While talented actors, directors and film crew are critical to create a high-quality film, it takes another kind of talent and mindset to generate publicity and sell tickets. In order to ensure success at the box office, movie publishers lean on the expertise of professionals like French publicist Caroline Maréchal.
Maréchal’s career spans an impressive two decades at publishers like Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. in France, where she has honed her out-of-the-box approach to public relations while working on franchises and films such as “Shrek,” “Fast and Furious,” “Joker,” “Dunkirk,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road,” just to name a few.
The role of a publicist, especially in the entertainment industry, is packed with responsibilities. “I feel that to be a good public relations specialist you need to be a strong leader and self-starter who has the ability to lead relevant film campaigns from the ground up,” explained Maréchal. “As a publicist, your responsibilities include creating campaign strategies, organizing press events, developing materials such as status reports and press releases, and managing budgets.”
All of these responsibilities, however, are just the bare minimum for making an impact with the entertainment press, who are constantly inundated with pitches from filmmakers and artists looking to get their share of the spotlight. To truly stand out in this hyper-competitive industry, a publicist needs to get creative.
Maréchal has conquered many challenges throughout her career in this high-stakes industry, but one of her standout accomplishments was creating “Christmas Day,” an opportunity for French media to rendezvous in Paris and get the scoop on all the upcoming releases from Warner Bros. While she was in charge of all cross-divisional publicity activities at Warner Bros., Maréchal dreamed up this idea as a way to generate publicity for multiple franchises and activities at once, while entertaining French journalists—and even their families—during the holiday season.
The inaugural “Christmas Day” press event was held at La Cour des Marais, a beautiful hotel in the center of Paris, and more than 100 journalists attended two press conferences, as well as many showrooms themed around Warner Bros. films and franchises such as “Harry Potter,” “The Batman,” “The Hobbit,” and the studio’s long-time partner, Lego®.
When asked about the challenges she faced in pulling this event together, Maréchal said, “I had to navigate many varied deadlines and processes of the different divisions at Warner Bros. such as games, television, and consumer products, as well as film and home entertainment. To do this, I organized many meetings with these different divisions and put in place a follow-up process to coordinate and satisfy all involved parties.”
Maréchal’s hard work paid off in the end, as the event was a huge success that generated great publicity for Warner Bros.’ franchises. Even more impressive however, is the fact that “Christmas Day” is still a hotly anticipated annual event that is well-attended by the French media.
“Caroline always had plenty of great ideas to promote the Warner Bros. portfolio, and when she pitched us her Christmas Day project, we knew it would be fantastic,” said Executive Marketing Director Celine Morel from the Home Entertainment division at Warner Bros. France. “Caroline demonstrated significant negotiating and budgeting skills, and she also knew how to best organize and mobilize all the teams each year.”
While creating a long-standing press tradition in Paris is a big accomplishment, Caroline Maréchal didn’t rest. When she was tasked with generating publicity for the film “Edge of Tomorrow,” Maréchal and her team pulled off one of the most ambitious film premieres in history.
To play into the “time looping” theme of the film, Warner Bros. decided to have three premiere screenings in one day: one in the morning in London, one at noon in Paris, and one in the evening in New York. The cast, including Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, as well as 10 worldwide journalists would be traveling together on the same plane for these events. Maréchal was given the monumental task of organizing, coordinating, and executing this far-reaching concept.
From securing flight tickets and booking venues to navigating traffic in some of the world’s biggest cities, Caroline Maréchal and her team achieved the impossible. “The key to our success was anticipating the many different scenarios and things that could go wrong, which helped us stay on schedule,” Maréchal remarked. “The event was a big success, and all three screenings happened in one day as expected, without any delay.”
“This was one of the first International tours at Warner Bros.; I was a bit nervous, but Caroline was working with me on this project and demonstrated strong leadership and team management skills,” said Guillaume Lecannelié, former event manager at Warner Bros. “Caroline has the natural ability to make everyone comfortable and confident while asking them to push themselves and give the very best.”
As films continue to innovate and evolve, so must the tactics used to promote them. Creativity is not just essential for the creation of a movie; it’s increasingly important for generating publicity. That’s why brilliant publicists, like Caroline Maréchal, have a bright future ahead of them in the entertainment industry.