If the Marketing People Would Just Do Their Jobs Right


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On March 5th the WSJ featured an article about a movie to be released titled “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” According to the director, Kevin Smith, there’s no actual porn in the movie. The story is about two friends who try to profit off an amateur attempt at producing a porn movie. I only saved the article because a quote by Mr. Smith caught my attention. The quote read:

“Smith readily acknowledges that having ‘porno’ in the title could turn off some potential viewers. “We’re just hoping that by the time the movie comes out, if the marketing people do their jobs right, it’s a word that people will kind of get over,” he says.”

Wow, at the time I thought he was quite bold to put that outcome on marketing’s back. After all the word “porno” does pack a certain image. And in fact, a follow-up article in the October 30th WSJ states the following:

“But marketing the R-rated film, to be released by the Weinstein Co. this weekend, is proving a challenge. First, the Motion Picture Association of America slapped a NC-17 rating on the film, which was only reduced to “R” after Mr. Smith appealed the decision. “

And later in the article, “Now, an array of outlets is bristling at the presence of the word ‘porno’ in the film’s title and forcing Weinstein to change its marketing plans on the fly.”

The October 30th article concludes with the following: “The public outcry has left the film’s director and distributor flabbergasted. ‘I can’t believe this is happening in the 21st century,’ says Mr. Smith. ‘When was the last time you saw a porno with the word porno in the title?’ ‘Anyone who takes the title seriously is missing the comedic aspect of the movie,’ says Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Weinstein Co. ‘This is one time I don’t want controversy… ‘Hopefully people will see the movie for what it really is.”

Whether you are producing movies or widgets, “hopeful marketing” is risky business. Sure, it’s possible that the furor over the title will help at the box office; but I know I won’t be standing in line to buy a ticket. However, I did blog about it – so does that mean the title served its purpose?

Just in case you are wondering … According to reviewer Claudia Puig from the USA Today:

“Zack and Miri leaves us wondering whether it’s supposed to be mostly a touching love story or a crude comic romp. Certainly there’s room for sweetness amid bawdy humor, but the fusion should be somewhat original, or at least believable. In trying to meld the two, it doesn’t succeed at either. It may be too sickly-sweet for audiences drawn to the idea of a ribald comedy and too explicit and foul-mouthed for those who prefer their love stories to be romantic.”

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


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