Disney Used Anonymous Online Quotes In Ads

from the as-good-as-made-up dept

You've all seen movie advertisements that include snippets of glowing quotes from critics. "Marvelous!" "Best Movie of the Year!" etc. There's been some controversy about these quotes in the past. There was an investigation into studios taking movie critic quotes completely out of context, and even a lawsuit against Sony Pictures for making up a critic and his quotes for movie ads. It appears that Disney has now been caught trying out a new tactic: using quotes from anonymous internet commenters on IMDB. These "commenters" could be, for example, Disney employees, but go under usernames like "Theedge-4" and "Mjavfc1." Apparently, that's good enough for Disney to quote them in their ads. While there's something to be said for tapping into a wider group of folks than just the big name "professional" movie critics and reviewers, this one seems pretty questionable and open to abuse -- especially given the industry's documented history of made up reviews.


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    Steve R. (profile), Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Fair Use

    So its OK for a company to steal content from the public to use it for their benefit, but it is not OK for the public to quote something a company has written under fair use?

    Associated Press

     

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      Rob M, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:12am

      Re: Fair Use

      The article states that IMDB gave Disney permission to use the comments. And according to the IMDB Terms, they have the ability to use the comments as they see fit. I give as much credit to anonymous posters as to movie critics so I can't see what the big deal is.

       

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      ConceptJunkie (profile), Oct 7th, 2008 @ 4:36pm

      Re: Fair Use

      Congratulations, I think you'll make a fine lawyer. You obviously understand how things work, at least in the U.S.

       

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    Hulser, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Anonymous versus no attribution

    I think there's something misleading, or at least very ambiguous about the headline of the original article...

    "Disney attacked for promoting The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas with blog quotes
    Disney has come under attack for promoting a film using favourable reviews from online bloggers instead of recognised film critics."

    Were the glowing quotes attributed to "Theedge-4" and "Mjavfc1" who were clearly identified as users on IMDB? If so, then not only don't I see a problem with this, but the headline is accurate (albeit wrongheaded). We may not know the legal name of "Theedge-4", however, that person does have an identity in the context of the IMDB community.

    But if by "anonymous" they really mean that the quotes appeared without any kind of attribution, then the headline is misleading. There's a big difference between using quotes from bloggers and commentors (as log as they're clearly identified as such) and using a quote without any indication of who the author is. Just because professional movie reviewers feel threatened by blogs and commenters, doesn't mean that this "threat" is wrong or worthy of attack.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:46am

    From what I can see

    Disney gave proper credit to the people who posted the comments. The movie also got positive comments from real critics so my guess would be that they were testing the waters. You know, seeing if they can get away with blog comments on a good movie before they try it on a bad one.

     

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      Hulser, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:51am

      Re: From what I can see

      Disney gave proper credit to the people who posted the comments.

      How do you know? As far as I can tell from the original article, this was never clearly spelled out. Did you see one of the actual ads?

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re: From what I can see

        I was going off of the linked article witch states:

        "The praise included "Simply stunning" from a blogger called Theedge-4, and "Please please see this film", written by Mjavfc1."

        That sounds to me like they at least put the names of the people who they were quoting. I could be mistaken, douse anyone have a link so we can see this ad?

         

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          Hulser, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: From what I can see

          "The praise included "Simply stunning" from a blogger called Theedge-4, and "Please please see this film", written by Mjavfc1."

          Perhaps I'm being too literal, but the quote above doesn't actually say that the screen names were included in the ad. Based on the fact that IMDB gave their permission to use the quote, obviously they knew the screen names of the commentors. They could have passed this information along to the people who created the add. And it could have been discovered by the author of the original article. But none of this necessarily means that this information was included in the article. Besides, how ridiculous would it looks to have those screen names in a movie ad?

           

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    hegemon13, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:47am

    Who cares?

    I don't see where this is "open to abuse," and I really don't care if they do make up reviews/reviewers. It is an advertisement for the movie. Anyone who relies on rave soundbites from an advertisement to determine the quality of a product deserves to get duped. Besides, they are quoting vague opinions, not fact, so I really don't see how it is false advertising.

    I remember the poster for "Alien Resurrection" had a rave review that said "Best 'Alien' yet!" I have a tough time believing they found ANY legitimate critic willing to say that, and I laughed when I saw the quote. No rational person chooses a movie to see based on an unattributed quote in the ad.

     

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      mslade, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Who cares?

      I'm glad you said it; saved me a bunch of typing. Is it against the law or even unethical to quote the public instead of a "professional critic"? While answering, keep in mind two things:

      1.) The line between professional critic and Joe Movie-goer is blurred by Web 2.0lolol. Netflix, IMDB, and plenty of other sites let any old person become a critic by writing their opinion and having people vote it to the top of the list.

      2.) "Professional critics" generally don't have a clue. They're so deep in the technicalities of a movie that they forget that most of us aren't professional critics and judge a movie based on whether it was entertaining or not. I almost always disagree with the general critic consensus.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:51am

    I approve of this blog article and give it two thumbs up!

     

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    Theedge-4, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:53am

    I concede that while this isn't Mike's strongest performance I would say if you read one paragraph this week it should be this one!

     

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    Mr. Blankpage, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Fictional

    Well why not use fictional critics? Most movies they squeeze out (and wipe their butts afterwards) have fictional audiences in the movie theaters too.

     

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      Lee, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 2:41pm

      Re: Fictional


      Well why not use fictional critics? Most movies they squeeze out (and wipe their butts afterwards) have fictional audiences in the movie theaters too.

      +1 insightful

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    I think it's kind of important for them to state where they got the quote from in the advertisement. I couldn't find a link to the actual Disney ad, so it's hard to tell. But if they put "Best movie ever! - Mjavfc1 anonymous user from IMDB" then that's fine but they should have to state that.

    Otherwise, it's kind of like Mazda quoting the janitor who sweeps the floors at Car and Driver magazine.

     

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    neil, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    no problem it just gives more reasons for one to pay for a trust worthy review before we go and watch. I am tired of the law getting involved in protecting every individual from every other individual.

     

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    Dosquatch, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:41am

    my two bits

    FTFA:

    "The praise included "Simply stunning" from a blogger called Theedge-4, and "Please please see this film", written by Mjavfc1 [...]

    "These online postings are unreliable. We don't know who the writers are. Anybody can make up an internet name - it could be the producer himself or one of the actors."


    A Ha. The correct response here is, "So what?"

    Presumably the opinion expressed, regardless of the screen name or the person behind it, reflects the writer's actual opinion. So what if it's the producer?

    I'm pretty certain that anybody reading the attribution, including my Grandmother who knows squat about the internet, would recognize "Pinkboy1983", "angry dude", or "Dosquatch" as something other than the person's given name and treat it with the appropriate skepticism.

    "This opinion is teh ROXXORS!! Don't miss this one!!1! --Dosquatch '08

     

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      Dosquatch, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 11:10am

      Re: my two bits

      And just for the record - and also my opinion - but I treat "professional" critics with the same skepticism. Most of them are too preoccupied with "Art" over "Watchability". This is how things like "Brokeback Mountain" are released to "critical acclaim".

      Sure, spectacular filmography, bold story, emotion, love, loss... it would be fabulous except that it's just a solid chore to actually watch it.

      Hmm. On second thought, maybe I should give even MORE credence to theedge-4.

       

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    Not that clueless, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:47am

    Unimpressed

    Does anyone believe the propaganda they put out for every new film? Seriously, what do you expect them to say? "A damned fine example of mediocrity in film making!", "If your bored and have a wad of cash you want to dump, go see this flick.", "Way better than a colonoscopy!"....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    Wait.....

    Disney is still making movies?! Dammit, why didn't someone tell me?! And on top of it all they don't SUCK?? yea right.

     

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    BlowURmindBowel, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    BEST!

    "This is clearly the best TechDirt article of the year!"
    -BlowURmindBowel

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Oct 7th, 2008 @ 11:44am

    Movie theater managers' comment

    "This movie is good but for some reason if you have a large popcorn and soda the movie will be the Film of the Year!"
    -RegencyManager3710

     

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    Jojocircusboy, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 11:53am

    you people are funny

    " I dont see how this is wrong", " theres an identity for the person on imdb so its credible like anyone else. bloggers and critics shouldnt be threatened", blah blah blah.

    the general idea is that disney employees can simply make accounts and quote their own bs, making it just some pride issue with a real blogger/critic who feel "well that means MY little wittle quote didnt have a chance to be used! grrrr".
    im not saying we should believe these "quotes" but seriously, it just shows how stupid companies are and how bad they are marketing their product.

    its just plain comedy to see

     

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    Mojo, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 3:34pm

    The problem with this is that the vast majority of people who read pull-quotes in ads assume the quotes are from major news outlets and critics. You know, professionals.

    Not that any one person's opinion is more valid than another, but if someone is on the fence about seeing a movie and sees the ad and comes away thinking, "well, if all those critics liked it maybe it's worth seeing" then Disney is intentionally misleading the public.

    They aren't doing anything necessarily illegal, but it's still a case of capitalizing on and abusing people's natural expectations.

    If they wanted to be above board about this, they would at least attribute the quotes to "IMDB member." But that would defeat the whole point of what they're trying to do.

    What it comes down to is yet another reason the studios shouldn't be surprised when people get fed up with being cheated and download movies!

     

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    John, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:00pm

    Two points

    First, if a company has to go to IMDB users to find someone who's willing to say something positive about their movie, then they have a larger problem than "stealing" quotes.

    But, again, what are movie companies supposed to do, use the quote that says "That was two hours of my life I'll never get back" or "That was a complete waste of $10".

    Second, like the other posters are saying, does anyone even believe quotes shown during commercials? From the ads for "Spider-Man 2", I could have sworn it was the greatest movie ever made. In fact, I think one quote even said it was better than "Citizen Kane", which ranks as the best movie of all-time. I was disappointed when it was just a "very good" movie and not the best movie ever made, of all time, in the history of cinema, like the commercials said it was.

     

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    Lance, Oct 10th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Ha!

    I never pay any attention to reviews that are printed on posters or included in trailers. Time and time again these have been shown to be written by company shrews. I only trust reviews from someone who has the same interests in film as I do.

     

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    Another Planet, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Disney "product"

    I wouldn't see a Disney film even if THEY paid ME.

     

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