The renaissance of Virtual Reality is well and truly underway outside of the tech world. The release of Steven Spielberg’s latest film Ready Player One marks VR’s welcome return to the zeitgeist. Ready Player One re-imagines a world where the only limits of reality are your own imagination. Based on a dystopian planet where people can ‘avatar’ themselves into a better world through the use of virtual reality, Cline’s Ready Player One marries old-school sci-fi with a nod to social and anthropological predictions of 2045, creating a 1980s nostalgia for titles like Blade Runner. Yet whilst fans of the novel are eagerly anticipating the launch of the film, Warner Brothers’ approach to advertising has proven confusing for the many.
Led by a print campaign in the form of posters emulating old sci-fi film titles spanning from Back To The Future, Lost Boys and The Matrix, the ads recreate famous film poses, photoshopping protagonist Wade’s face into the mix. With the posters being left for fans to discover, Warner Bros’ marketing campaign has turned heads in its success in starting conversation via the simple print ad.
Yet whilst the Internet has been busy discussing the salutation to nostalgia of the 1980s, the main topic of conversation is centred around nobody really knowing what these posters are supposed to mean or how they are to be taken.
A quick scroll through Twitter has revealed that trolls and amateur graphic designers quickly got to work with creating their own versions, comically mocking the creative concept and raising the fundamental question of why a better artist wasn’t used to photoshop the ads? King of the mock ups so far has to be an ode to Disney Pixar’s Cars with individual pieces of Wade’s face dissected and stuck to the bonnet of a red ferrari-like animated car, headlined by some flashy blue and purple Word Art text reading ‘READY PLAYER ONE.’
More concerning though, is that some creators’ additions to the mix prove difficult in distinguishing between Warner Bros’ own posters and the ones created by its Twitter fanbase.
But with an abundance of criticism flooding social media, perhaps the real focus here should be the juxtaposition of a film focusing on the future advancements of VR utilising a simple print guerrilla campaign. Perhaps taking a step back and celebrating the simplicity of print in championing the 1980s should be the main take away.