Marketing a product is a normal thing, everyone does it and its obviously an expected practice. This rings true for products, companies, websites and even films.
Last year, prior to the Indie Film Festival a filmmaking company aimed to promote their film “A Beautiful Day” by using YouTube. Their placement of a viral video on YouTube was a great marketing tactic and gained popularity for the movie. However, not everyone was a fan of this viral film tactic….especially if you were in Oklahoma. Instead of generating buzz and building upon that with this film, they instead scared the people of Muskogee, Oklahoma with their tactics. The Tulsa World reported,
A trailer for the film was posted on the video-sharing site YouTube under the headline, “Warning, Muskogee, OK.” The video featured a synthesized voice saying, “People of Muskogee. Open your eyes. April 25th is a day you’ll come to remember.” Along with images of dark forests, it included the message “the end is coming.”
Without context, the video came across as a possible terrorist threat, said Muskogee police spokesman Brad Holt.
Muskogee school officials alerted police to the video after word spread among students. April 25 is prom night for some of the schools, which only heightened concern, Holt added.
Muskogee police contacted the FBI and began investigating with federal agents before determining it was not a threat but a film trailer.
“Meant as a publicity stunt and just went bad,” Holt said. “They didn’t mention anything about a movie. It sounded like a threat.”
While I don’t think that marketing in general is unethical, nor do I think that many marketing tactics are unethical…I’m slightly torn on this. I can completely understand how the people of Muskogee must have felt. Living in Oklahoma, I remember this was in fact a big deal. Yes, the filmmakers only aimed to create a buzz…and in essence they did, just not the kind they wanted.
Marketing is important as is doing what it takes to get your name or product out there, but where is the line drawn? This tactic seems tacky and I can completely understand how this was taken as a threat….what do you think, did this filmmaking company cross any lines?