Yesterday, in one of the cleverer film marketing moves we’ve seen in a while, the stars of this fall’s It: Chapter 2 posted Instagram photos with spooky, partially hidden red balloons hanging out behind them. Now, further strengthening the association between these balloons and It’s Pennywise—a clown scary enough to render even a Skarsgård non-handsome—people are getting the dang things sent to them in the mail.
The red balloons, which coincide with the second It movie’s trailer release, have been floating out of boxes all over the world after being sent to various media outlets in mundane-looking packages. Once opened, a false cover slip promises that some sort of promo junk lies inside. Instead, it’s removed to reveal a pair of innocuous party decorations that, because of the long legacy established by Stephen King and Tim Curry’s gorgeously hammy menace, cause a certain segment of grown adults to feel uneasy.
In many of these posted cases, these balloons appear to have the intended effect, dutifully freaking out the box-openers. One recipient, though, displays the limits of Pennywise’s supernatural powers, showing how thin the line really is between “menacing” and “sad birthday” when clowns are involved.
Red balloons are probably the most plot-appropriate object to use for getting the It: Chapter 2 word out, considering the difficulties entailed with packaging live turtles, sewer water, or incredibly fucked-up repressed memories into priority shipping boxes. Or much bigger FedEx boxes hiding dancing gig economy clowns—and you just know those jerks would start talking through their air holes about “unions” or “hazard pay” if they were piled up together at the shipping depot.
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