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Invisible Advertising

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"This game's launch date was announced a week before launch. The game was unavailable in most stores in the U.S. until a week after launch, and Konami issued a press release announcing the game's availability three days after the game came out. Producer Tak Fuji, while in the States, couldn't even find a copy of his own game in the store, and called it a 'big shame' on him as a producer. THAT'S HOW MUCH KONAMI CARES!"

Movies and TV shows are expensive. To be viable investments, they need to turn a pretty sizable profit. To make that money, they need to make people aware of TV and movies. This is where advertising comes in: billboards, television and radio commercials, interviews on talk shows, online ads and so on. Without this promotion, many people simply don't know a movie exists. This is how tickets get sold, and why people tune in at prime time.

Sometimes, however, the studio or network just doesn't think it's worth the bother. Figuring that the money is going down the drain anyway, they simply slip the work into theaters, into its timeslot, hoping that it will just quietly go away, and they will have fulfilled their legal obligations. So the movie/show/book/game does get released, and serious fans who know about it can find it and see it/buy it. But the studio doesn't make it easy. These are cinemae non gratae.

This often happens when Executive Meddling slams headfirst into a creator who really, really wants to create the work he wants without interference, but is too green to have Protection from Editors. This leads to a flawed end product with a tacked-on happy ending (to please audiences) or other significant changes that mess up the creator's vision.

A variant of this trope developed with the COVID-19 Pandemic, which waylaid the releases of numerous major 2020-2022 films and even led to many shifting distribution strategies entirely. Several films that had been heavily advertised in the months leading up to theater closures, such as Mulan, No Time to Die and A Quiet Place Part II, wound up having wasted massive amounts of ad money. As a result, many films in this era held back on major promotional campaigns until two months or less before their final release date, as a precaution against overspending at a time when a film's release strategy could change in the blink of an eye and with box office numbers having not yet reached pre-2020 levels on average.

On TV, this is one part of being Screwed by the Network. These are frequently Not Screened for Critics. Fans who actually liked them will be the ones who Keep Circulating the Tapes. Compare to Never Trust a Trailer, when a work is intentionally mismarketed in a misleading way, as well as No Budget when the work itself is made on a shoestring budget, and Surprise Release, when the very existence of the work itself isn’t revealed until its release day.


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  • Lionsgate is very infamous for this, as they constantly give their live-action films' (both theatrical and non-theatrical) trailers released either one month, two months or three months before their releases. Notable victims of this trope included Saw X, Fall and the sequels of both Alpha and Omega and Norm of the North.

    Anime & Manga 
  • This is basically Cartoon Network Latin America's stance on anime during the late 2010s. Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball Z Kai had NO ads for them AT ALL on the channel itself, with all publicity for the show being done via YouTube (show in singular since that channel only advertised Super while Kai was outright ignored). The Captain Tsubasa 2018 series only was advertised on ads that were for the channel as a whole; meanwhile Beyblade Burst was even more ignored than Kai, not even having re-runs and airing without ads. Needless to say, Pokémon: The Series was treated the same way it was on the States, except Disney XD never took over it and thus Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon aired without ads. Bakugan: Battle Planet, interestingly enough, is the only anime airing on the channel that has both ads AND re-runs, even if few. And in case you are wondering, those are ALL anime series that aired on the channel since Digimon Fusion ended its runs, and that one ALSO didn't have ads.
  • In the US, Dragon Quest: Legend of the Hero Abel was shown as Dragon Warrior, broadcast on Sunday mornings with no advertising.
  • Toonami:
    • Before the revival, [adult swim] was largely ignoring most of the Saturday block of anime. They'd advertise Bleach (their biggest show according to ratings) for a couple weeks when a new season is coming up, usually while it's on reruns, and they'd usually advertise a new show to the lineup for a few weeks before it debuts, then go on to advertise anything that wasn't anime. Code Geass and Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit were greatly ignored when they premiered.
    • Toonami has gone to good lengths to prevent this from ever happening again. Any time the schedule is updated, a whole commercial to advertise the entire lineup is aired. The commercials air at all times, during Cartoon Network's, Adult Swim's, and Toonami's own broadcastings. Even beyond that, more popular series like Bleach, Naruto, and Space☆Dandy are given their own advertisements.
    • In the case of Latin America, Toonami ads were cut considerably after the block was moved from afternoon to midnight in the schedule (not so much initially when the move was only in Mexico, but it did when the move spread to the rest of the Hispanic diaspora), but some of the series and movies were displayed on commercial breaks during the last full year of the block on air.
    • Boruto's lukewarm ratings and mixed reception among fans caused Toonami to stop advertising it and moving it to a 2:30am timeslot. The only way you would know about this is through the Toonami schedule bumpers. It was removed entirely in October 2019.
    • Toonami is doing very little to promote JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind. They're given more promotion to Paranoia Agent, a show that is not only over 15 years old, but it aired on [adult swim] 15 years ago. The fact that it airs at a 2:00am timeslot doesn't help matters either. The COVID pandemic delaying production of the dub led to it being removed entirely in June 2020. At least My Hero Academia, which also has a dub still in production, still airs reruns. This was later averted when the show returned to the block in August.
  • After lukewarm ratings for the first season of IGPX, Cartoon Network decided to move the show to Friday at Midnight, with exactly one ad detailing the change of the schedule.
  • In 2007, .Hack//Roots was randomly aired on Cartoon Network at Saturday morning at 4:30 AM EST. The only way anyone even knew it was airing was because someone noticed it listed on the scheduling and started to tell the internet about it. It wasn't even given a "Coming Up Next" bump like the network often announces for all its programming - bumpers during the show claimed the viewer was watching My Gym Partner's a Monkey of all things. There wasn't even an announcement of its licensing, let alone its broadcast. In other words, it really was that random and went away just as quickly (and randomly).
  • Some anime that were shown on Animax Asia (such as Brave Witches and Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor), receive no TV promos or advertising at all.
  • While on Cartoon Network, Pokémon: The Series was rarely advertised and was relegated to an early Saturday morning timeslot when many kids weren't even up. Eventually, the series changed stations to Disney XD, which advertised it more and aired it in more accessible time slots.
    • Pokemon actually had a better time slot (weekday evenings) when the channel was rerunning the old episodes. When the show moved to airing new episodes on Cartoon Network, it began getting more lackluster time slots.
  • Similar to Pokemon, Cartoon Network rarely (if at all) advertises Bakugan: Battle Planet. Its Sunday night and weekday morning bombs that happened at the beginning of the series were well-advertised, but the network stopped advertising it soon after, and the series wound up being banished to early weekend morning death slots.
  • Disney XD's advertisement of Yo-kai Watch has been hit-or-miss. It usually airs very few ads for it. The show was eventually pulled in early 2019 and replaced with Inazuma Eleven: Ares. The series returned in 2020, but still with minuscule promotion before it was pulled once again in August of the same year.
  • Trailers for the Pretty Cure movies don't usually get released until two to three months before their release to avoid showing the Sixth Ranger too early. Despite this, the films tend to do well at the box office.

    Fan Works 
  • Paradoxus (Winx Club, World of Warcraft): It's pretty common for stories, fanmade or original, that are posted on Wattpad to be promoted on other social media such as Facebook groups by means of book mock-ups, memes, banners, etc. Paradoxus, however, isn't advertised by its authors. Its popularity is all due to "mouth-to-mouth" and the admittedly mediocre Wattpad algorithm. Lila Gaela, a fellow fanfic creator with a greater follower base, recommended Bloom_Farella's works (this fanfic included) in her reviews book since she liked them so much.

    Films — Animation 
  • Warner Bros. didn't really know what to do with The Iron Giant; the studio kept putting off scheduling the release date several times to the point that the film's crew were worried that it would never be released. Warner eventually scheduled the opening for August 6, 1999, then gave it sparse advertising and practically no merchandising causing it to be a miserable flop in theaters; but gained a higher profile on home video and became a sleeper hit and cult classic, aided partly by the Cartoon Network marathoning the movie on Thanksgiving, thanks to head honcho Ted Turner seeing the movie during a flight and discovering he really liked it.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was originally going to be a straight-to-video film. However, partway through production, Warner Bros. decided to give the film a theatrical release. The film was completed in just 8-months, but Warner Bros. executives didn't give the film any marketing to speak of, so very people knew the film was in theaters even though Batman: The Animated Series was extremely popular at the time.
  • Rock and Rule had no advertising for its theatrical or home video releases. American distributor MGM acted like the movie didn't even exist. It went on to become one of the worst Box Office Bombs in animated film history as a result, making back only about $30,000 of its $8 million budget.
  • The Hasbro-Sunbow Entertainment '80s trifecta of The Transformers: The Movie, My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) and G.I. Joe: The Movie all fell victim to this.
  • Delgo though it became clear this was more a result of Not Screened for Critics.
  • Though a juggernaut of a franchise and being very well-reviewed, the Winnie the Pooh (2011) got buried twice by Disney's lack of confidence through limited publicity and being releasing against the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, effectively ending the idea of Disney creating any more traditionally-animated films. It was fortunately later Vindicated by Video.
  • Strange Magic: The trailer was released only two months before the release, which was in January.
  • This may be why Kubo and the Two Strings flopped at the box office despite universal acclaim from critics and audiences alike. Laika's films normally receive plenty of advertising, but Kubo's ads received barely any exposure on television and online. The studio's following film, Missing Link, suffered a similar fate, and being an even bigger flop than Kubo.
  • Osmosis Jones received an odd case of this in that it DID get a decent marketing budget, but Warner Bros. dumped it almost entirely onto Cartoon Network. Hence, commercial breaks on Cartoon Network were flooded with commercials and trailers for Osmosis Jones, but if you didn't watch Cartoon Network, chances are you never knew it existed. Even when it received a TV series, Ozzy & Drix, much of its audience was unaware it was a continuation of the movie - and the series in question aired on a different network from the one that had advertised the movie.
  • Despite getting tons of merchandise and promotion online, Olaf's Frozen Adventure was only mentioned in one television commercial for Coco, which was rarely run. Because of this, most audiences did not know about the feature and were surprised to see it take up the first 20 minutes of the film.
  • Twice Upon a Time was given an incredibly limited release, aired once on HBO and twice on Cartoon Network, then disappeared from the public entirely, despite support from George Lucas and Henry Selick.
  • Cats Don't Dance suffered this, lost in the shuffle of the Turner/Warner merger.
  • Relativity Media just left Free Birds to die without any form of advertisements. No merchandise, no billboards & it didn't even have at kids meal toy tie-in nor a video game based on the movie. Weinstein company did the same exact thing to Leap! 4 years prior. However, both ended up box office successes anyways.
  • STX Entertainment did a large-scale promotion for their US release of Playmobil: The Movie where most theaters sold every ticket for only $5. However, despite the reduced ticket price, Playmobil still had one of the worst openings in box office history, with a major factor being the fact that the advertising for it was pretty much non-existent outside of in-theater advertising for said promotion.
  • The trailer for PAW Patrol: The Movie was released two months before the film's release. In addition, the trailer's online premiere had been delayed twice before the official release. One of the original dates for the trailer's release was mentioned in this article.
  • Unlike most Sony movies, Wish Dragon wasn't advertised months prior to its release, which was only announced two months prior, and the ads didn't start until a few days before the launch.
  • America: The Motion Picture got no advertising aside from one trailer released three weeks before the film's release.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation had a cast trailer released in June 2021, but not a full trailer for the actual movie until August 12.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas was barely advertised on its original release, and ended up flopping at the box office.
  • Strange World was noted for paradoxically being a Disney Animated Canon entry opening in over 4000 theaters during a major holiday, and barely promoted at all by the company, with only a couple of trailers and posters at most and very little merchandise. The marketing was so barebones in fact, that many people didn't even know that the film existed at all until the week it came out. The blame was often pinned on the film releasing between two other productions that Disney gave more backing, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water.
  • Studio Ghibli intentionally minimized promotion for How Do You Live? (retitled The Boy and the Heron for the North American release), eschewing trailers, promotional stills, or any other conventional forms of advertising. The only indications that the film both existed and was coming out came from press announcements and a theatrical poster, neither of which gave any indication about the film's contents. According to producer Toshio Suzuki, the lack of advertising was done as a direct contrast with Ghibli's prior promotional campaigns, stating that "Doing the same thing you've done before, over and over, you get tired of it. So we wanted to do something different." Suzuki also mentioned that Hayao Miyazaki was worried about the lack of promotion, but nonetheless trusted the decision and felt that it was ultimately the best course of action, and it paid off as well, becoming a commercial hit in Japan.
  • Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken was given very little promotion ahead of release (the first trailer only debuted three months ahead of its June 30 release date), and ultimately resulted in DreamWorks Animation's lowest opening weekend to date. The film wound up on digital just 18 days after release.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Big Trouble was delayed due to the events of 9/11, and then given an untrumpeted release when it became clear that if they waited for 9/11 to blow over, they'd all be dead before they could release it.
  • Harvey Weinstein's companies, Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company, were pretty infamous for this.
  • The Boondock Saints. Justified, given that the More Dakka-filled movie was released shortly after the Columbine high school massacre.
  • An early effort by Sam Raimi and The Coen Brothers, Crimewave, a sort of slapstick gangster spoof was met with disastrous results when screened for audiences and was released only in five theaters across the states. The VHS was long out of print by the time it finally received a DVD release in 2013.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Aquaman (2018) waited five months until release before releasing the very first trailer, thanks to a combination of long post-production cycle and executive upheaval at DC Films. Director James Wan himself insisted on waiting until SDCC 2018 to release the first trailer as he wants to make it as faithful to the final movie as possible, especially given how previous trailers for DCEU movies have misled fans on the final product. The result ended up gaining positive reviews from critics and audiences, and the first film in the franchise to make over $1 billion worldwide.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League got hit with this as Warner Bros. Studios's only efforts being merely to retweet the trailers with the heavy lifting being done by parent company AT&T, their streaming service HBO Max, Zack Snyder himself and fans on social media. Reasons speculated for this include Interservice Rivalry (AT&T dictating that new releases be shown on HBO Max at the same time as their theatrical runs) to those at DC Films who decided to move away from Snyder's vision for the film franchise after Justice League (2017) trying to ensure it doesn't come back (which gained traction after WB CEO Ann Sarnoff said shortly after its release that there were no plans to pick up on it). By comparison, WB put way more effort into promoting Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat (2021) and Space Jam: A New Legacy. For some reason, WB also kept the "Own it now!" home video trailer unlisted on Youtube, preventing it from reaching a large viewership (though the film still sold well, word of mouth and it being a Justice League superhero ensemble film greatly helped).
    • Blue Beetle (2023) received little promotion ahead of release, with only two trailers ahead of release and relatively few TV spots. The film ended up having the second-lowest opening weekend in entire franchise.
  • Donnie Darko: Not, for once, because the studio was trying to sabotage the movie, but because between the small budget and the unfortunate timing of the release of a movie in which a jet engine falling into a house is a key plot point within two months of 9/11, there was neither the resources nor the will to widely promote the movie no matter how much buzz it had gotten at Sundance.
  • The 2008 feature film The Midnight Meat Train. Based on the short story by Clive Barker and directed by Japanese cult favourite Ryuhei Kitamura (Godzilla: Final Wars), the movie is a complete and utter bloodbath with the built-in typical horror movie demographic, and it didn't have a high budget. What happened? The company that was releasing it, Lionsgate, switched management while the film was nearing completion. Rather than continuing his predecessor's work and fulfilling the obligations, the new exec shunted the film into a handful of cheapo dollar theaters, without a whit of advertising. It was Kitamura's first American film, and in interviews, he had indicated that he wanted to switch to making films in America permanently, despite being quite bankable in Japan.
  • Averted and played straight with Zyzzyx Road: It played briefly in a theater to get around a pay scale loophole, inadvertently getting attention as the lowest-grossing film in history. The film was released to DVD internationally later in 2006 as intended, earning over 10,000 times its box office receipts (not that high bar to jump through as the receipt was $30 — which the director personally refunded). However, it still hasn't been released domestically and hasn't made back its $2,000,000 budget by foreign sales alone.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie. The studio behind it, Gramercy Pictures, put everything into advertising the Pamela Anderson film Barb Wire, a Pamela Anderson vehicle in the superhero action genre which, to add insult to injury, didn't sell very many tickets.
  • MirrorMask barely turned a head on its cinema run. Consider the visual style of that film and you'll get some idea how heavily you have to bury it for no-one to notice it. The entire cinema run was basically an afterthought, as the studio was banking from the outset on it making its real money as a cult hit on home video.
  • George Lucas was afraid Twentieth Century Fox would do this to the original Star Wars film, a.k.a. A New Hope, so he secured the merchandising rights in the hopes that he could promote the movie if they didn't. 20th Century Fox happily handed them over, wondering why on Earth he wanted the worthless merchandising rights instead of more money up front. Lucas made a mint in action figures and X-wing fighter toys.
  • Tom Laughlin, the director/star of Billy Jack, was able to win distribution rights back from the original company when he realized they were doing this. He then started one of the first examples of saturation advertising and made it a hit.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen had only 117 prints made for the entire US distribution. Gilliam sourly noted at the time that minor arthouse films got 400 prints; the culprit was a regime change at Columbia Pictures.
  • 13 is the theatrical example of this. It didn't have any television commercials, instead relying on a few print ads and internet videos.
  • James Gunn suffered this twice in a row.
    • Universal hardly promoted Slither despite its critical acclaim and later tried to blame the film's failure on Gunn for not making it more accessible.
    • It happened again with Super. After IFC Films spent over a million to buy the rights, they sat on it and only released a trailer four weeks before opening. Other than a few posters, there was almost no marketing on the film and it died in limited release (also some theatres won't play it due to it being unrated, as the director and studio expected an NC-17 rating).note  Thankfully, the movie did really well during its simultaneous Video On Demand release, where it was IFC Films' highest-grossing VOD title for a while.
  • Let Me In got this due to a distributor change less than three months before release (Relativity Media bought original distributor Overture for their distribution outlet). Rather than give an ad campaign given to most wide releases, Relativity spent most of its money promoting the movie it was facing that weekend, The Social Network (which was co-financed but not distributed by them) while the studio was completely quiet about the film (it wasn't even mentioned on Relativity's website while The Social Network was). The film grossed only $12 million in the USA.
  • Dimension Films, as well as owner The Weinstein Company, was notorious for doing this, films like Venom (2005), Texas Rangers (which was inexplicably shelved for over a year) and DOA: Dead or Alive were given very limited releases with virtually no advertising whatsoever.
  • 20th Century Fox was rather infamous for this. Some examples include:
    • They barely marketed The Big Year (only putting out a trailer a month before opening and having very little television exposure) despite having three big names in the cast (Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson), an established supporting cast and a director whose last two films grossed over $100 million. Also, the marketing hid the film's entire plot (three men on a year-long birdwatching journey, which was based on a non-fiction book).
    • Tigerland: Zero advertising.
    • Ravenous (1999): Very little advertising which also mismarketed it as a teen-oriented horror film.
    • Idiocracy: Zero advertising (of course, given that it was on the contractual-minimum six screens nationwide, almost any ads would have been a waste of money).
    • Even after the Disney buyout, most Fox movies that Disney had to contractually release in theaters were undersold due to Disney prioritizing its tentpole Cash Cow Franchises. Costly movies like Ad Astra and The Last Duel ended up Acclaimed Flops as a result (though in the latter case, the COVID-19 Pandemic didn't help either). There's a fair bet that the Avatar sequels won't suffer from this, however, for obvious reasons.
      • In particular, there's the last two X-Men Film Series releases, no matter if they were reliable moneymakers. Dark Phoenix already had bad buzz, but with Fox's marketing team being mostly fired in the takeover, it was so underpromoted that awareness for the much lower profile Rocketman (2019) was higher, resulting in it becoming a $133 million bomb. And The New Mutants didn't release its official trailer until less than three months before its long delayed spring 2020 release date (and even then the movie got delayed yet again to that summer as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic closing down movie theatres and messing with movie production and keeping most audiences at home).
      • The Empty Man got even less exposure than even The New Mutants, with its trailer and poster not debuting until one week before its release.
  • Intentionally invoked by Paramount for Brain Donors to sink the movie after the Zucker brothers left the studio before its release.
  • This trope also affected The Way, an indie film by Emilio Estevez. It was to the point that the director's father/star Martin Sheen went on various talk shows to drum up publicity.
  • Paramount did this to Not Fade Away, a drama about rock music from David Chase. Released it into a crowded Christmas field (and expanding to 500 theatres two weeks later), there was almost no marketing or publicity done for it and the studio more or less swept it under the rug while heavily promoting long on the shelf fare like Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
  • In contrast to the lengthy but cryptic lead-in to the original Cloverfield, Paramount waited until two months before release to announce 10 Cloverfield Lane with a surprise trailer in front of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, blindsiding film journalism completely. Tropes Are Not Bad, however, and the surprise trailer led to significant hype for the film, which became a notable box office hit.
    • Two years later, Netflix, which had purchased The Cloverfield Paradox off of Paramount, one-upped the 10 Cloverfield Lane ad campaign by launching a Super Bowl ad for Paradox that announced the film would release as soon as the game ended. This led to the title becoming a ratings hit for the streamer, terrible reviews and audience reception be damned.
  • Another Christmas 2012 Paramount release that suffered for this was Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away. Paramount only got it on about 800 screens in North America, screens that were shared with other movies; it managed only two showings per day at each venue. There was a trailer and a TV spot or two but no other promotional efforts, possibly because Paramount couldn't figure out how to promote a film that, while produced by James Cameron, had no name performers in the cast (it's a compilation of Cirque live show performances linked by an Excuse Plot). As well, Paramount may have been preoccupied not only with another production they opened that particular day, Jack Reacher, but also with wringing every last drop out of DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians before the holiday season was over, as that film — aimed at the same family audience, but a far more expensive, heavily-hyped effort — was underperforming at the box office.
  • Disney partially did this with Muppets Most Wanted: The Muppets conquered social media websites by force but peculiarly abstained from doing real-life ads. As a Muppet fan pointed out, its release period rival Mr. Peabody & Sherman did the exact opposite with its marketing and proceeded to defeat underperforming Muppets at the box office, showing why you shouldn't put all your eggs in the Viral Marketing basket, especially if you're trying to reach a family audience. (That Muppets Most Wanted opened up against the Critic-Proof teen phenomenon Divergent AND that Disney had a blockbuster of their own to unleash just two weeks later really didn't help.)
  • While the failure of Return to Oz is often blamed on Nightmare Fuel that didn't sit well with the target audience (and not without reason), a lesser-known factor was Michael Eisner taking over as CEO. The film, along with other projects championed by the former regime, got dumped into theaters with little advertising, save for reviews that criticized the darker aspects. While a few high-profile fans, such as Harlan Ellison, encouraged audiences to see it before it vanished, the film flopped as expected, putting an end to the directing career of Walter Murch.
  • Terry Jones' version of The Wind in the Willows. In America, it played on seven screens without advertising, and the rights got dumped to Disney due to Columbia Pictures executives simply having no faith in it (the film's poor box-office in its native UK most likely was a factor).
  • Tomb Raider was barely promoted (despite that being an established film reboot of the 2001 film, and like that being based on a successful game series - namely, a 2013 reinvention). Not even any information or details on the production were given. Though as expected, it debuted on opening weekend on March 16 being a financial flop; earning $22 million in second place behind Black Panther, and was a domestic bomb. This made matters worse given its studio, Warner Bros., was heavily promoting Ready Player One (released two weeks later) more than the Tomb Raider reboot.
  • In an unusual case for a big-budget tentpole release, Solo, which was a Troubled Production and fired its directors shortly before photography was scheduled to wrap and was almost entirely reshot, was frequently cited for its complete lack of promotion. Scheduled for a May 25, 2018 release, it wasn't until early February, less than four months before the release date, that Lucasfilm finally put out a trailer and promotional material for the film. For reference, the trailer for the prior Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, debuted eight months before its release date. The result was the first film in the saga to be considered a financial disappointment, leading to Disney putting any further spinoffs on hold (at least for the time being).
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy: The first trailer for the film was released only three months before its July 2021 release date.
  • With the 1971 movie Wake in Fright, United Artists did nothing to promote the movie outside one trailer for it. To make matters worse, the film opened in America in a single theater on the east side of New York, on a Sunday night, during a blizzard.
  • Despite rave reviews following its Cannes premiere, Disney did very, very little to advertise The Straight Story, and it only played in about 140 theaters and was quietly released on home video.
  • Below got delayed for over eight months and was deliberately under-advertised by Dimension Films; not only did it still not have a trailer or a poster less than two weeks prior to its release, David Twohy had to create the official website himself.
  • MGM invoked this trope with Poltergeist III after the tragic death of Heather O'Rourke four months before release, in order to avoid coming off as exploitative.
  • Jungle Cruise had the misfortune of its first trailer being released right before the COVID-19 pandemic. After that event happened, nothing was heard about it (aside from a release date change) until May 2021, when it was announced that it would be released on Disney+ as a Premier Access title. Instead, Disney decided to focus its marketing on Black Widow (2021) and Cruella.
  • Increasingly becoming the norm with films released during the COVID-19 Pandemic; in the face of frequently shifting release dates and hybrid availability in theaters and digital platforms, studios have begun to hold off on releasing even trailers until 1-3 months in advance, which is similar to the advertising timeframe for television shows. Many titles set for dual premieres on HBO Max and theaters held off until barely a month was left to go (notably Those Who Wish Me Dead and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It), while A Quiet Place Part II (which was heavily advertised prior to the pandemic - its original debut was even planned for the exact week where COVID closed theaters worldwide) didn't receive a "Final Trailer" until less than four weeks before release.
  • Infinite got its first trailer less than two weeks prior to its debut on Paramount+.
  • Chaos Walking (2021) got a bit of media buzz when it first went into principal production in 2017, but after it was delayed for reshoots once Lionsgate reportedly declared the original cut to be "unreleasable", the only thing most media outlets talked about was 'what went wrong'; it then got no coverage for over two years before a trailer was finally released in November 2020, by which point a lot of people had forgotten this movie even existed save for the occasional "So when is this thing coming out?" And this was only two months before its original January 2021 release date until it got shunted to March. Aside from that trailer, a handful of teasers and clips, and a few interviews with the cast and crew the same month it was released, the movie got little advertising at all.
  • Anna had already suffered delays, but with director Luc Besson caught up in accusations of sexual assault, got released with very little marketing, such as press junkets or screenings for critics.
  • Madame Web (2024) had just one major trailer released three months before its release (all prior Sony's Spider-Man Universe movies had at least three trailers and more than seven months between the first teaser and theatrical release), and only about two weeks before the movie hit theatres did Sony start releasing smaller ads.

  • Book advertising in the United States on television since the age of Dianetics ended is incredibly rare, and always badly done; you can blame works like Kitty Kelley's unauthorized biographies and networks afraid of multi-million dollar libel lawsuits on the current rarity of them. The most publishers can seem to muster is a zoom-in and out of the book cover, a vague plot synopsis written with deep Narm, a couple of reviews from an author in the same field, and then a drop of "at all booksellers, or as an e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble". Only James Patterson seems to put any effort into his book ads, and he has to bankroll them on his own. Thankfully online book ads definitely have more effort put into them, and the publishing industry has put their eggs into the more reliable television interview circuit, where an author can go onto a talk show and sell the book on their own terms.
  • David Langford once said that his publishers, unable to decide if one of his books should be marketed as fiction or non-fiction, settled for the compromise position of not marketing it at all. He also wrote a lengthy piece about the vanishing publicity budget for War in 2080, which eventually ran to "a small ad in the back of the Gamekeepers' and Poachers' Gazette".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss was stuck in awkward time slots and premiered on Nickelodeon around the same time as Blue's Clues and Hey Arnold!, which were heavily advertised.
  • This is how Community was promoted when it aired on Thursdays:
    Typical NBC Thursday ad: The Office is on! Office! Office! Office! 30 Rock is on too! Isn't that show awesome? A cool new episode of Parks and Recreation is on too! And Community is also on, but so is The Office! Office! Office! Office!
  • [adult swim] ran a show called Paid Programming at 4:30 am on without any on-air acknowledgment. It's like it was specifically designed to confuse viewers. It still got more advertising than the program's creators wanted, as it was announced at a convention. The Paid Programming slot unleashed Too Many Cooks upon the world, though it took a gray-market YouTube upload to get it any traction.
  • Arrested Development got almost no promotion from FOX, even after it became a critical darling and Cult Classic. Given how little publicity it got, it's a miracle it lasted 3 seasons (and unsurprising FOX ended up killing it). Netflix later revived the series for two more seasons.
  • Kristin Chenoweth's summer sitcom "Kristin" had few ads promoting it. It ended up Screwed by the Network after 6 episodes.
  • Police, Camera, Action! and Police Stop! - which were barely advertised at the time. Ironically, the likes of World In Action, The Cook Report and Coronation Street got a mention. But they were still popular...
  • Once Dollhouse started airing the second season, the only way to see any promos for the show were minutes before the episode aired.
  • The WB was particularly bad about this for some shows. Jack & Bobby was hardly advertised at all until near the end of the season, by which point it was too late for the ratings to recover enough to avoid cancellation. For Your Love on the other hand somehow managed to last for 4 years despite rarely getting much in the way of advertisement.
  • The US version of The Mole fell victim to cancellation at the end of Season 5 after ABC's marketing department did so little to promote the show that even many die-hard fans were completely unaware that the show had returned for the first third of the season.
  • ABC did the same with Million Dollar Mind Game in 2011, which was thrown into their Sunday afternoon Pit of Doom to be killed by the NFL games on the other networks.
  • German TV channel Pro 7 had only a single trailer for the Doctor Who revival series and showed it a whole week before the premiere just once or twice a day in the afternoon. After that there was no advertising to speak of, they didn't even care to update their information page for the show when they changed the timeslot after a temporary cancellation. Many fans think that this killed the show.
  • Top Gear one had an In-Universe example. The hosts are tasked with putting on an automotive-themed art show. Richard goes on the radio to promote the show and talks about several things... except the art show. Jeremy is listening and is not pleased.
  • This is pretty much what hosed Law & Order: Criminal Intent no matter what channel it was on. While Dick Wolf had always intended to keep all three main shows in the Law & Order universe afloat, the network had little to no interest in the other L&O series since it did not have a respectable decade-and-a-half run with a good fan following or focus on pretty people solving rapes and murders and gave it no advertising. This came to be to the dismay of many cast members, especially Chris Noth, so the series' move to the USA Network in its seventh season came as a breath of fresh air to both the crew and the fans. Unfortunately, while it did receive much more advertising and attention from the network, it ended up having to compete with SVU again which by then was adored by that network, as well (and ironically enough, their advertising of "do you prefer the Special Victims Unit or Major Case Squad?" did not help), in addition to USA's other popular original programming. It carried on for another few years before ending in 2011.
    • Law & Order: Trial by Jury suffered a similar fate, but circumstances were ready playing against the series from the get-go: aside from its limited advertising and the belief that the characters didn't have much chemistry with one another, tragedy struck when Jerry Orbach, who had both his presence and his character, Det. Lennie Briscoe, to be considered by most fans to be The Heart of the entire franchise, passed away from cancer in late 2004 after filming only two episodes. After that, quite understandably, both fans and the network lost interest and the series barely lasted one season.
    • Averted in the case of Law & Order: Los Angeles. The network advertised the shit out of the show, had one of its lead characters appear on an episode of SVU in an attempt for a successful lead-in for their spinoff, Wolf enthusiastically saying that the show was meant to serve as a replacement for the original series and airing numerous TV spots for it even before the Mothership was cancelled. In spite of all this, ratings lagged considerably and even killing off one of the main characters or executive producer Rene Balcer practically begging fans to ask the network to save the show did nothing to bring in viewers before it ended after one season.
  • In the weeks leading up to the Sky One broadcast of the second half of the only season of The Muppets (2015), they flooded the breaks with trailers about the return of Modern Family (in the slot immediately after). The Muppets wasn't mentioned at all.
  • Helstrom was very badly advertised by Hulu, with very little in the way of press junkets as well. This is presumable due its status as a Contractual Obligation Project before Marvel Television folds into Marvel Studios.
  • In November of 2021, Freeform discontinued its Kickoff to Christmas block in favor of airing their Fun Day block all month. However, unlike Kickoff to Christmas, this was barely advertised at all on their social media, with the only movies to get promotion being airings of Inside Out, The Parent Trap, The Simpsons Movie and a marathon of The Princess Diaries films, with the rest of the promotion on their social media hyping up 25 Days Of Christmas. Adding salt to the wound, most of the movies that made their Freeform premieres that month (most notably The Greatest Showman) weren't advertised as such, with the exception of The Simpsons Movie.
  • The March 2022 episode premieres of Donkey Hodie were advertised like this, with most episodes not getting advertised until after PBS aired them, with the exception of "A Night Out; Poetry Problem" and "Swoop-A-Rino; Duck Duck's Great Adventure" (likely due to its use of "You've Got To Do It" from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood). To make matters worse, the latter was advertised only 10 minutes before it aired on TV.
  • Westworld Season 4 gets very little marketing given that the teaser trailer was released a month before the premiere while the official trailer was released a week before along with a small promotion event in New York. There's also only one promotional poster and no character posters which is a huge contrast to the heavy promotion that HBO did with the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon. Because of these, very few people knew that there was a Season 4. It doesn't help that the two-year gap between Seasons 3 and 4 and that House of the Dragon would debut right after Westworld killed the momentum of the hype. Many fans believed that poor marketing is one of the factors that led to the show's cancellation.

    Manufactured Goods 
  • The 2002-04 Ford SVT Focus was developed by a special sub-division of Ford (that also made the Mustang Cobra and Lightning truck); exclusive marketing was part of the SVT image. It was available only through select dealerships, not included in the regular Focus full-line brochures or on the main Ford website, and SVT's relatively small ad budget mostly went to the more profitable truck and Mustang. People who owned it loved it, but many others who would have didn't know it existed until it was too late.
  • Microsoft's line of Zune players suffered from this greatly. The ad campaign to accompany its initial launch was half-assed at best and before it had a chance to prove itself in the market (and break Apple's monopoly) it fell victim to a vocal Hate Dumb rooted in Quality by Popular Vote. Only the hatedom wasn't as widespread as most believe because most mainstream consumers had no idea they even existed since Microsoft basically stopped advertising them at all by the time the second gen models arrived, save for one faux-infomercial starring an Expy of the Shamwow guy.
  • Asuna cars in Canada were this, do you remember the Asuna SE and GT? About the only ones anyone can remember were the Asuna Sunfire and Asuna Sunrunner but that's about it. Ironically, there's a small campaign to revive the brand.
  • To promote Pontiac's all-new 2004 model line, GM sent out a mass mailing of fancy booklets titled "Meet the new Pontiacs". Conspicuously absent was any mention of their new captive import from Holden, the new GTO. While GM ignored the GTO, the front drive (and home-grown) G6 was extensively promoted to a similar demographic. The GTO was canceled after the 2006 model year. GM would axe the entire Pontiac division on October 31, 2010. GM tried to import the Holden Commodore again as the Chevrolet SS in 2014, where it would again run headfirst into this trope. Combine this with the silly and confusing namenote , a body that looked way too similar to other Chevrolets already on the lots, and a relatively high sticker price, and only around 13,000 cars were sold despite high marks from the automotive press, and those 13,000 people are about how many knew it existed in the first place. Production of the SS ended when the Commodore itself ceased production along with the rest of Holden in 2017.

  • Asia's third album, Astra, received very little promotion from Geffen Records at the time of release. Keyboardist Geoff Downes claims it was because of distribution changes the label was going through in Europe at the time, and the album's release happened to be caught in the middle of it. The album's sales disappointed as a result, and it would cause Asia's lineup to become splintered for over two decades afterword.
  • Used intentionally by Beyoncé with the release of her fifth studio album, 2013's Beyonce. The album was recorded in secret and released on iTunes without any prior announcement or marketing of any kind other than a mention on Beyonce's Twitter account, though the unconventional release generated much more exposure from media coverage and heavy social media discourse than any type of paid advertising probably would have accomplished. Consequently, while Radiohead's In Rainbows is widely considered the Trope Maker for the surprise album, Beyonce is viewed as the Trope Codifier.
  • David Bowie:
    • Much to RCA Records' dismay, Bowie deliberately opted not to tour for Low, instead working as a faceless backing musician on Iggy Pop's own tour for The Idiot. RCA themselves did little to promote the album, even delaying it past its original November 1976 release date due to their belief that it was too bleak and uncommercial for the Christmas season. Despite this mutual lack of advertising, the album was a commercial success, if only off of brand recognition.
    • Bowie recorded The Next Day in secrecy and dropped its debut single, "Where are We Now?", on iTunes with zero fanfare. The sudden appearance of the single and its parent album came as a severe shock to fans and industry reporters alike, due to this being Bowie's first new material in roughly a decade; everyone had assumed he had retired after suffering a heart attack on tour in 2004.
  • Tyler Childers did this with his 2020 album Long Violent History, which he snuck onto social media and streaming services without advance notice.
  • Eric Church released his 2015 album Mr. Misunderstood to his fan club with no advance warning to anyone that he was working on a new album.
  • Eminem's 2018 album Kamikaze was released to digital music stores and streaming services without any promotion or pre-announcement, unlike the extensive marketing done for Revival, and yet it reached number one in multiple countries. The same thing also happened to 2020's Music to Be Murdered By.
  • Radiohead's In Rainbows was announced only ten days before its release, far shorter than was the norm for popular musicians at the time and too short to provide any conventional advertising in advance. The band cited the growing online landscape and the threat of content leaks as a factor, and the move's success is widely credited with inventing the "surprise album" as a release model.
  • Factory Showroom by They Might Be Giants just sort of appeared out of nowhere in the fall of 1996. Elektra Records had basically given up on the band after a 1994 management shakeup had robbed TMBG of their staunchest supporters at the label, and did nothing to promote the album outside of releasing one single ("S-E-X-X-Y") that was ignored by alt-rock radio. It didn't help matters that the band was in the middle of transitioning its promotion efforts towards the then-embryonic World Wide Web. They'd largely stopped mailing newsletters to members of their Info Club, which had been a major vehicle in the past to keep fans abreast of new album plans. The first any fans heard of a new album in the works was a post by John Flansburgh on the TMBG Usenet group in June of 1996, which left people who weren't hardcore fans and/or lacked internet access out of the loop. After the album's poor performance, Elektra agreed to release them from their contract.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • ECW was famously Screwed by the Network in this way with TNN refusing to run a single ad for them, giving Paul Heyman ammo for his anti-network rants. They even created a character named Cyrus who was supposed to be part of the network and kept screwing them over!
  • After NBC purchased Telemundo, they did away with all advertising for IWA Puerto Rico.


    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the reasons, along with not bothering to stock the cards, that the American release of Battle Spirits failed.

  • Most theatrical works get little in terms of televised advertisement, but this is because of how the American theatre industry works. Posters and such are commonplace, but commercials and trailers are not, as outside of New York, this requires travel to see a show and television advertising would be mostly wasteful. Only major blockbuster (usually Broadway) musicals like Wicked get ads, with 'road show' companies of musicals getting local advertising to spread the word about their performances. The Tonys and late-night talk shows also allow a much better form of advertising in scenes of the shows themselves.

    Video Games 
  • In Japan, video game advertising is far more visible and frequent than the US, with commercials conveying the type of story and music involved, and showing actual gameplay instead of some vaguely funny skit and a title. Square Enix ran some well made ads for Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG and Final Fantasy VI, while the US got a commercial of Mog as a casting director for monsters with no indication of gameplay, and bizarre ads for Yoshi's Island,note  Mischief Makers,note  and EarthBound (1994)note  may have scared people away.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day received limited advertising due to Nintendo's reluctance to promote the game, with its marketing being confined to late-night TV commercials and men's magazines, and Nintendo Power refused to review the game or acknowledge its existence. This was a contributing factor in its poor sales.
  • This is very common for games made by smaller game studios. Most games have a publisher who handles the marketing and distribution. Since The New '10s, digital distribution has become much more widespread and it's become easier to release a game with a smaller publisher or even self-publish. This has however come with a downside - most independent game studios don't have the budget to run commercials on television, buy banner ads, or run advertisements in magazines. Thus, a lot rely mostly via word-of-mouth marketing on YouTube, Twitch, or gaming blogs after their initial Kickstarter. (Assuming they even have one) And even then, for every grassroots success like Stardew Valley or Five Nights at Freddy's, there are about three or four games like Thimbleweed Park, Dreamfall Chapters, Kindergarten, and Youtubers Life that release quietly and at best become a modest success. Even sleeper hits like The Witcher or Divinity: Original Sin II are rather uncommon. Steam deserves special mention here - Steam had over 7600 games released in 2017 alone, and gets more and more each year. (With rereleases also counting) This makes it very hard for smaller games to get noticed.
    • Galaxy Trail is one indie developer that is becoming notorious for relying almost entirely on word-of-mouth marketing due to budget constraints. This eventually worked-out for their first game, Freedom Planet, which managed to become a surprise indie hit after dropping in 2014. But relying on the same strategy for the sequel Freedom Planet 2 turned out to be a mistake, as the Platform Game scene became much more crowded since then. The sequel ended up being released so quietly that even many long-time fans of the first game remain in the dark about the game finally leaving Development Hell in September 2022.
  • Due to its exclusivity, Apple Arcade (Apple's subscription service for library of almost entirely exclusive, mostly indie, games without in app purchases and can be played on both IOS and Mac) games are often released without any fanfare.
  • This is thought to be one of the reasons FreeSpace 2 did not sell very well, despite overwhelming critical acclaim and praise. Particularly bad since its predecessor, Descent: Freespace gained respectable enough sales to warrant an ad campaign.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: While the game did have a TV commercial or two, most of the marketing was mostly limited to a dedicated Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel Wii Channel. The game saw scant mention in media briefings and press events prior to release, and the official website for the series was never updated to mention the new installment.
    • Metroid Prime Trilogy: The Compilation Rerelease received no TV commercials, and saw highly-limited internet advertising beyond the official website for the series being updated for the first time in years.
    • Metroid: Other M: While the game received a high-budget live-action-CGI commercial and a website, ads in the West only started running a few days before the game's release.
  • Sony hardly marketed the Playstation Move despite both the acclaim of the peripheral, and wireless gameplay being the latest trend at the time. They also seemed to rely on nothing but strong word of mouth in America to sell the Playstation Vita after 2013, after refocusing the platform on Japanese imports and independent titles.
  • One of the biggest problems that Armored Core had was that it was almost never advertised past E3. This caused the game to be thrown between publishing companies like a spiked ball. To elaborate, the series had been taken up by three different companies after the original dropped it (after Last Raven). Sega picked the series up for 4, only to drop it and for Ubisoft to pick it up. Ubisoft dumped it, so then Bandai had the ball for Armored Core 5.
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment seems to give absolutely no importance to advertising games of the Tales Series in the West. Usually it would follow a pattern of localization announcement followed by months of silence, and then a short trailer a week before releasing; and that's it. And they wonder why the series was never that popular around here. The only titles that were decently advertised were the two Tales of Symphonia games, but Nintendo was probably the one responsible for that.
  • The Klonoa series, despite being well-received by critics, barely got any advertising outside of Japan, and what little that the US did get involved print ads like this one. No wonder the series is an Acclaimed Flop.
  • Project .hack was well-advertised to begin with in the US, but every release after the first game, including the sequel series .hack//G.U., experienced this, in addition to getting the Friday Night Death Slot if it was an anime other than .hack//SIGN.
  • A certain MMORPG called Flyff is slowly dying out, partially because of this and partially because of... interesting decisions being made by its developers and host.
  • When was the last time you saw an EverQuest (not EverQuest II) advertisement? You might not even know the game is still around and they are still releasing expansion packs every year.
  • With the exceptions of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Bayonetta 2, and NieR: Automata, this has happened to PlatinumGames with every game they put out:
    • Madworld had a damn good TV ad, but unfortunately it got very little airtime, most likely due to Sega believing that such an immensely violent and gory game would tarnish the Wii's image.
    • Infinite Space got no advertising outside of Japan whatsoever, and the advertising it got in Japan was very, very limited. The game was shipped out to stores without any announcement beforehand, which resulted in god-awful sales, and it has now become one of the rarest games for the DS. note 
    • Bayonetta received a huge ad campaign in Japan. In other countries, Europe only got a magazine ad which gave very little indication to what the game was about, while the U.S. got a great magazine ad that was rarely printed, and a mediocre television ad that was rarely aired.
    • Vanquish got advertising in Japan and France, but not America or other parts of Europe, due to Sega choosing to promote Sonic Colors instead.
    • Anarchy Reigns got no advertising outside of Japan, save for a Gamestop pre-order ad.
    • Outside of Japan, The Wonderful 101 had lots of Internet Ads, but no television or print advertising at all. Even worse is the fact that the internet ads kept emphasizing the fact that it's on the Nintendo eShop, which led people to believe that it's an eShop exclusive title. Because of this, and heavy amounts of promotion on the eShop, it has sold exceptionally better on the eShop than it has in retail. When PlatinumGames took the reins themselves to publish the remaster for Switch, PC and PS4, there was barely any promotion for the game following the initial Kickstarter. Though this can be justified by Platinum having little in terms of a marketing budget.
    • The video game of The Legend of Korra got no advertisement, all thanks to the show itself being Screwed by the Network.
    • With Astral Chain, the studio was both aware and invested in averting the unfortunate trend by barraging the audience with dozens of gameplay trailers and development updates for months, up until the game's actual release.
  • Most of the gamesnote  made by Game Freak under the "Gear Project System", its initiative during the 2010s to create new IPs outside of Pokémon, was victim to this, having little-to-no social media presence or press coverage. The financial failure of these titles, combined with most of them receiving mixed critical reception and Pokémon titles requiring increased numbers of staff, resulted in Game Freak completely abandoning the initiative at the end of the decade.
  • Capcom was very bad about this during the sixth-gen era of console gaming. Neither Killer7, Ōkami, nor God Hand got any kind of advertising in the West. Okami did get promotion years later for its Wii, XBLA, and PSN re-releases, though.
  • The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, of the House of the Dead franchise, got almost no advertising outside of a Twitter post when it was plopped onto Steam. The developers were apparently hoping to ride the wave of hype and the cult status the series has gotten for the very cheesy second game, which also had its own even-more-cheesy Typing of the Dead game, and its own cult following.
  • One of the many reasons Nintendo's games don't sell quite as well in the UK, is because Nintendo of Europe's attempts at advertising them are, in a summary, "on their website, in the official magazine and maybe on the Disney Channel if you're lucky". Okay, the most important games ever (think Pokémon, mainstream Super Mario Bros. platformer, or perhaps The Legend of Zelda or even Kirby if you're lucky) might get a commercial during a lesser-known TV show, but anything else may as well not be advertised at all in the region. It's even worse in Poland, where there are absolutely no advertisements for Nintendo's games. The only Nintendo advertisement in the country since a long time was a commercial for the Wii, which played way after the console's original launch, and a commercial for the Nintendo 3DS, which was one of the international ads with terrible dubbing. Both commercials received very little air time. As a result, Nintendo made no effort to advertise the Wii U, and finding the console at a retail shop is a borderline miracle. Likely as a result of the massive failure of the Wii U and learning from their mistakes, Nintendo has averted this trope with an absolute vengeance with regards to their follow-up console, the Nintendo Switch. Their extremely aggressive advertising of the console and its big hit games is one reason why the Switch sold so staggeringly well during its opening monthsnote .
  • Despite Nintendo publishing quite a bit of new IPs, a lot of them tend to suffer from invisible advertising - which is why you rarely see people referring to Ever Oasis or Fossil Fighters.
  • Active Worlds, Worlds Chat and other obscure MMOs fell victim to this a few years after their debut as well as being forced to duel with the juggernaut that is Second Life despite coming out years earlier. They all fell into obscurity as well due to this.
  • Ask a person what games launched with the original Xbox. Almost all of them will say that there was only Halo: Combat Evolved, Amped Snowboarding, and sports games. This is all thanks to the fact that these were the only games advertised at launch; games like Cel Damage and Mad Dash Racing were swept under the rug by both their publishers and Microsoft alike.
  • Generally considered by the (tiny) community of the online version of Dynasty Warriors to be its downfall. The only people who knew about the game were those who already had an Aeria Games account, were lucky enough to find an advertisement while browsing the internet in things completely unrelated, or saw an article detailing the closure of the servers. Naturally, just like all of their other failures, Aeria Games has gone on the record to say it's Koei's fault, not theirs for not providing the necessary funding for a better advertisement campaign.
  • What caused Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath to bomb on release, despite its positive reviews. This caused it to be somewhat of a Franchise Killer until an HD remake for Abe's Oddysee was released eight years later.
  • Dragon Quest games post-ninth installment (which had Seth Green in commercials) have gotten very little, if any, publicity outside Japan, which may have contributed to the beginning of a new dark age for the series outside Japan.
  • The western release of the first Gungriffon had essentially no marketing from Sega, a fact that some publications lamented in their reviews of the game.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Being a niche series about living on a farm, Story of Seasons games generally have no advertisements or televised commercials. The main form of advertisement throughout the 1990s and 2000s were articles and paper ads. In the 2010s, Marvelous and XSeed began frequently using online marketing to advertise the series.
    • Natsume only advertises their Harvest Moon (Natsume) titles online.
  • Dillon's Rolling Western games have suffered from this, due to being eShop only titles. The third game in particular, despite getting a retail release (in Europe and Japan), flew completely under the radar. This was especially the case in North America - where a lot of people shelved their 3DSes in 2017 once the Switch came out (With some only taking them out for Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.)
  • The vast majority of BEMANI games get promotional material and location testsnote  roughly half a year prior to release. pop'n music peace, however, got the short end of the stick, with an announcement of the game shown only one day prior to the game's release, with no location test. This comes off as a little suspicious, given that SOUND VOLTEX, another BEMANI game, got announced and was given the usual pre-release routine the same month that peace was released.
  • Apex Legends is a rare intentional example. It was the studio Respawn Entertainment, not their parent company Electronic Arts, that made the decision to announce the game on the day of its release. Respawn's leadership didn't want to start a conventional marketing campaign out of fear that it could alienate their fans, mislead audiences about the final product, or place unreasonable expectations. As such, they wanted audiences to try out the game for themselves and promote it via word-of-mouth. However, after the game came out, EA did advertise in the form of a wide variety of sponsored streams.
  • After the first two Yo-kai Watch games underperformed in sales (with the second game losing out to competition from Pokémon Sun and Moon and Final Fantasy XV), Nintendo opted to largely not promote the Yo-kai Watch Blasters spinoffs and Yo-kai Watch 3 outside of web ads. The former was launched the same day as Spider-Man (PS4), and the latter launched in Europe the same day Super Smash Bros. Ultimate; and the US in the wake of Kingdom Hearts III as well as Resident Evil 2 (Remake). The games were also subject to a much smaller print run than the first two, making them hard to find outside the eShop or paying absurd prices at resale. To date, Yo-kai Watch 3 has reportedly only sold around 4,000 copies in North America.
  • The Snack World, from the same developer, was also subject to this for its English release, receiving only a handful of online trailers and no other ad forms ahead of its February 14 release date. Said release date was also in direct competition with Darksiders Genesis, the Champion Edition of Street Fighter V and the Live-Action Adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). The anime was also quietly put on Crunchyroll the same day, with the "Jara" toys not getting localized at all.
  • While Sega is known in North America for their memorable, ruthless and utterly insane ad campaign in the early 90s, they were far more guilty of this than one would expect. SEGA of America typically prioritized three things in their marketing; Licensed games, sports games, and Sonic. This came at the cost of most of their main original titles (particularly the ones from Japan) getting absolutely no advertising whatsoever.
    • The Phantasy Star series at least got a couple of print ads here and there, but in terms of TV spots, the most it ever got was an offhand mention of the original game in an ad that was far more focused on Thunder Blade.
    • Gunstar Heroes was doomed to this fate on account of a feud between Mac Senour and the guy in charge of marketing the game.note  The game received no marketing whatsoever, leaving third party magazines to pick up the slack.
    • Most Sega Saturn games went without advertising at all in the US, as SEGA of America at this point had dried up most of their funds from their rampant overspending, meaning the marketing budget was cut substantially.
    • The Sega Dreamcast was generally an improvement over the Saturn in terms of advertising in the US, but much like the Genesis, had a tendency to prioritize sports games. As SEGA of America began to lose faith in the console however, commercials came to be few and far between, and very little games got much advertising at all.
    • SEGA of America's advertising efforts dwindled significantly around the second half of The New '10s. Basically, if it's not a Sonic the Hedgehog game, advertising is limited to SEGA's social media page, limiting the attention the game will get substantially.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Forces didn't get televised ads outside of a few Japanese commercials and an American commercial collab with Chuck E. Cheese.
    • Sonic Mania only received ads online.
  • The Last Express suffered from this, despite stellar reviews, due to the whole marketing team quitting as Brøderbund was being acquired by The Learning Company (who was only interested in their educational titles, such as the Carmen Sandiego series).
  • Bleeding Edge received essentially zero advertisement outside of an E3 reveal, to the point that when it launched on March 25, 2020, many were unaware that it had even launched, and some were unaware that it even existed in the first place.
  • Style Savvy games seldom get much advertising, especially in North America.
  • CAVE's Nintendo Switch ports of Mushihime-sama, Espgaluda II, and DoDonPachi Resurrection were prominently featured on a Japanese Nintendo Direct in June 2021 and on Nintendo's Japanese social media accounts, but despite Mushihimesama and Espgaluda II getting same-day international releases they did not get any promotion from Nintendo whatsoever overseas. The most promotion the three ports got outside of Japan were on CAVE's Twitter account and on localized trailers on the YouTube channel of Live Wire, the team in charge of the CAVE ports for Switch; it's still something, but will certainly not spread very well to those not already familiar with CAVE.
  • While most of CyberConnect2's works avert this, the same cannot be said for their in-house Little Tail Bronx series, which has been cursed with this issue since the company's founding. Tail Concerto was barely given any lead up in the west where it was silently dropped on the PlayStation, and Solatorobo: Red the Hunter only got a few trailers at best with a Nintendo Power article being its only form of printed advertisement in the United States.note  They tried to correct this with Fuga: Melodies of Steel, but it wasn't enough, as news of the game's disappointing sales attracted some comments from people claiming they had no idea this game even existed.
  • Batman: Dark Tomorrow was released right as Kemco lacked funds for marketing, so outside of a comic tie-in, there was barely any promotion, only hoping positive word of mouth could boost sales. Given it was a shining case of The Problem with Licensed Games...
  • Unlike the lavish production values afforded to most games in the series, both the freely-downloadable Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 and Grand Theft Auto Advance saw barely any advertising from Rockstar Games, if at all. The only mention of London 1961 on Rockstar's website was a minuscle "FREE" link on their London 1969 minisite and nothing else, and there's not much in the way of R* actively promoting GTA Advance either, apart from a few screenshots and just one trailer showing gameplay.
  • Hi-Fi RUSH was announced and released on the same day in January 2023, though this was deliberately done because the developer and publisher both believed that the game would actually be harmed by a longer marketing cycle, and that an immediate release on Xbox Game Pass after the trailer would allow for players to instantly get their hands on the game and for positive word-of-mouth to spread.
  • The sequel to 1-2-Switch, Everybody_1-2-Switch! received a Twitter announcement without any in-game screenshots or a trailer, a month before its release. A trailer would eventually drop almost two weeks before the game's release on Nintendo's YouTube channels, but would see zero other acknowledgement. This is likely due to leaks about the title, prior to its official announcement, revealing that it was doing surprisingly poorly with test audiences and was outright disliked by staff outside of NCL.
  • NEO: The World Ends with You, the 2021 sequel to The World Ends with You (which was already overlooked by its more popular contemporaries in Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy), received no advertising during the lead up to its release. It's especially damning when it released a month after that year's E3, and had two showcases it could've been shown off at (Nintendo and Square Enix's), and yet it got nothing. Ironically, it's Square's financial report that noted that the game "underperformed", that brought more attention to the game, when that's something they could have done something about and just didn't. It's also worth noting that the advertising and promotion in Japan actually averts this, by way of merchandise and making an anime series of the first game to lead up to this game. But then the problem there is that the game just doesn't sell as well in Japan in spite of that effort. Even though the games have been well received critically, this game only sold roughly 27 000 copies note  in its opening week in Japan, so they neglected to actually market the game in the areas that it actually would sell well.
  • Goodbye Volcano High was announced at Sony's June 2020 PlayStation 5 reveal event. Following the immediate anti-LGBT backlash and the game's subsequent period of Development Hell, Sony hardly promoted the game since; the number of times they've done so can be counted on one hand. Because of this, many assumed the game had quietly been cancelled and were surprised when it finally released in late August 2023.

    Web Video 
  • Economy Watch had little advertising for its first few seasons.
  • In an odd variant, most fans of Guru Larry were not aware that he was a member of Channel Awesome until the #ChangeTheChannel scandal of March-April 2018 drew attention to it, as the site had done nothing to promote him until that point despite Larry joining the site in 2009. Nevertheless, he managed to attain a respectable fanbase through YouTube and social media alone. When the scandal struck and sparked a mass exodus of Channel Awesome's contributors, Larry deliberately chose to stay with the site till the end specifically as a form of protest against the site for not promoting him for so long.
  • In general, Nintendo does not advertise new editions of Nintendo Direct until the day before their premiere. The E3 editions are exceptions, however, as they've been an integral part of Nintendo's E3 plans since 2013.

    Western Animation 
  • For a while, [adult swim] had a bad habit of putting shows on the schedule without actually advertising them, usually to anime. Most recently, in 2008 a show (The Rising Son, a spoof of Soap Operas focusing on the life of Jesus), premiered at 5:00 in the morning without any announcement of any kind except for the title appearing on the schedule.note  It was bad enough when they moved their new anime to 5 a.m. without advertising it...
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes went through a period in its second season in which Marvel stopped sharing online previews. The show also had a surprisingly scant amount of merchandise during its run.
  • When Big City Greens released the promo for the final episodes of Season 2B, the only episode that did not get any scenes in the promo was "Chipwrecked". This was probably done to avoid spoiling the episode's dark nature, and the fact that Chip Whistler wins in the end.
  • One of its Disney XD brethren, TRON: Uprising went through worse. Credit where credit's due, Disney Channel did air a prologue episode about a month before the premiere, it was popular and highly promoted but promotion for the series evaporated about midway through the show's run, and the network (apparently fearing a following similar to the bronies) buried the show in a 12AM Sunday timeslot. There's been no concrete word on the show's fate, but considering the fact that there haven't been any new episodes for over five years, it's most likely been cancelled.
  • Nickelodeon is also infamous for this.
    • Welcome to the Wayne heavily suffered from this, along with a more than year long gap between episodes and little to no reruns.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • The series was treated horribly starting with the second season (or 'book'). Nickelodeon didn't acknowledge the show for 15 months after Comic-Con 2012. When it released news of its 2013 schedule, it only stated that Korra would be premiering later that year, but gave absolutely no estimate of when it would premier. Finally, at Comic-Con 2013, it was revealed that Book 2 would premiere in September... in a Friday Night Death Slot. Between Comic-Con and the premiere, Nickelodeon rarely aired trailers and still didn't even after the premiere. After a few episodes, the show was pushed back to 8:30 with almost no warning. After the much-anticipated Beginnings 1 and 2 aired, the show was then moved to 8 pm with the only warnings being an occasional commercial on TV, a tiny video in a corner of the show's page on Nickelodeon's site, and various TV schedule guides. The season finale premiered on midnight on a Friday night online, after a very blatant and dirty campaign by the network for viewers to "unlock" the premiere with Tumblr reblogs. Knowing that the goal would easily be reached meant they had to do no promotion for the actual airing on television for it the next week as the diehards had already watched it online.
      • Book 3 fared no better, as the only time Nick advertised it at all was the day it premiered. This was because Nickelodeon's Mexican sister network somehow managed to upload three episodes to their website well before the show was ready to air. Most networks would have just ignored it because the episodes were in Spanish and in the middle of the season/book, but Nickelodeon's at the time chaotic management panicked and threw them on the air with zero promotion and absolutely none of the traditional Comic-Con buzz-building, no matter how confined the leak and how bad the fandubbings of them were. Not helping also was Nick deciding not to stream the episodes after they aired, meaning with Nick's then-policy of "we'll never repeat anything but SpongeBob and our sitcoms", you had one shot to watch and that was it. All that wonderful non-advertising and self-piracy cut the ratings in half, and with four episodes remaining, Nick decided to shunt it off to the Internet. It streamed to various web presences, and this left the possibility of the final book never being seen at all. Good news: the fourth season was seen. Bad news: it was seen online and rushed out in October, with a pity marathon of Book Three on Nicktoons (a network not in HD for most of the country) beforehand. The last few episodes of the series also got the Nicktoons pity treatment in the same Friday night timeslot.
    • Trulli Tales and Kinderwood were not promoted before their first airings on Nick Jr. in the US.
    • Much to the dismay of the fans, Nickelodeon did not even bother promoting the third/final season of CatDog. The only way to discover new episodes is if you got up early in the morning or accidentally come across one of them during SpongeBob's Nicktoon Summer Splash. Nick did something similar to ChalkZone and The Mighty B! years later note .
    • Face's Music Party barely gets promoted, even on the 24-hour Nick Jr. channel. When the promos do air, they're usually few and far between.
    • The X's was a victim of this. Reruns were practically non-existent on the main Nickelodeon network, and it was often preempted with other shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents!. It was dropped after one season a year after it premiered and reruns were dumped on Nicktoons Network, who also preempted it with other shows.
    • Poor Zokie of Planet Ruby never even got a chance on the network, being dumped to Amazon Prime without a trailer or even an announcement of it being there.
  • Numerous shows on PBS Kids, such as Arthur, Nature Cat, Wild Kratts, Ready Jet Go!, and Peg + Cat all have been subject to this trope occasionally whenever they have a week of new episodes. Nobody ever knows about the episodes unless they check their local PBS station's website or the show's social media that promotes the episode, so ratings tank. It's justified, as PBS doesn't advertise any of their shows as they're a public television service that receives their funding through viewer donations, the government, and non-profit organizations.
    • The reason for this, outside of government funding, is because every month, PBS Kids has a 'tentpole event', and that specific event will get the lion's share of promotion while everything else gets ignored. For example, PBS didn't advertise the Nature Cat episode bomb in January 2018 because they were too busy focusing on Odd Squad: World Turned Odd.
  • Before Apple TV+ and PBS wound up getting the rights to them, ABC frequently did this to the uncut airings of the Peanuts specials, opting to promote the Edited for Syndication ones since they were usually paired with an in-house holiday special, usually related to Disney or Pixar. The only way to tell if the uncut version would be shown was if you checked TV listings or the list of holiday programming on ABC's website.
  • Fox's Animation Domination block has had a historical tendency to focus mainly on The Simpsons and Family Guy, while other shows often felt like they were being promoted out the side of the announcer's mouth.
    • In its last few seasons, King of the Hill especially got the brunt of this. In network promos for the Animation Domination lineup, the formula was to show what's happening in that week's episode of The Simpsons, then the announcer would say, "Then, after (a new) King of the Hill" over at most a few seconds of footage before immediately going over that week's Family Guy.
    • American Dad! didn't have it much better after its first couple of seasons. In its last season alongside King of the Hill, it tended to only get vague footage that didn't provide much context to the episode's plot. King of theHill ended in 2010, but American Dad kept getting this treatment until it moved to TBS.
  • The only marketing that the short Ratchet & Clank: Life of Pie received was a single tweet by the animation studio Mainframe Entertainment the day it released. Not even the official Crave Twitter account mentioned it at all when it was made available.
  • Advertising for the Disney Junior show The Chicken Squad didn't start until a few days before its premiere. Also, note that unlike many other modern Disney Junior shows, it didn't get a premature Season 2 renewal.
  • Atomic Puppet received literally zero advertising from Disney XD; in fact, the show was not even listed or mentioned on its official website in any way, shape, or form. Pretty much the only way people could find out it existed was by randomly stumbling across its lone mid-afternoon timeslot or by checking the scheduling on Disney XD's official website. Unsurprisingly, the show only lasted a single season because of this and was immediately removed from the network's lineup once its finale aired.
  • Fangbone!, which perhaps not coincidentally also aired in the exact same timeslot as Atomic Puppet, had the same miserable fate. Even worse, this was exacerbated by the fact the series was abruptly removed from the channel barely halfway through its only season to make room for Atomic Puppet and returned to the channel with zero fanfare before ending on a cliffhanger.
  • The trailer for The Prince was released the day before its premiere. This case is justified, however, as Prince Philip, another member of the Royal Family (which the series parodies), had died a few months prior.
  • After Season 8, advertising for Cyberchase became near non-existent, even on PBS stations that still air the show and its new episodes. This is especially odd, as the series has been going for 20 years now.
  • South Park (Not Suitable For Children) only had advertising consists of an unlisted trailer on YouTube, as well as posters in public spaces showing the kids with Cred. Nobody knew the special was coming out until the day before it did. This was likely intentional given the special's anti-social media stance.
  • Polly Pocket: Season 5 dropped on Prime Video early in 2023 with no announcement, with many fans unaware that it was there. The previous three seasons premiered on Netflix.

  • The major political parties in the US often run candidates for office in every partisan race, though for candidates they consider unviable, e.g. Democrats in the deeply red South and Northern Plains, Republicans in the deeply blue West and Northeast, they will often give no funding for advertising or get-out-the-vote operations, opting instead to divert resources to competitive elections. The same is true for the winning side, for example, California Governor Jerry Brown was re-elected in a landslide in 2014 despite running a "virtually nonexistent campaign". Brown's Republican opponent spent millions on advertising and campaigned heavily in the final days of the election while Brown spent almost nothing and opted to attend a class reunion at Yale the weekend before the election.
  • Netflix:
    • The company started as a DVD-by-mail service but had transitioned most of its business to streaming video by the 2010s. Back when Netflix still operated their DVD-by-mail service (which shuttered in 2023), they didn't spend a dime promoting it and even removed all mentions of its existence on their signup website. For comparison, they spent nearly $1 billion promoting their streaming content in 2016.
    • Though that sounds like a large number, it's a drop in the bucket compared to its competitors, both in moviemaking and in streaming. Disney, in particular, spends tens of billions of dollars every year in marketing, including Hulu advertising. Netflix actually almost completely avoids offline advertisement in some major metropolitan areas. Ironically, one of those areas is Los Angeles, where its production studios are located and where outdoor advertising is dominated by its competitors—Crunchyroll has more outdoor advertising in Los Angeles than Netflix. Because most of Netflix's advertising budget is online and social media, it will remain completely unseen and unnoticed by people outside of "the Netflix ecosystem" (that is, people who don't subscribe to Netflix and don't hear about Netflix programming from other people).
  • Pinball marketing is atypical: Paper flyers were given out at trade shows and other events, aimed at operators to convince them to buy the machines to put in public. Jolly Park, on the other hand, while it DID have a flyer of its own, was made when its manufacturer, Spinball SP, was failing as a business and did not have the money or resources for proper marketing. Spinball made the machines with the remaining parts and supplies it had and then died. One could also argue that this is why Capcom's time in pinball was so short, at only two years: They're quite good at selling to video game players, but they never got the hang of selling to pinball operators and went mostly unnoticed by them.
  • Huy Fong Foods, the company that produces the ubiquitous green-capped rooster logo sriracha sauce, has never spent any money on advertising. The company's founder, David Tran, created the version of sriracha sauce most consumers associate the flavor with but failed to ever trademark the name, allowing numerous food companies to manufacture their own versions of sriracha.note  Tran has stated he has no intention of ever seeking a trademark on the name, as the ubiquity of it functions as free advertising, and his company sells over $100 million of sriracha sauce every year.
  • Dog and cat foods get advertised frequently, but foods for other pets almost never get ads (especially televised ads). Most rodent, rabbit, bird, etc foods are either discussed through word-of-mouth or, at best, they have internet ads.
  • When Sanrio decided to finally release Jewelpet merchandise in the United States to numerous Sanrio Boutique stores for a limited time. They only announced it on their "Hello Kitty Blog" on April 6th, 2011 and April 8th, 2016 with no fanfare and gave the Jewelpet franchise zero advertisement to their other social media accounts and websites. In fact, the entire Jewelpet franchise is rarely acknowledged from Sanrio's American branch, possibly in fear of gaining attention with Sega's American branch.note  Sanrio's American branch did manage to have the leading characters of the franchise (Ruby, Garnet, and Sapphie) make their western debut in the 2011 Nintendo DS game "Loving life with Hello Kitty & Friends".
  • Tesla Inc. has never used paid advertising or endorsements, as CEO Elon Musk prefers to invest into research and development and let its customers advertise its vehicles via word of mouth. He dissolved what little they had of a public relations department in 2020, mainly so he didn't have to deal with PR requests at all. Perhaps following the results with Tesla, Elon Musk has adopted this strategy in general for the other businesses that he owns, with zero paid advertisements and instead using word of mouth with his personal statements and announcements as the seed.