Of all the things that The Hunger Games series does well, what it really excels at is its world-building – a fact which has really been brought home in its recent Mockingjay Part 1 marketing tactics. The world of Panem is poised on the brink of an uprising, rebellion is inevitable and at the centre of it all is a seventeen-year-old girl who has unwittingly become the Mockingjay, the symbol of the revolution.
The film itself is one of the most anticipated of the year, and yet the first glimpse of the movie that the fans were given was a video of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) delivering a public address about the importance of playing by the rules. The ‘trailer’ revealed nothing of the film, yet worked perfectly to build up the world of The Hunger Games in the approach to the latest film release in a way that intrigued and perplexed fans the world over.
Just as the twittersphere questions were beginning to die down, Lionsgate released their second teaser. Again, this trailer featured a citizen address from President Snow and revealed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone) at his side, both present, placid and becoming an example of the show of ‘unity’ Snow is calling for; the two Hunger Games champions are completely compliant in the face of the Capitol’s control and become the face of their own propaganda campaign. And yet, for all the power the Capitol has, the address is interrupted by the rebels as Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) announces that the ‘Mockingjay lives’.
Before we get any filmed footage from the movie itself, the marketing of the film has built up a world under threat and an underground movement ready to destroy the very foundation of their admittedly unfair society. Lionsgate have used social media in other ways throughout their marketing campaign, including using Instagram to upload a teaser poster for the film before deleting it and blaming the unauthorised post on rebel hackers. With every new Instagram post, message from the Capitol and video footage they release, Lionsgate draws the viewers further into the world of Panem: we are Snow’s citizens being told to live together in unity, and we are Beetee’s rebels awaiting news of the rebellion and the Mockingjay. By the time an official teaser trailer featuring actual filmed footage of the movie was given to us last week, we were all well and truly invested in the story it told.
The trailer itself features fantastic shots of a society facing devastation and a nation of people looking to Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) for leadership. Any association of the Mockingjay symbol will be banned, we are told, as the peacekeepers are sent in to control the revolution with violence. Katniss herself has been broken by the Hunger Games, by the destruction of her home and by the loss of her District, Peeta included, and yet, in spite of it all, Katniss is called on to lead, and to fight in the war she unwittingly started.
“Are you fighting Katniss?” she is asked. “Are you here to fight with us?”
“I am,” she replies. “I will.”
And with those words Katniss becomes our leader, the Mockingjay.