Service, with a ‘Smile’: Inside Paramount’s home run of a guerilla marketing campaign

Paramount Pictures

If you’re a baseball fan, you may have noticed an odd pattern recently: patrons seated behind home plate, staring into the camera with a creepy smile on their face for the entire game. 

In some cases, the people wore a brightly colored shirt reading “Smile.”

Even if you’re not a sports fan, the internet certainly noticed, and footage of the folks went viral

Turns out it was part of a pretty savvy marketing campaign for Paramount Pictures’ new horror film Smile. And hey, if you can get Major League Baseball to get the word out about your movie — for free — during must-see games like the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox, that’s some pretty savvy promo indeed. 

What’s more, it seems to have worked: The modestly budgeted movie made more than $2 million during Thursday night previews, according to Deadline, which predicted it could make as much as $20 million this weekend.

The movie stars Sosie Bacon — daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick — and The Boys Jesse T. Usher

The studio teases that Bacon’s character witnesses “a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient” and “starts experiencing frightening occurrences that she can’t explain.”

“As an overwhelming terror begins taking over her life [she] must confront her troubling past in order to survive and escape her horrifying new reality.”

The movie’s trailer is even creepier than those planted baseball fans.

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