In a master stroke of marketing genius, Sony Studios released a Red-Band trailer for the upcoming David Fincher film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. What made this so brilliant was how it was done. Take my word for it; don’t believe for a second that Sony wasn’t behind this stunt, regardless of what the bloggers, pundits and eventually what Sony will say. They owned this from Alpha to Zulu!
We have the whole story, blow by blow, including screen shots from YouTube. These screen shots reveal when this Scud launched and how huge the response was. In less than 72 hours the amount of views of the trailer on YouTube went from nothing to close to 1.5 million. Logic suggests seeing that huge an increase in views on YouTube (in such a short period of time) might not be a record but it must be close.
This intriguing tale of a 21st century digital “publicity stunt” started quite innocently. On Wednesday morning, May 25th, the ever prescient folks at Deadline.com posted that Sony had released a “red band” trailer for the movie in Sweden and France. They went on to say, “Unfortunately, it’s not online yet, only in theaters.” They closed the post by saying that “the green band version will launch next Thursday (June 2nd ) online and widely in theaters next week.”
Was Deadline.com shilling for a studio marketing department? No way? Right? Never? So it began, all it takes is one match.
That afternoon, a post appeared on the IMDB message boards about the new trailer. In this post the writer claimed to have seen the new trailer. The writer described what they saw using poor grammar and failing to put caps where they should belong. The writer throws out a new bone.
They identify the trailer was, “set to Led Zeppelin’s, “Immigrant Song” this was bound to ignite music fans interest. Twice, the writer makes reference to the fact that the trailer, “can not be shown in theaters” and “Sad that they didn’t release a trailer that would be shown in theaters this weekend though”. At a glance the post, errors and all appears to be legitimate. Where did they see the trailer?
The brush fire had started. From there, an abundance of sites started posting about the trailer. Pitchfork.com posted on May 26th reported that the song was in fact a Trent Reznor re-mix of the Led Zeppelin song sung by the “Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs” lead singer Karen O. From there the Internet “Bush Telegraph” took over and anticipation online over the seeing and hearing the new trailer was palpable. (Note: Reznor is, in fact, providing the score for the film.)
We were first alerted the trailer had found its way online in “bootleg” form on YouTube at about 1:00PM (PST) on Saturday, May 28th. The trailer was posted by someone claiming to be from Holland. The individual had never posted anything on YouTube before. As you can see by the screen shot, at that time there had only been 342 views. 24 hours later the screen shot shows the views had jumped up close to 250,000. We were well on our way to a full blown forest fire.
On Monday morning, YouTube “got wise” to the game. The screen shot shows that anyone wanting to view the video now had to be 18 years old. The overtly ambiguous notice on YouTube reads, “This content may contain material flagged by YouTube’s user community that may be inappropriate for some users.”
Well, “That Happened”! It could not have gone any better for Sony. The Big Brothers at YouTube have spoken, they declared that the, “This content may contain material… that may be inappropriate for some users”. Talk about putting out the fire with gasoline! This prompted the thing to go to a whole new level. By Monday afternoon the number of views jumped to close to 1 million. Yeah, like that “you have to be 18 years old thing” to view the trailer really made a dent in how many folks saw it. As of this morning the trailer had been viewed close to 1.5 million times.
What we are sure of, is, that when the marketing brain trust who staged this stunt look back at it they will be ecstatic. Kudos to them, they have hit the digital marketing mother lode. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds over the next week or so.
Stay tuned, we will examine what it is about how this whole remarkable exercise that points to Sony or a Sony surrogate.