'Swiss Army Man' Giving Out Bongs, Beer To Promote Movie's Release

By David Konow 06/23/16

The absurd black comedy is embracing the controversy surrounding the movie by providing journalists with beer and drug paraphernalia for promotion.

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'Swiss Army Man' Giving Out Bongs, Beer To Promote Movie's Release
Photo A24/YouTube

Before a movie comes out, a wide variety of promo items are often released by the studios to fuel word-of-mouth about the movie. Marketing departments commonly send out advance posters, key chains, t-shirts, stickers, etc. The publicists for Swiss Army Man have chosen to send out promotional bongs made of rubber and bus rides with free beer to promote the controversial movie, which elicited negative reactions and some walkouts earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival

Granted, this isn’t the kind of promotion you would expect from a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster, but Swiss Army Man is anything but an average summer blockbuster. The movie tells the story of a hopeless man stranded in the wild (played by Paul Dano) who is in the act of committing suicide when he discovers a flatulent corpse laying on the shore (played by Daniel Radcliffe). The man then befriends the gaseous corpse and they go on an absurd bromantic adventure. 

Clearly, a movie this unique could use a different kind of promotion, so when the bong arrived at the offices of The Wrap, reporter Tim Molloy joked that the movie’s publicists get “points for creativity. Most people just send press kits with DVDs. It’s super hard to smoke from those, though they’re great for cutting cocaine on. Or so we’re told.” 

This is actually not the first time drug-related promo items have been created. As the Phoenix New Times reports, the metal band Sacred Reich made bongs with the band’s logo to promote their fourth album.

Back in the seventies, rock guitarist Pat Travers also had a coke mirror promo item, with fake lines of the Peruvian marching powder painted right onto the glass, which every so often pops up on eBay. (Travers was famous for the hard rock anthem, Snortin’ Whisky, Drinkin’ Cocaine, which is featured in the film Sideways.) Though, given the high-flying days of the record business, it's no surprise that labels were actually sending out coke mirrors as a promo item.

Not surprisingly, Swiss Army Man has gotten a mixed critical reaction so far, with Time feeling it’s a “self-conscious black comedy,” while the geek-friendly site Collider called it, “wonderfully unique.”

Swiss Army Man opens nationwide on July 1. Check out the trailer below:

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.