Movie studios have been using testimonials to market their films for years. Most frequently, they rely on professional film critics to supply pull quotes for use in advertising. While some of these quotes are genuine, some are simply generated on demand by media hounds who just want to see his or her name on a movie poster or in a TV spot. In the industry, we disrespectfully refer to these folks as “quote whores.”
Quote whoring is big business to some, giving them attention from the studios with perks and junkets. Being in the inner circle of quote whores is kind of like being in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. There’s lots of benefits and little responsibility.
However, there’s a disturbing recent trend in Hollywood that jeopardizes the institutionalized quote whore’s well being, and it comes in the form of social media.
When a glowing review of a film by Pete Hammond or Joe Nobody on a local NBC affiliate isn’t enough to convince the younger generation to flock to a movie, the studios are seeking their whores online.
The latest example of this is the slate of TV advertisements for the upcoming party film Project X, which is loaded with dozens of tweet excerpts from real Twitter uses. To be fair, these aren’t exactly the deepest thoughts about the movie: “OMG,” “LMAO,” “DOPE,” “WHOA,” “HUGE,” “SICK” and “EPIC.” But then again, Pete Hammond didn’t offer any more depth when he declared Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides the “perfect summer movie” only a few weeks before declaring Larry Crowne the “perfect summer comedy.”
Studios going directly to the audience for validation for their films is nothing new. We’ve seen tweets show up before in advertising, and back in 2008 before the Twitter explosion, online advertising for the film Never Back Down included pull quotes from users on the IMDb message boards.
Long before Twitter was even conceptualized, Hollywood was famous for interviewing theatergoers as they left movies to get the “man on the street” angle. In some ways, this type of direct-from-consumer opinion can be more valid than your notorious quote whore (which is why the quote whores’ names are always smaller than the quotes they give).
Accessing a Twitter following is actually a shrewd play by Warner Bros. to market Project X. After all, their own @ProjectX Twitter account has less than 1500 followers (which is about a third of what @JLosNipple currently has), while the combined followers for the users quoted in the above TV spot numbers about 10,000. And if you look at their Twitter accounts, these users are pimping out the ads like crazy.
So what might appear to be a desperate grab at attention from the young and tech savvy youth who still have no idea who Paul McCartney is, might just be the best marketing effort in recent years. I guess we’ll see if it worked when the box office numbers come in this weekend.
What do you think? A desperate grab or a brilliant marketing ploy?
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