by Mike Masnick

Can Someone Explain Word Of Mouth Marketing To Hollywood?

from the might-help dept

Seriously. Is it really that hard for the folks in Hollywood to understand the benefit of word of mouth marketing? After all, this is the same crew of people who know how to blame bad word of mouth when it makes a bad movie tank. You'd think they would recognize the other side of the coin as well. Instead, they do what they always do and send out the lawyers. Here are two new examples: John has submitted the story of Paramount Pictures and TheMovieBlog. Apparently the folks at the blog have been endlessly hyping up and freely promoting the new Transformers movie. Someone at Paramount contacted the blog writer, asking him to remove a certain image from the movie, which he did. Apparently, that wasn't good enough. They then went to his hosting company and had the entire site shut down for another photo he had of a candid photo of some of the actors standing off camera (not a scene in the movie). It's not even clear that there's a copyright violation here, and yet they filed a standard takedown notice without (1) bothering to contact him (2) seeing if there was a real violation or (3) recognizing that he was helping them in promoting the film. Nice work. A similar move concerns the creator of Ren & Stimpy, who has apparently been posting short clips of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons on YouTube to get more people interested in animation. Warner Brothers, who owns the rights, has gone after YouTube for allowing these clips (again, not full videos). Warner's lawyers, obviously, see this solely as defending their rights -- but they're missing out on the the bigger picture. This is helping to promote their old works which are rarely seen any more -- at no cost to Warner Brothers. Not only does it help build up a market of people who might buy future products based on these works, but it also gets more people interested in animation and other Warner products. However, rather than recognizing the value that these fans provide in helping to promote creative works, the studios send out the lawyers. For all the whining and complaining out of Hollywood about how much damage file sharing is doing to their industry, it seems pretty clear that they're doing a lot more damage themselves in their short-sighted focus on legal attack dogs instead of any sense of long term strategy.

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  1. identicon
    Jeff, 6 Jul 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Ehhh... I just KNEW I shoulda taken that left turn at Alba quirky!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:00pm

    It's simple
    The lawyers they have don't have anything else to do but Hunt down these criminals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    freakengine, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:02pm

    It's easier to build a fence around your property than it is to try and understand the neighborhood you're in and work to become a productive part of it.

    Hollywood, much like the music industry, is simply not known for taking the more difficult path. It's too bad. They're headed toward the same fate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Jimmy Z, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:06pm

    How do all these schmucks get in charge?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Marcelo Calbucci, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Lawyers vs. Marketing

    I think we are all missing the point. This is the clear show of a disconnected company/industry wandering without a vision or a leader(s).
    Laywers are paid to do what they are doing, and I'm pretty sure they didn't consult the marketing department to know what they think about having videos on YouTube or bloggers posting pics of a movie.
    This reminds me of an old story of Sun Microsystems circa 1999 suing a company, while a Sun salesman was trying to close a deal. Fast forward 6 years later and look at Sun stocks, vision, leadership... all sunk.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:25pm

    hollywood understands

    they understand that they don't control word of mouth advertising. if they make a bad movie and market it good, the opening of the movie will generate enough revenue to survive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Yakov, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:26pm

    We're the chumps

    They ef us every which way possible. They sue our friends and relatives and they gouge us -- from what I gather the only 2 things that have drastically outpaced inflation -- gas prices and movie tickets. Yet we still come back for more, it is the trademarks of an abusive relationship, and until we learn to leave them for good, they won't change. Boycott the transformers movie. 20somethings will still go to the theaters in droves to see this movie regardless of how much we think hollywood doesn't get us -- they get us, they got the stuff and they know we won't stay away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:29pm


    Well few actors actually have degrees, and a lot seem to have some mental disorders... maybe it's in the water at the studios... make everyone think they are a better person because they get paid millions for 3 months of work pretending. My friends child pretends to be someone else for free... most of the time it's more entertaining than some of the stuff from hollywood.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Santiago, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:33pm

    You guys should make a seminar

    It would be called the Techdirt Seminar for Clueless Companies, and explain everything about the streissand effect to them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Phillip Vector, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:43pm

    Money paid to Actors

    I recall Bruce Campbells book where it states basically that for the 1 mil (or something) he got for Evil Dead 3, he actually got (after taxes, union fees, agent costs, etc) about 160,000. That's for 4 years. So he only was able to get around 40k a year.

    Granted, Bruce Campbell isn't a mega-star, but ...

    I was going to take an opposing viewpoint, but I can't on this one. Yeah. Stars are paid to much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    icepick314, 6 Jul 2006 @ 1:45pm

    word of mouth advertising

    now this news will generate even more news toward Paramount and the movie...

    whether it will have negative or positive impact, we'll have to see...

    personally, any awareness is good for business...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:02pm


    Now I wish I'd been planning to see the Transformers movie, so that I could boycott it after having read about this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Fenwick, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:09pm


    I'm glad there has been an article about this. I can't count how many times I've tried out a band's music from file-sharing, and then bought the CD. By attacking file-sharing, the industry loses money because I can't preview the music first. Sheesh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Ted Brown, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:11pm

    Copyright has rules, folks

    While it is definitely a marketing no-no for Warner Brothers to shut down clips of their cartoons on YouTube, they are legally bound to do so if they wish to retain copyright... theoretically speaking. There is no metric by which you can measure such things, but if enough different clips ended up being publicly available, it could be challenged that the copyright was no longer valid.

    True, losing the copyright would mean no more vapid, Gen-X, "edgy" remakes of Bugs Bunny and Co., but Lord knows I don't want -that- to happen...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Fen1x, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:25pm


    Some people just don't understand things, like school rules, no gum in the classroom, Why not don't stick the gum under the tables? Or No hats on campus, why not no hats inside?

    Its stupid crackheads running the country ladies and gentlemen, sensible people like you and I just don't care enough to try to make it to the top, because if we did, the world would explode because we actually have a brain in our head, you see the movies, when someone with a head on their shoulders gets somewhere important, bad things happen... xD

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    AmazonKicksMyA$$, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:29pm

    Re: finally!

    Hey Fenwick - you can always go to Amazon and preview the album before buying it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    ForkBoySpam, 6 Jul 2006 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Copyright has rules, folks

    To add to Ted's post: This act also sets precedent which is very important legally speaking. Look at the lawsuit Marvel had against NCSoft for the City of Heroes game. Sure, none of the gamers at home playing characters imitating Marvel’s copyrighted heroes hurt anything, but by allowing them to do so sets legal precedent for others to follow in regards to using the likenesses of their material. You can be “Damn the Man” all you want, the move had to be done to protect the companies interest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    dennis parrott, 6 Jul 2006 @ 3:08pm

    they don't get it -- and won't because it would vi

    the main reason i believe "Big Media" does this sort of heavy-handed crapola is because THEY WANT TO CONTROL EVERYTHING, period. If they buy off all those who review their trash, those reviews will glow and people will traipse off to the theatre, store, wherever to gllefully spend their hard-earned cash for the dreck they put out. these bozos DO NOT want you or i or anyone else they do not directly control somehow saying ANYTHING about their "art" because we might actually tell others what a pile of hot steamy cow-dung it is. even when someone who is an enthusiast is freely plugging their junk it means that they don't directly control what's being said and they just simply can't have that, now can they?

    see it's like this: by thinking about their crapola, we violate their first law of what Good Consumer should be:'ll obey me while i lead you and eat the garbage that i feed you, don't go for help, no one will heed you. your mind has been totally controlled, it has been stuffed into my mold and you will do as you are told until the rights to you are sold...

    you see, having an opinion about something violates their idea that you are a Cash Cow to be milked at will.

    and since we're all supposed to be good little cash cows and just fork over our money for their dreck, don't forget to "mooo" when you get milked.

    (god, I so miss FZ. he was a great man.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jul 2006 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Money paid to Actors

    That isn't right. After taxes and everything are considered (agents, trainers, ect) an actor brings home between 40 and 50 percent for the most part and depending on the total of expenditures.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    claire rand, 7 Jul 2006 @ 3:39am


    an idea.. ok so they go after people to protect a trademark, as they sort of have to. that i can understand.

    how about having a 'license' for this sort of thing? short clips etc. yes you have to *ask* for it, stating what you want to do etc. they grant the license (free, since its for non-commercial usage and they get some advertising off it), maybe requiring the image to be a link to one of thier pages.

    everybody wins.

    now they have *defended* their trademark since the usage is licensed right? ok its not perfect but then what is?

    or just have a range of promo clips & stills licensed for non-commercial use as a free download (or a link to a remote image/file) for bloggers to use.

    its free advertising, well for a good product. and if you allow the hosting on the media compaines servers (i'e you can linkto an image, but cannot host a local copy) if the pr gets bad, pull the links...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Derek, 7 Jul 2006 @ 8:33am


    Hollywood is so absorbed in copyright law they can't see beyond it. They have a system they won't let go of. I can't remember who it was - some big producer who wanted to release a film in the theatre, on DVD and Pay Per View all at once and Hollywood freaked. It's so ironic that an industry dependent on innovation has a bunch of short-sited decision makers at the helm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    newmanae, 9 Jul 2006 @ 7:23am


    It's all about control and precedent. The internet is still in it's infancy and established corporations have realized (rather tardily) that now is their last chance to whip it into line.
    They will spend billions on lawsuits to protect the established business model and leave us with an eviscerated, cable tv like iinternet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2006 @ 3:38am

    It's quite simple, Paramount has the movie rights to the Transformers live-action movie, and Warner Bros. possesses the copyrights to Bugs Bunny and other classic cartoons that John K. was posting through YouTube on his site.

    While one could site Fair Use guidelines, it boils down to two things. First, the respective copyright holders are allowed to decide how their properties are disseminated. Second, those posting copyrighted material, and images taken from the movie whether photographed by studio employees or not are still arguably the property of the studios. Secondly, it's all a matter of being able to afford to engage in a lawsuit if the respective copyright holders decide they don't see the Fair Use Doctrine the same way you do.

    John K. had some noble intentions when he put up clips of Bugs Bunny cartoons, wrote about how great the animation was, and even linked several sites where one can purchase the DVDs. The problem is, he likely didn't pay a licensing fee to do show that footage. Seems like he made no arrangements through Warner Bros. to put up clips for the reason being argued. You can bet that shows like Ebert and Roeper make sure they have clearance to show clips of movies they review. John K. isn't a licensed vendor that made arrangements to show this material as part of a promotion with Warner Bros.

    The guys running that movie blog site had to know they were running a risk putting up images not acquired directly through Paramount. While they meant well by promoting the movie, they were in no way entitled to publish any images taken from the set of the movie without permission.

    Shutting the movie blog site down as a result of an errant picture being posted is overkill. Especially if they made an honest effort to take down the image when contacted by Paramount.

    However, to argue that people should be able to post material, even if samples and not for profit, despite the wishes of the respective copyright-holders, demonstrates an overly developed sense of entitlement. In this case, we're talking about Warner Bros' and Paramount's material, not John K's, not the Movie Blog's, not mine, or yours. As such, they get the final say in how their material is handled.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2006 @ 9:20pm

    "they get the final say in how their material is handled."

    Says you. The rest of the world may not agree with your interpretation of reality. I say that intellectual property does not deserve legal protection. It should be protected only through the initiatives make through free agreements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    JunkieMonkey, 11 Jul 2006 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re: Copyright has rules, folks

    There's a workaround for this problem. Rather than trying to bar the "infringing" work outright, why not grant the work's creator a license to use the copyrighted material. This doesn't need a monetary component, simply an agreement.

    This way the copyright holder keeps good face, and is still able to defend their copyrighted material in the future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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