Super Bowl Sunday is surely now as famous for its commercial debuts as it is for the actual sporting event on which it’s centred. With a huge audience guaranteed, the biggest global corporations and the most successful Hollywood studios vie for coveted advertising time during the broadcast’s commercial breaks – generating vast profits in television, and often seismic responses from audiences across social media. For many film distributors, the Super Bowl is key to heightening anticipation for upcoming film releases and, with that in mind, the commercial that counts as a new TV spot for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an exercise in perfection.
Cast your mind back to 1993, and the release of Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Like so many Spielberg projects before it, the dinosaur movie was deemed to be highly ‘toyetic’ – meaning that it was the ideal candidate for the blending of product placement and cinematic storytelling. As a result, there were dinosaur toys, branded lunch boxes and, of course, there were Jeeps. This approach has continued with each franchise instalment, for a quarter of a century.
Now, we have a brand new Jurassic movie on the way, directed by J.A. Bayona, and one of the most highly anticipated aspects of it is the franchise return of Jeff Goldblum as the brilliant Dr. Ian Malcolm. Goldblum was one of the three main stars of the original Jurassic Park film – alongside Sam Neill and Laura Dern – but has not been a part of the series since 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
So, how do you honour both the product placement legacy and the contribution of a main franchise character, as part of the marketing for a new Jurassic film? You put Dr. Ian Malcolm in a Jeep ad, of course. Opening with one of the many iconic clips from 1993’s Jurassic Park, we see water vibrating in a dinosaur footprint and an injured Ian Malcolm in the back of a Jeep – encouraging his co-survivors to catch up since they’re being pursued by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Seamlessly, the clip then cuts to a modern-day Jeff Goldblum – with grey hair and spectacles – driving a brand new Jeep, while trying to out-run said T-Rex.
But, this time, instead of out-running her, the Jeep’s features are used tactically to avoid the giant creature’s huge limbs and drop behind her – so now it’s the Jeep that’s giving chase to the dinosaur. The twist arrives as we find that Goldblum is actually just sitting in a showroom – either imagining the possibilities or having a Jurassic flashback. Extra classiness is built right in, with the fact that the film’s name is not even mentioned in the big print – the assumption being that we all know what we’re looking at, and why, because this is legendary stuff.
Most importantly, this marketing move – while it’s simply a commercial for Jeep – sends the very clear message that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom can be expected to exist entirely within the aesthetic and tone established by that groundbreaking original film, all those years ago, while bringing new tactics to the party. We’ll see if that claim proves true, when it finally lands in theatres on June 6th.