As films and TV shows compete for our attention on ever-increasing numbers of platforms, advertising has grown more sophisticated as it seeks to grab and keep hold of its audience.

Film marketing campaigns can begin years before the film’s actual release – creating a fevered anticipation of the final product. Key to generating this buzz is the teaser poster.

So what exactly goes into making an effective teaser poster?

Recognisable visual language

In comparison with conventional film posters, teaser posters are usually very stripped back to some simple imagery and minimal text. Often, they will forgo the title, and just feature a tagline and/or a release date.

Consequently, the poster image not only needs to create intrigue, but also to communicate a clear message. If the film is part of a popular franchise, it needs to indicate that through its colour scheme and style, logo usage or featuring an iconic character in some form – such as the Toy Story 4 poster which relies on our knowing and loving the character of Woody.

Toy Story 4 teaser example

Films that cannot rely on franchise appeal will find it even more important to create a clear atmosphere or story point – for example, the ominous threat implicit in the teaser poster for Jordan Peele’s Us.

Us teaser example


As they don’t need to include a lot of information, teaser posters usually employ simple visuals with a lot of negative space. These can appear especially striking when presented next to other film posters and/or on a large scale such as a billboard or the side of a bus.

The simplicity of the image gives the audience space for their imaginations to thrive based on the small taste of the story they have been given and create an appetite for more.

If a film is hotly anticipated, it may leave out visuals altogether and just present the title, although as discussed previously, it is still important that the typography and background of the poster are firmly in line with the atmosphere promised by the film.

Incredibles II teaser example

Eye catching

For an image to tease, it must first capture our attention. Teaser posters tend to be high contrast – for example, light images on a dark background or very bright colours. A strictly limited colour palette such as that used in the ‘Frozen’ teaser that will most likely also be used in the main film poster conveys a strong visual identity for the film that will trigger recognition as people continue to see it.

Frozen II teaser poster example

Teaser posters invite us to begin our own interpretation of what’s to come and as such, include a greater degree of ambiguity than conventional film posters. They are more likely to feature objects (such as in ‘Hook’ or ‘Aladdin’) or a heavily obscured or silhouetted character.

Aladdin teaser poster example

T-t-tease me

Teaser posters continue to rise and rise in popularity. For big releases, a teaser poster is often the first of many as companies and distributors recognise their power to build and shape their audiences.

But teaser posters aren’t just for major releases. Exciting and intriguing posters and imagery are shared all the time on social media – making a viral campaign more accessible than ever for indie filmmakers too. All you need is the right vision….

If you’ve got a film project you’d like to discuss with me, feel free to drop me a line on