Design Feature Series: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Custom Mailer for Netflix




October 25, 2021


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After our first custom mailer with Netflix for the release of Dick Johnson is Dead, they tapped us to design and produce mailers for more exciting titles. So you can get in on the action too, we’re going to be adding to our Design Feature Series as the weeks go on, featuring some of the exciting projects we’ve been working on with our valued Savvy clients! 

Next up, Netflix asked us to create a mailer to promote their film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – – Custom Mailer by Savy Events

The Story & Inspiration

This incredible film is an adaptation of August Wilson’s stage play of the same name and starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Bosman. The story explores the history of white producers and their historic exploitation of Black musicians by featuring the experience of legendary blues singer, Ma Rainey, who rose to fame in the 1920s.

As it was Bosman’s last starring role before his tragic death, Netflix really wanted to celebrate the film and his legacy. We were granted a screener to view the film before its release so we could begin ideating concepts for the mailer. 

After watching, fully inspired and moved, we got to work!

The Design Process

For this mailer, we were tasked with being creative (our specialty) and sticking to mostly food and drink items. We took inspiration from the opening scene in the film where Viola Davis’ character, Ma Rainey, was captivated by a rowdy crowd in a 1920s jazz club. 

The first piece in the mailer was a custom hardcover folio modeled after a jazz club cocktail menu. Recipients opened the menu to find the film’s marketing material and an UberEats gift card, so the recipients could enjoy dinner and a movie at home! Included in the faux menu was a card outlining the best local and Black-owned restaurants for delivery so recipients didn’t have to think about a thing, and could just sit back and enjoy. The design of the marketing cards was inspired by the beautiful damask gowns Ma Rainey wears in the film. But that wasn’t all! 

We of course had to include mini glass bottles of Coca-Cola as it was Ma’s go-to drink! Recipients were also treated to a set of elegant custom etched leather coasters, as well as a leather flask to harken back to the speakeasy vibe of the prohibition era featured in the film. Each piece was fitted snugly into custom-cut foam inserts, covered in a purple velvet which was inspired by the velvet curtains of Detroit Jazz clubs. The box itself is a sleek black box with a gold foil title treatment to add a little jazz to the exterior. 

Being a part of bringing this important story and era of history to life was an honor. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s a must-watch.

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