Serenity and grassroots marketing
About a week or so ago, I posted about the Joss Whedon movie Serenity as an example of how customers can effect change, when they care enough AND somebody is actually listening. The post also was my submission to this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists.
As a fan of Firefly, I have been impatiently waiting for the film that continues the story just like any other fan. And as a marketer, I have been observing the grassroots and viral marketing efforts with great interest over the past year. I’ve even done my share of fan conversions. For the uninitiated, that’s when you loan your Firefly DVDs to a “virgin.”
Shortly after I wrote my post, as we got ever closer to this Friday’s general US release, the media – both mainstream and blogosphere – effectively exploded. The LA premiere generated a great deal of press, as did the rounds of interviews director Whedon and the cast are doing to promote the movie. I won’t list it all here, but you can find most of the coverage on the site Whedonesque.
Not surprisingly, given the grassroots and viral campaigns already in play, the studio (Universal) decided to approach bloggers directly. Among the bloggers they contacted with their offer for a free advance screening provided they agreed to blog about the movie, good or bad, was the Instapundit . Definitely the way to spread the word fast..
In fact, three marketing blogs that I read on a fairly regular basis wrote about the offer, each with a slightly different take and what it means longer term. I’ve commented at all three, and won’t rehash all the discussion here, other than to recommend you read the posts, and all the comments.
As one of the commenters on the gapingvoid post pointed out, planned or merely unintended consequence, the free advanced screenings reached well beyond the fanbase.
The best post about the whole thing however was from a blog I hadn’t read before, New Persuasion (again I tip my hat to Whedonesque for the link). The author of the post Nellie Lide actually was “confirmed” for one of the blogger screenings but chose not to go because she didn’t like the way the publicity firm handled the whole thing. Reading some of the language they used in their emails, I can definitely see why bloggers might be put off by it (notably too much use of the word MUST). And perhaps the PR firm didn’t handle it as well as they could have.
But I still stand by my opinion that no one was forced to do anything. It was a choice whether to accept the terms of the offer: get into a free advance screening of a much-anticipated movie in exchange for blogging about it. Or not.
Yes, the language the PR firm used was a bit strong and controlling. But, if you didn’t like the terms, don’t accept. Nellie Lide didn’t accept. Others did. (Although I do imagine it was easier to resist if you’d already seen the film than if you hadn’t.)
We will make mistakes … all of us … as we try to integrate new media into existing models. It is inevitable. But I’d rather try something new and perhaps make a mistake than never be willing to try. For that alone, I commend the team behind the blogger screenings –they tried something new. And hopefully, they learned from whatever mistakes they made. As I hope to when I make mine.
By Friday, this will all be moot anyway, as Serenity will be in general release. According to Whedonesque this morning, tickets are now available on movietickets.com.
See you at the movies. And "aim to misbehave."
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