Is this movie poster an epic design fail – or marketing genius?

Image credit: Universal Pictures
Image credit: Universal Pictures

There are a few particular elements you can reasonably expect to see on any given movie poster. Images of the cast? Check. Names of the cast? Check. An intriguing tagline that manages to reveal absolutely nothing about the film? Check. The title of the movie? Believe it or not, it seems this one is no longer a given.

New Yorkers have been left baffled by the latest poster for Viking action film The Northman, after it appeared across the city’s subway system sans title. It looks like one of the most basic design fails imaginable – but then again, like all the best print ads, it’s got us talking. So could it be a deliberate stunt?

Image credit: Isaac Butler on Twitter

The poster for the film, which stars the likes of Nicole Kidman and Ana Taylor-Joy and hits cinemas this month, has gone viral on social media, leading some to speculate that, like that recent Nike ad, it features a deliberate mistake.

It’s hard to know where to stand on this one. On one hand, The Northman doesn’t look like the kind of film that would feature a provocatively challenging poster. This isn’t some quirky genre-buster like, say Everything Everywhere All at Once (love that poster, by the way). From the looks of what’s left of the poster, it’s a fairly standard Viking sword-slasher. And then there’s the fact that, as Pedestrian(opens in new tab) reports, the posters have already been taken down. That sounds like a mistake, right?

But at the same time, how do you forget the title of the movie? Like, how? Genuinely how? It just seems too stupid to be true – and as a result of the apparent gaffe, there are now plenty of people who know the title of the film now, even if until this morning they had no idea it even existed. The cynical part of me is thinking this was all dreamt up in an air-conditioned boardroom at Universal Pictures.

Still, at least we’ve been able to enjoy the predictably entertaining Twitter response. Users have, naturally, been quick to add their own titles to film, and it’s pretty hilarious how they juxtapose with these grizzled Viking characters. My favorite has to be The Devil Wears Prada 2: Judgement Day.

(Image credit: @SamVanivray on Twitter
Image credit: murdocroy on Twitter

Ok Ok Im really really done. HAHAHAHA

Image credit: WorkyWood on Twitter

So, right now, the marketing team for The Northman is probably either receiving a big telling off, or big congratulations. We’ll probably never know.


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