Getting rid of the rat seemed so easy. At least, it did to Adam Sacks, and hundreds of backers who supported his Kickstarter to digitally remove the ham-fisted rat metaphor from the end of The Departed. An Icarus of the modern age, his waxen wings melted by Warner Bros’ (to be fair, quite reasonable) copyright dispute.
A ratless version of The Departed wasn’t going to be the year’s biggest launch. It was one man buying 50 copies of The Departed, ‘fixing’ the ending, and sending the improved version to faithful followers. Sacks dared to dream. You can’t say that about all launches, but the below demonstrate February’s more interesting - and ratless - moments.
Lego owns the world. It’s managed to get brands across the board to play nice in both its excellent films, it’s a hobby for all ages and, now, it’s building blocks in the fashion lot. Launching its first limited-edition clothing line for adults wasn’t to be understated, so the Danish behemoth went about things a little differently. It, er, built (sorry) a unique launch to support the line.
Lego Wear and Snapchat unveiled a pop-up shop in London with no clothes in it, not a stitch to wear. Aside from a DJ, arcade machine and various other bits and bobs that’ll make you mumble, ‘I was young once’, it’s just plinths. Plinths with a Snapcode, through which plucky users scan on their phones to conjure an augmented reality Lego model. From here, they browse Lego-branded streetwear on virtual mannequins.
Once you get over how absurd it sounds, it’s kind of genius, isn’t it? Its Snap-savvy nature appeals to the demographic who’d be buying streetwear, opening Lego up to an entirely new market, also tantalising younger customers as they move into teendom. In terms of establishing itself in the fashion industry and launching with something to prove, this is absolutely a victory.
Mobile World Congress: when everyone comes together to speculate, furtively rummage through their wallets and sigh. This year, Chinese superpower Huawei outdid itself, unveiling its foldable Mate X phone for an eye-watering RRP of $2,600 - roughly £2,000. The phone boasts the convenience of essentially being a mobile and a tablet in one go, and allegedly packs 5G technology to hold it in good stead for years to come - a bold thing to highlight, given the United States’ campaigns to ban Huawei from such networks due to security concerns. And Huawei clearly thought it was enough, given rival brands like Android and Sony launched with entire experiential, pop-up suites.
Quartz got a chance to demo the Mate X, under strict instruction not to bend it themselves. Bit odd given its foldy nature being a USP, but hey, who are we to judge? Whether or not foldable mobiles will take off remains to be seen, but Huawei’s put itself at the forefront and cemented its position with the one-two 5G capability.
Gamers are a good bunch, and not just because the e-sports industry was valued at over $900m last year. JustGiving recently announced its Gaming for Social Good initiative, which encourages the gaming community to create fundraisers and monetise their button-bashing efforts for charity.
Off the back of YouTuber Hbomberguy playing Donkey Kong to the point of exhaustion for gender dysphoria charity, Mermaids - over £260,000 in total, thank you very much Graham Linehan - this could have been the moment for an influencer-led initial launch. Partnering with a prominent livestreamer would’ve been the perfect platform for Gaming for Social Good - while it’ll no doubt be successful, this feels like there was much more potential than a simple announcement.
Bird Box. Roma. The one where you choose your cereal and kill your Dad. Netflix is pumping out an unholy amount of quality content of late, and as such, it’s hard to keep up. Thankfully, the February pre-launch of crime film The Highwaymen sorted that out - it was announced that, prior to its 29th March online release, the film would screen at SXSW alongside a fully immersive, 1930s-style speakeasy experience. In a basement, no less.
SXSW visitors got the chance to get RFID banded, go gambling, purchase exclusive items, interact with characters from the film, and really bring it to life in their eyes. Because that's what Netflix has struggled with in recent years - cinema purists shun the platform and deny its legitimacy, so how does it prove its worth? It proves that it’s real. It forces Black Mirror viewers to choose which cereal they’d like to eat, and it gives stuff like The Highwaymen a real-life grounding when plonked into SXSW.
If they could bring it to my living room next time, that would be decent.
George Roberts is client services director at launch marketing agency Five by Five