'Happening' here: Foreign ads go local

Mexico posters tweaked to show monuments

Fox Mexico's unique marketing campaign behind "The Happening" has some here thinking the M. Night Shyamalan thriller contains scenes filmed in Mexico.

That's because Fox Mexico has altered the poster to give it a local flavor. The original poster depicts a line of abandoned cars on a two-lane highway leading to a U.S. city on the horizon. The Mexican one-sheets, in contrast, show a similar scene with backdrops of emblematic landmarks in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, the nation's three largest cities.

Fox Mexico director Juan Carlos Lazo said the strategy is generating buzz in the heat of the summer blockbuster season as "Happening" gears up to compete against such Hollywood tentpoles as "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and "The Incredible Hulk."

"The first phase of the campaign was to draw attention, and it is working," Lazo said.

But might some viewers be misled by the iconographic Mexican imagery?

"We have gotten questions if some scenes were filmed here, but it's clear that this is a foreign film when one sees the names of the director and Mark Wahlberg on the poster," Lazo said.

Meanwhile, the strategy is being tried out by Fox in Korea as well, albeit on a smaller scale. While they're not doing localized one-sheets, print ads running in papers have used backgrounds that are clearly local.

"Happening" hits Mexican theaters today on 500 screens and opens in Korea on 230 screens.
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