Dear Entertainment Brands: Enough With the Spoilers on Merchandise, Please
Spoiler alert! Today we're going to look into how promotional products and merchandise can accidentally (maybe) spoil details in movies, video games and more. Yes, most of the time these are tiny details of little to no consequence, but with the abundance of marketing for movies nowadays, there's bound to be something that slips through the cracks.
And if you're one of those people who changes the channel or covers your eyes and ears during a trailer so you don't see any details before you actually see the movie, this can be endlessly frustrating.
We all like "Star Wars," right? Right. So, naturally, we're all good and hyped about the final installment in the epic Skywalker saga, which comes out in December.
Here's where I get to a minor spoiler that I saw via promotional merchandise. It's not going to ruin the movie, but it might affect the way you respond to a scene. So, I'm going to talk about it because I'm now burdened with this information, but if you don't want to, I advise you to skip to where I give the all-clear in a few paragraphs.
OK, so a Reddit user posted a picture of a toy they found in the wild. It's of the adorable new-trilogy droid BB-8. Everybody loves that little guy. He's spherical! Adorable.
Anywho, this Funko Pop! toy of BB-8 shows some damage to the front of his body, indicating that something happens to him in the movie.
So, either this toy was created by people who know full well that BB-8, the main protagonist of the "Star Wars" trilogy, gets hurt during "Rise of Skywalker," or this is a red herring that's going to make us sit on the edge of our seats every time BB-8 is on screen, waiting for something to happen with no payoff.
Either way, it stinks.
OK IT'S SAFE NOW FOR YOU TO COME BACK, SPOILER AVOIDERS!
This is my official plea for marketing people to stop putting spoilers on toys and promotional merchandise. It's one thing for trailers to go too deep with details. You can change the channel. But it's another for people to be minding their own business at the store and come face-to-face with a detail from the movie they wanted to go into with blank slates.
"Jurassic World" did it, too, with its admittedly awesome promotion it did with Amazon, depicting a new dino being carted to the park. But that's not as egregious, because that whole franchise is based on dinosaurs not being contained to their intended cages.
There are tons of creative ways to promote new entertainment properties without resorting to spoilers. For example, to build hype before the "Spyro the Dragon" reboot for PS4, video game writers received anonymous packages containing a purple, scaly egg. It was a fun, cryptic promotion for the game, without giving anything away.
Something’s about to hatch.
— Spyro Universe 💎 (@SpyroUniverse) April 2, 2018
Or how bout "Stranger Things"? The first glimpse we got of the show's third season was fake promos from "Scoops Ahoy," the fictional ice cream parlor in the town's mall where Steve and new character Robin worked. Obviously, there are more details than that, but this is an anti-spoilers article.
This is how to do it, folks. When we saw this, our brains went through this exact cycle:
"Whoa. New Stranger Things is coming out soon I guess. What's this? I don't remember that from last season. Must play a role in the new season but I can't tell what yet. I'd better watch to see where this all comes into play."
It is possible to create viral marketing and build excitement for a yet-unreleased item without giving away too many details. It just takes a little creativity to do it. It should make you say, "Hey, what's all that about? Can't wait to see." It shouldn't make you think about when the movie will fulfill the prophecy-by-toy-or-poster.
If only they somehow spoiled how terrible "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was through some marketing effort, though. Would've saved me $10 and a lot of mental anguish.