What we do in the Shadows: viral marketing at its finest

With seven days to go until the Wellington premiere of excellent vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows (signalling its general release on June 19), I’ve compiled a list of seven ways you correctly market a comedy about vampires. Or any movie, perhaps.

I saw What We Do In The Shadows at a media screening about three weeks ago, and it’s one of my favourite films of the year so far. It’s hilarious, beautiful to look at, and its approach to stunts and special effects are a delight to behold.

The leads are all fantastic, but its supporting cast also really shines. You’ll be talking about Stu, Petyr, the werewolves and that police officer as you come out of the cinema, as much as you’re talking about Taika and Jemaine.

The film then, on its own merits, is fantastic. But what’s made the ride to its eventual release date even better is the fun marketing campaign around it.

Like the film, it all feels very low-fi and charming. And for that reason, it deserves a bloody list.


1. Turn up at fan events

The genius of Armageddon wasn’t having filmmakers Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement show up to do a Q&A, but to have two vampires from the film – Petyr and Viago – hunkering down at the back of the audience while things kicked off. Of course they held a black umbrella protecting them from the daylight (hey, you have to get loose with the vampire rules at some point).

2. Run art competitions

Fans were called to submit poster design on the film’s Facebook page. Instantly, lots of amazing fan-art, that is shared by fans of the movie, fans of the artist, and fans of the art. There were so many amazing results.

Electra Sinclair:

Douggy Pledger:

Someone from the UK even created this amazing fake toy:

From what I can tell, the winner gets their design printed and used in various cinemas, and gets to come to the premiere. This is a win for both the winners and the movie-makers (who now have a nice poster to use).

3. Change the sign for New Zealand’s capital city

Probably the most dramatic way to market your film is to change the sign of your city. For many films, this could be a challenge, but in the case of a mockumentary about Vampires, you just make “Wellington” change to “Vellington”.

Of course, once it’s dark and time for New Zealand’s 10:30pm news shows, you turn up in character and do a press conference.


4. Make a Trade Me account

People usually use Trade Me (eBay if you’re from anywhere but New Zealand) to flog off old lamps or Xbox games, but in this case it’s being used to market a movie. An account called delicious_necks is apparently the account of the Vampire flat, and they are selling various items from the house.

All the auctions are done in character, written by various vampires from the film. This one is selling a painting of Vladislav (Jemaine Clement’s character).

“This emotive piece is really quite something. Vladislav had been a little bit naughty and was being thrown out of yet another European village back in the day. He really did get up to a lot of mischief,” the auction reads.

The filmmakers even go so far as to take part in a Q&A with Trade Me users:

Q. Vladislav, Can you remember what the villagers in the background were doing? Were they expressing fear and loss through interpretive dance?

A. Correct.

Q. Why does your horse look like it is made from twigs?

A. Vhat is wrong vith your eyes?

Q. Ooh, I just realized that this is for that new movie that is coming out. It looks fantastic. I cant wait to go see it.

A. Fangk you. Ve are very excited about it too. The PR person keeps telling us to use this but ve don’t really know what it means #NZrelease19June But it is in cinemas from Thursday next veek!

They only have three auctions up at the moment (they did many more that have expired), but all the art is quite good.


“Greetings Trade Me Community, It’s Viago here once again. My flatmates and I have been going through our prize possessions to see if there is anything else we can bear to part with. Deacon hasn’t been paying the rent and as we’re fundraising for our upcoming documentary release, we thought why not sell this rather stern canvas image of him anyway?”

5. Do interviews with anyone who asks

I like that during this campaign the little guy didn’t get ignored.

Cori Gonzalez-Macuer talked to the University of Auckland’s free rag, Craccum – the only downer was that they got his name wrong, but I suppose that’s the charm of the university press.

6. Try online dating

New Zealand dating site FindSomeone (New Zealand’s OK Cupid) found itself with some Vampire profiles.


7. Know how to be funny on Facebook

At times it’s as simple as being genuinely funny online, as opposed to typing “come and see our film” over and over and over again.

The film’s entire Facebook page is comedy, and an amazing compliment to the film. It’s as good as the special features you get on a Blu-ray, and all part of the experience. From interactions with fans, to updates about friends around the world.


This story was originally published on 3 News


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