Monday, September 18, 2006

When all that buzz turns into zzzz

There's a crow feather between my teeth, folks. You'll recall I blogged on the Last Kiss Movie Soundtrack a bit ago. Via Zach Braff (of whom I'm a fan), MySpace blew up with all things Last Kiss. Frequent posts to from Braff to his "friend" list. Last Kiss premier video. Last Kiss Podcasts on iTunes. Last Kiss Video updates. Blog posts from Braff. Frequent communication on the soundtrack from many of the movie's great artists. I couldn't go one day - or hour, it seemed - without having my MySpace world rocked by The Last Kiss. Which I was fine with. It seemed like an incredible movie. The "community" that was created encompassed actors and musicians I enjoy. The edited trailers/video diaries/website met the perception created. In fact, if the movie was a quarter as good as the soundtrack, I'd be lauding it here, now. The problem? It sucked. It tanked. It disappointed. It verbed all bad things.

I have a lot of respect for Braff and his skills. He's an excellent actor, and a better marketer. He (and/or his people) have mastered building relationships in the blogosphere and through social networks. Until this point - until I lost my trust in his communication - I appreciated (as a fan and marketer) the way he utilized new communications and built his community. His influence can be seen in the cult following of Scrubs. In the amazing reception and continued chatter surrounding Garden State and in his keen ear for choosing music and launching musicians' careers. I give him all of that. Unfortunately, my analysis of this movie's promotion - and his key role in that promotion - changed drastically before and after the movie.

Before: more from Braff, a thought-leader and creative mind I respect...he's super pumped, therefore I'm super pumped.
After: the promotion was designed to get people to the first weekend screening because you sure as heck can't rely on the movie to carry buzz. And please give me back the 18 bucks. My date (who was wonderfully forgiving of my bad choice in movies) and I could have had a couple more glasses of wine, or maybe played putt-putt. Either would have been more entertaining.

The movie relied heavily on - and executed well - two vehicles for communication: iTunes and MySpace. They did everything right, except provide a worthy ending (product).

I'm sad that this didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. I looked forward to blogging on the movie's success. Unfortunately, this is a perfect example of the difference between marketing because you have a unique, relevant product and marketing because the bottom line - and maybe your career - depend on it. It's the difference between creating a window and a smoke screen.

We "new communication" marketers blog a lot on the origin of buzz. Buzz that's organic vs. buzz that's part of a seedy marketing plan. We applaud viral efforts and curse manufactured web spam. If I were to teach a class on marketing, I'd bring two videos to the first lecture to illustrate the different kinds of buzz.

Successful product (Garden State) + social networks EQUALS organic, good buzz.
Social network(ing) + buzz DOES NOT EQUAL a successful product (The Last Kiss).

The "buzz" that surrounded the release of this movie was not caused by social networks (people) but by social networking (person). And therein lies the problem.

Spend your money on the soundtrack. Or the Garden State DVD. Or the Garden State soundtrack. Or a couple more glasses of wine for you and your date.


Blogger Sara said...

Too bad it’s not good. I was planning on waiting for DVD, and now I’m not sure I”ll even do that. I greatly disliked “Garden State.” I found it disingenuous (e.g., Natalie Portman sucks at acting but is pretty). Both soundtracks are excellent, though. I’m still not sick of GC, two years later.

As an independent, I respected Braff for his quirky ways and attractive nerdiness. Now it just seems played out. It’s unfortunate when a unique actor/director/writer/musician/artist is shoved down our throats and can’t live up to the hype.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Kate Shaw said...

I'm sorry you did not like the movie. I loved it on many levels. I enjoyed the reality of it all and the for me, the good music was an added bonus. Garden State was different, but great for other reasons - I think so many made the mistake of comparing the two flicks and counting on The Last Kiss to be so similar. Rent it again and maybe you'll change your mind...

11:55 AM  

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