I was forwarded this article from The Huffington Post in hopes that I would use it to promote the Jason Staitham The Bank Job, which is now playing in theaters. That’s fine – I get requests to market movies all the time, and The Bank Job was the best reviewed film of last weekend.
But here’s the catch. This article, which is actually a blog post written by Logan Nakyanzi Pollard, is about Eliot Spitzer, the governor of New York who just resigned today following the accusations (which sound 100% true) that he repeatedly paid upwards of $5,000 at a time to have sex with call girls. The latest report is that Spitzer spent $80,000 over a period of time for these prostitutes, presumably paying that much to maintain confidentiality (why else would you spend $5,000 on a single prostitute?).
How does this relate to The Bank Job, a slick, fast-paced heist film? The plot of The Bank Job is about a group of robbers who break into a bank to steal photos of important people having sex with prostitutes – the intent being that they can blackmail these important people for more money. I haven’t seen the movie, so if that summary isn’t completely true than forgive me, but that’s the gist of the movie.
Now, the fact that those responsible for marketing The Bank Job is using this Huffington Post blog post to market their film is raising some eyebrows. There’s been some negative reaction to this marketing approach, but I have to say I’m rather impressed. As an Internet Marketing person myself, I think it’s only fair that they try to market this film anyway they can, especially if they can play off the biggest story of the week. Those who call this tactic “disgusting” should ask themselves: “Who does this hurt?”
- Does marketing The Bank Job in relations to Eliot Spitzer hurt the movie? How can it?
- Does it hurt Eliot Spitzer? I think he has bigger fish to fry.
- Will it help a movie that has received good reviews but not much audience attention get a few more box office dollars? Yes. I’ve already seen the movie mentioned in a non-marketing way in relation to the Spitzer story.
So, to me, it seems like this marketing tactic helps the movie and doesn’t hurt Spitzer. Is there an ethical element to it, regardless of whether it actually hurts anyone? Perhaps. But is it really unethical to try to capitalize on national headlines to market your product? In fact, I think it would be bad if a marketing person didn’t try to take advantage of headlines. Controversy rarely hurts the movie industry, and so the marketing team should always be looking at ways to get free press.
Whether the tie-in between The Bank Job and the Eliot Spitzer story takes off is any man’s guess, but I’ve started the discussion here; I’d like to see other marketing blogs and movie blogs take it up and provide their opinions.