Great Moments In Marketing: Disney Pulls Movie Trailer Off YouTube For Copyright Claims

from the it's-a-COMMERCIAL dept

Ah, the stories that just make you shake your head in wonder. The purpose of a movie trailer is that it’s a commercial. It’s a pure advertisement with the math being simple: the more people you get to see it, the more likely you are to get people interested in shelling out cash to see the actual film. As such, you would think that anyone would be thrilled if people are actively promoting that advertisement for you. Not at the Walt Disney company, apparently. After a trailer of the hotly-anticipated Tim Burton adaptation of Alice in Wonderland hit YouTube, Disney sent a takedown notice to pull it offline. Because heaven forbid people actually want to see the advertisement they put out.

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Companies: disney, google

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Comments on “Great Moments In Marketing: Disney Pulls Movie Trailer Off YouTube For Copyright Claims”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Disney is the company that aggressively controls the content of “the vault” of videos, putting their classic cartoons on sale for a short period of time and then buying back unsold copies to avoid flooding the market.

In the case of marketing this movie, I am sure that everything is planned, scheduled, and controlled from a to z, and they will make a ton of money off the movie. Unintended leaks are not part of the plan, and they will work to snuff them out.

Contrary to what you might think you are learning on techdirt, not everyone cares about the “viral” effects of a video, especially if it has massive negative implications for other parts of a marketing plan. Viral just seems to mean “stolen” at this point.

Disney doesn’t want it out there, it’s their right to claw it back.

dorp says:

Re: Re:

Ahh, the same AC is back. Please, do tell us about “massive negative implications for other parts of a marketing plan” associated with leaking the trailer a couple of days early. You like to talk in hypothetical generalities, yet are light on details. Tell us about the horrors of letting people know about the movie early by a day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you could learn how to quote, you might get the full meaning:

“not everyone cares about the “viral” effects of a video, especially if it has massive negative implications for other parts of a marketing plan”

notice “especially if”.

Let’s say they are planning an extensive exposure this weekend in cinemas as a featured trailer on all screens they can get. Releasing the trailer early might take away the impact of such a move.

Let’s say they are planning a “stripper” reveal, running more and more revealing trailers leading up to the movie, and this is NOT the first one in the process. Kills the process.

Let’s say they have paid big money to run the trailer at the 7th inning stretch of every baseball game this weekend, or as a long form commercial just before the NASCAR race.

Let’s say this isn’t the trailer, just one potential trailer, maybe one that doesn’t get used. Having it out there might give a message they aren’t looking to give right now.

I could go on and on. All you seem to be worried about is “give it to me FREE! and give it to me now, no matter what”. The only thing viral about that is it sounds like a sickness.

P.e.r.e.g.r.i.n.e. says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

God I am sick of people assuming that when people are upset about things like censorship, DRM and take-downs, it’s because -damn it, now they might actually have to pay for something-

I don’t know maybe you’re old… Bitter about how easy the kids have it these days… I don’t know but what ever Disney or any other big corporation wants, the internet is not controllable.

Stop trying to fight it you greedy old farts and learn to embrace it.

dorp says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I could go on and on. All you seem to be worried about is “give it to me FREE! and give it to me now, no matter what”. The only thing viral about that is it sounds like a sickness.

Put up those straw men! Fight them bravely! Feel victorious! Good boy, want a cookie?

So tell us about all these times you go out and buy movie trailers, I am sure Disney would love to know how to charge people to just watch movie trailers outside of a movie theater or not on DVD.

If something leaked out early or out of sequence, if it is of any quality, it will do just fine. A good campaign (Cloverfield comes to mind) is based on setting up enough interest both independently and as a package.

Having something come out before it’s “due” time is just as ridiculous of a defense. A lot of Superbowl ads come out or are leaked out early, yet no one complains about “diminished” return, in large part because the audience online and at Superbowl are quite different and early exposure just gets more attention from people that wouldn’t otherwise see it.

And the “wrong message” defense is hilarious. Care to provide real life examples? Quite often a trailer comes out as planned and is still not what is delivered at the end, so what? Toy Story 2 had trailers that showed things different than what the movie had, tell us how many people remember that?

But keep on going, your straw men are fun, free and you deliver them almost instantly!

Jim G. says:

Max Berry says (

“Companies have made themselves loud, intrusive parts of society . . . They spend billions of dollars to get their names on our lips and their logos in our eyes, but letting us talk about them is dangerous: we might say something they don’t like. They want what Naomi Klein calls the “one-way conversation:” to be able to speak to us—endlessly so, through billboards and television and radio and product placement in your movies and the back of your bus ticket—without allowing us to speak back. Unless, that is, we’re saying positive things about them; unless we’re “on message.” And so they seek complete control over their names, to ban us from uttering them unless it is to speak praise.”

interval says:

Re: No kidding

@Epic gilgamesh: “It is amazing how many companies dont understand the power and leverage of viral marketing.”

Amazing how many over-leverage it (or just plain f it up);

Cap'n Jack (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They play them with another big movie so that the most people possible can see the trailer. If the trailer goes up on YouTube, that means more people will see it, not less. It’s not like they only want to air the trailers in one place – that would make less people aware of the movie, not more. The whole point of a trailer is to make people want to watch your movie. Putting it on YouTube means more people will see the trailer.

That can only be a bad thing if it’s a bad trailer, and then you have bigger problems.

The ridiculous thing is that so many companies do stupid crap like this. It makes me think that they’re afraid of the conversation people have when they watch trailers, but even that doesn’t make sense, since conversation creates buzz. Something still illogical but less harmful would be for a company to upload their trailers to YouTube, but disable comments.

I’ll never understand why companies don’t just upload all their commercials on YouTube for people to watch as they please. People like commercials when they aren’t forced to watch them.

Anonymous Coward says:

The idea that a trailer is only shown during other (mediocre) movies to boost that movie’s ticket sales is absurd. The entire purpose of a trailer is to boost sales for the upcoming movie. If less people watches the trailer, less people are aware of the new movie. That would mean they wouldn’t go watch it, which in turn means less people watch the trailer shown during that one.

The idea that you go watch a trailer because you already know that movie is coming is ridiculous, since the way you’re supposed to find out is by trailers (unless you’re a Transformers fan who’s been Googleing “transformers live action movie” since the 90s waiting for it to happen).

Anonymous Coward says:

stupid licensing deals

It’s often because of bullshit licensing deals. Certain outlets get exclusivity periods on playing even the trailer, and as the owner of that IP, Disney has to enforce that exclusivity.

The guys who push these clauses are typically pre-internet dinosaurs who are still using data from when extended cable only put 2-4 channels on a major demographic at any given time. Monopolizing attention was easy then, and companies would easily pay more than the “promotional value” of letting the trailer be played everywhere… not so much anymore. It’s just a matter of time before these dinosaurs are replaced.

John (user link) says:

damned if you do

I think Disney was put in a bad position here by the folks that leaked the trailer. As a courtesy to media certain items are often sent early to allow them to prepare a story, but embargoed to a certain date or time for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps they want to launch a viral campaign on a certain date, which was the situation in this case.

Now those of us who play by the rules and hold off on posting the trailer lose trust with our readers when we say the trailer will exclusively be available at the Viral campaign and then it appears online elsewhere first. Since trust is an important currency in my fight to keep my readers from leaving to another website where they can likely get the same information, I responded to the leak by yelling at Disney. So does Disney issue take downs and attempt to rebuild the relationships that were burned because of the leak? or do they just say ‘not our problem’ which means I’m much less likely to honor any embargo they send my way in the future.

Perhaps this says more about media embargos than it does about Disney’s issuing takedowns. But I think Disney made the right call this time.

cheaplog (user link) says:

Actually, and as weird as it may sound, Disney has been *the* most open minded and in touch with internet trends Hollywood studio for years.

They gave away one one of the most expected trailers in history, the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), to some random guy on MySpace to distribute (when MySpace didn’t even have video). And of course no one could find any host to handle the load for days.

They launched the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) exclusively.. on everyone’s blog, via an embeddable player.

They were the first studio that didn’t give exclusives to anyone of the usual suspects (Yahoo! Movies, Apple Trailers, Moviefone, etc.). Instead they just distributed download links to all journalists and bloggers, a practice which Warner began imitating at some point (by giving Harry Potter trailers to fan sites first).

I could go on, and I certainly don’t have many good things to say about Disney in general. And I certainly have many things to say about the dubious practices of those that tried to profit in some way or another by leaking the trailer.

But just stop talking about things you have no idea about. The studio promised *fans* an exclusive first look via facebook pages and they just wanted to be good on their word.

schwim (profile) says:

I don't think I saw it mentioned already

Forgive me if I missed it in the comments, but:

After the initial kneejerk “oh, the MPAA hammer has gone crazy again!”, you should take this into consideration:

Youtube is host to some of the most vocal asshats and dipshits the tubes of the internets has ever seen. I’m sure that the person that posted it didn’t disallow comments, so it’s only a matter of time before you see comments to a Disney cartoon like “man, I’d give Coraline a rimjob” or “That’s a f**king stupid movie. I could do better on my Apple.”.

If I were putting out a trailer, the last place I would want it to be is on Youtube with anyone able to comment. I would have done the exact same as them until I could control the placement of it.

cheaplog (user link) says:

And as John said above, do you believe that everyone gets the trailers before Yahoo! Movies launches them, but all just stay good on their word and don’t leak them? No, they get no trailers at all and that’s why no trailer leaks.

Disney obviously asked everyone to respect the launch on facebook fan pages, and you can guess what kind of people didn’t.

Doctor Strange says:

It’s a pure advertisement with the math being simple: the more people you get to see it, the more likely you are to get people interested in shelling out cash to see the actual film.

Actually, from what I know about advertising, the math isn’t simple. It’s quite complex actually. I imagine that Disney knows something about marketing and advertising.

When Google was getting into the radio advertising business, they were quite concerned with the complexity of the problem. According to the folks I spoke to, there’s a sweet spot for radio ads: you want a person to hear a certain type of ad so-many times, over so-many hours or days, with so-much of a break in between, etc. Too little OR too much, too late OR too soon, and you miss the window of maximum effectiveness. In fact, that’s why they were hiring a lot of Ph.D.s at the time – to figure out how to automatically – and optimally – schedule ads with these constraints.

Let’s say I’m Disney and I want to show a trailer for the first time at an event, say Comic-Con. Is it really a good thing if everyone sees my trailer on the Internet in advance?

Maybe not. Exclusivity is a scarce good, as you well know. You want the people in the room to have the best possible experience – not just fans, but journalists and bloggers and other influential people who will market your wares for free. You want them to feel special. You can make people feel special (and consequently improve their opinion of you) by saying “hey guys, you are the first people in the world to see this.” You want to get their maximum excitement: although Star Wars is still a great movie even though I’ve seen it dozens of times, it doesn’t make as much as an impact now as it did the first time I saw it. You also want their limited attention. There’s a panel going on in the next room–if they’ve already seen what you’ve got to offer, why should they come to yours?

This is another instance where the naive Techdirt “More is Always Better” philosophy sounds good, but ignores the subtle realities of a complex domain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It doesn’t really matter what they do. If people are interested enough to watch, they’ll be excited about it at Comic-con or on youtube.

But no matter what Disney does, there are gains and losses. Just like piracy in general.

The process of making some fans feel special means that you have locked some fans out. That’s your tradeoff. Some fans are now pissed, some may feel special.

The questions Disney have to answer is:
1. Can we block it, practically and legally?
2. Is it financially smart to block it?

If they get those answers right, then they make more money. If they don’t, then they are spinning their wheels. I like Disney as a company. They deliver new content to Netflix instant download shortly after airing. So rather than fighting distribution, they understand the long tail.

Seriously, look at Hannah Montana. She’s freaking everywhere. TV, Movies, CDs, Concerts, T-shirts, Cereal Boxes (I haven’t seen it, but I’m sure it exists). Disney understands marketing, you saw the pirate movies didn’t you? That was a 1970’s amusement park ride.

Jack Tripper (profile) says:

Maybe they "had" to...

You know… If WD allowed YouTube to show the trailer, early or not, I would think that this “approval” would be used against them in the future when someone else started showing more and more of the movie or perhaps even the whole movie.

I would think that they are diluting their rights by allowing it.

Perhaps they realize what level of free advertising on which they are missing out but have no choice to protect their bigger asset and investment.

Everyone is assuming it’s because they are stupid and believe me, I am certainly NO FAN of theirs, but this one may actually be beyond their control.

Just saying.

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