It seems to be pretty much the gospel now that Slumdog could never have rewritten the rules as it has without Searchlight's help. Everyone marvels at their marketing campaigns, and how well they work. People say they've trademarked color, to the point if you use a bold singular shade in your campaign, folks feel you've copped a page from Ms. Utley.
Titles are always a difficult thing in the positioning of a film. Posters however make titles look easy. When our films are handled by one of the top distributors we often see over 100 different mock-ups. And it's rare that by the time a choice is made, I frequently feel we made a wrong decision, or rather never found the answer. One of the real challenges is finding a poster that not only serves the campaign in terms of positioning the film and enhancing desire to see it, but also serves the test of time and rests comfortably on the wall years later.
All the tests though are compounded when you have little or no funds like most indie filmmakers. I recently posted on TheNextGoodIdea about CrowdSpring where you offer a prize and hold a contest among designers to see who will make the best poster (or logo or whatever). It certainly is a good way to get a lot of interesting ideas. Searchlight, the undisputed master, takes up one notch with their campaign for 500 DAYS OF SUMMER. They are using the multiple images to increase pre-release buzz by holding a poll regarding four different posters, apparently pulling the audience into the process, and cementing allegiance to some degree in the process.
The contest for a final image campaign seems like something all indie filmmakers should put in their playbook. When would be the right time to run it? Seems to me that if your film has played one of the major film festivals and garnered some good attention, right before the next big festival would be the ideal time. Hey, isn't that exactly what Searchlight is doing? 500DOS played Sundance and will soon be screened at SxSW and now the SL poster poll is go. Which basically means that if you are going to have 4 images to select you need to start to get them in at least a month prior to first fest screening.