothing worn by the children and adults in the ad, it looks like something straight out of the early 1980s. We’re huge nerds and we have some qualms with the lunch boxes, however — the handles aren’t quite right.
Here’s an additional ad that was discovered from another YouTube uploader, this time in Japanese:
How this will factor into Toy Story 3 isn’t clear, but it provides some background information on one of the new characters that Woody, Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys will face when they make their way to a new home — a daycare center — after Andy goes off to college (Yes, the fact that Andy will be entering college makes us feel super old too).
The Toy Story films have always combined real toys with toys created specifically for the film. Mr. Potato Head, Barbie and Speak-n-Spell are just some of the real branded toys that have had Toy Story counterparts.
Of course, the original Toy Story creations have become real toys themselves; the toy replica of Buzz Lightyear famously became one of the hottest toys of the 1995 Christmas Season, for instance. Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear will be getting a real-life counterpart as well.
Thus far, Disney and Pixar have heavily marketed the film across different demographics, but there has a been a strong viral push to grab the attention of people in their mid-to-late twenties. For that reason, creating an ’80s-esque toy commercial makes a lot of sense, because we’re a generation that is obsessed with recollecting our past and relishing what once was.
Melding Movie Worlds With Reality
One of the big tenets of viral marketing for films is to make the movie universe appear to exist in either today’s world or in some other parallel society. Famous viral campaigns for films like The Dark Knight, District 9 and Cloverfield have all taken the universe from the upcoming film and integrated it with what’s happening right now.
Perhaps the most impressive recent example of a prolonged and committed viral movie campaign is Disney’s Tron Legacy. Since last July, clues have been scattered around the web and sent to film bloggers with information that helps shape the backstory of the film.
The working TRON arcade game that took Flynn’s Arcade tokens at Comic Con 2009 was pretty cool, but the pièce de résistance was the mock press conference held at WonderCon earlier this month, complete with protesters and stars from the original Tron appearing in character.
The Toy Story 3 viral campaign isn’t as entrenched as that of Tron Legacy, but the use of YouTube, vintage advertisements and original characters is still a terrific way to build buzz for a film that’s sure to be a hit. Toy Story 3 comes to theaters on June 18, 2010.
What do you think of viral marketing campaigns for movies? What do you think of the Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear ads? Let us know!