How NOT to publicize your film on YouTube

Running a successful viral video campaign for a film can be tricky and complicated.  It requires a lot of upfront planning and the implementation of the campaign requires careful management.  Screw up, and lots of things could go wrong: no one will watch it, or maybe, if you’re really unlucky, tons of people will watch it but not understand it, resulting in your film being yanked from the festival in which it was supposed to debut, people you don’t know will send you threatening e-mails, and you’ll have the local police and the FBI on your tail.

The latter is exactly what happened to Outsiders Productions, an Oklahoma-based indie film studio, when they tried to use the “Cloverfield” approach by loading a mysterious and ominous-looking video clip onto YouTube for their latest film A Beautiful Day. The teaser freaked people out in Oklahoma, who thought it might be some kind of cryptic terrorist threat. Things quickly spiraled out of control from there.

The main problem with the video? It made no mention of the movie! The filmmakers have now been spending time explaining themselves and apologizing.  They’re also trying to find some way of turning this fiasco into something positive with their “It’s Just a Trailer” campaign.  It’ll be interesting to see how that works out.

This is a cautionary tale that teaches an important lesson in viral video publicity campaigns. Yes, the results were that the film got some publicity, but I’d bet not quite the kind of publicity the filmmakers were hoping for.

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One Response to How NOT to publicize your film on YouTube

  1. Hello,
    I am looking for a way to promote my film, “Strive For Happiness.” “Strive For Happiness” is a documentary film about the lives of those who live with or care for loved ones who suffer from the many forms of severe mental illness. The director’s hope is that this film raises awareness about the illness, removes some of the stigmas that still exist, and hopefully makes some change in policies that currently exist (funding, etc.)The film is documented by director, Richard M. Patricia as it takes a closer look at his life growing up in a household with a “loved one” that suffered from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. The interviews throughout the film reflect what his life was like growing up in a household dealing with mental illness. His hope is that this film will catch the attention of many family members throughout the country that know or lived with a loved one who suffers from mental illness. This film will also relate to anyone who cares for someone with an illness in general.

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