The practice of releasing teasers for film trailers is relatively new, but a format like Instagram makes the appeal obvious: The fifteen-second, scroll-by-it-on-your-phone format lends itself to both viral marketing and quick dopamine hits, making it a natural place to view a brief reminder that a movie or TV show that you’re interested in is on its path to release. It may feel a bit like the snake eating its own tail, but when it’s just a fifteen second interlude, who minds too much?
And if the practice of unveiling brief teasers for full-blown trailers is interesting, more interesting about the latest film to pursue that path is the platform on which it debuted: namely, Beyoncé’s Instagram account, which played host to the teaser for Fifty Shades Of Grey over the weekend. The teaser itself is very slight, given that it’s a fifteen-second preview-of-a-preview, but it features a few flashes of the soft-porn aesthetic that made the book series a massive hit.
Still, the question of how the film landed a cross-promotional deal with Beyoncé lingers after the fifteen seconds are up: Fifty Shades Of Grey is hotly anticipated by a certain segment of the population that has not had many opportunities to spend money at the box office on sexually aggressive material directed toward them, but its release date–scheduled for next February, when studios typically bury uncertain films–suggests that no one involved is all that confident that Fifty Shades Of Grey will be a hit. So it’s surprising to see Beyoncé tie herself to a brand that may be on the decline–it’s hard to imagine that Fifty Shades Of Grey will be a bigger cultural phenomenon in 2015 than it was in 2012, after all.
On the other hand, Beyoncé–the 32-year-old married mother of a two-year-old–fits firmly within the Fifty Shades Of Grey demographic. Maybe she lent her Instagram presence (and, presumably, a song or two on the soundtrack) to the film because she’s a big fan?