Saturday, February 2, 2008

Viral Marketing

I was interviewing a perspective student ten days ago and asked what part of the film business most interested her and she said the viral marketing of films. I was surprised because I ask this same question to all the perspective students and usually I get answers like, editing, directing, screenwriting. Viral marketing was a first, but I was glad to know at least someone is thinking about the back end of the film production line.

A brief history of viral marketing courtesy of Wikipedia.

The term Viral Marketing was coined by a Harvard Business School professor, Jeffrey F. Rayport, in a December 1996 article for Fast Company The Virus of Marketing. [6] The term was further popularized by Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson of the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in 1997 to describe Hotmail's e-mail practice of appending advertising for itself in outgoing mail from their users.[7]

Among the first to write about viral marketing on the Internet was media critic Douglas Rushkoff in his 1994 book Media Virus. The assumption is that if such an advertisement reaches a "susceptible" user, that user will become "infected" (i.e., sign up for an account) and can then go on to infect other susceptible users. As long as each infected user sends mail to more than one susceptible user on average (i.e., the basic reproductive rate is greater than one), standard in epidemiology imply that the number of infected users will grow according to a logistic curve, whose initial segment appears exponential.

I tend to think of viral marketing as word of mouth on steroids. Generally, there is some intrigue and a twist or a catch. I can see why a young filmmaker would be interested in the viral marketing of films.

Two days after Heath Ledger died the Wall Street Journal had an article about Warner Brother's viral marketing of the new Batman film. (Ledger is the Joker.) It began a year ago on-line with a fake newspaper website called the Gotham Times. There soon came a competing website called the haha times- the Joker's version of the paper. And it went on from there. Warner Brothers has spent a mint on using Ledger in the marketing campaign, the question is what will they do now.

Other notable viral marketing campaigns for films are the insane buzz- including a great fake-documentary- around The Blair Witch Project. For my money, the marketing campaign and the fake doc. were better than the real thing. More recently there was the campaign for Cloverfield which generated huge advanced publicity.

I am glad to see young filmmakers thinking in these ways. I think the onus is on me to have the curriculum reflect these trends.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Let it Snow

I have been swamped with work and now a foot of snow. The dumb filmmaker apologizes for his absence from this page, but promises to return with all new exciting posts on viral marketing, Flashpoint Academy's production-in-action- film, The Intruder, the Red camera- which The Intruder is using- and much, much more.

I also want to thank all the people who commented on the cheating post, Chris Burritt, and Heath Ledger. I appreciate the loyal readers.

Enjoy the Super Bowl, go Pats!