Friday, April 20, 2007

Is all ink, good ink????

Aqua Teen Hunger Force. For much of America those four words meant absolutely nothing. But this mishmash of syllables took on meaning to much of the country when the city of Boston was gripped in fear by what amounts to a few Lite-Brites.

I don’t need to recap the story in too much detail. You likely remember two men were arrested for placing glowing-suspicious-package ads throughout Boston as part of a guerilla marketing campaign to promote the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. The head of Cartoon Network resigned following the incident.

Well, after a media whirlwind around the event the movie was finally released in theaters this weekend. The film’s weekend box-office take was a meager $3 million, ranking it 14th overall – the film grossed $3,426 per theater. Disturbia the weekend’s top film grossed more than $22 million – $7,598 per theater.

So what does this say about the old adage that all ink in good ink? Not much.

The volume of coverage this film received due to the Boston mishap was incredible. Be honest, had you heard of Aqua Teen before the incident? What’s more, to much of the public the men arrested in the case came off as the good guys who were just doing their job. It probably didn’t hurt that they spent the entirety of a press conference discussing hair styles.

Is the media powerful? Yes. Does the amount of coverage an event earns increase its likelihood for success? Definitely. Does ink automatically translate into success? Not necessarily. Although the news coverage was a boon for the film it did not put “you-know-whats” in seats.

So what’s the take home message? Don’t rely only on media coverage alone for success. I didn’t see a single advertisement last week about the film’s release. Where was the “See what everyone’s been talking about” ad? In Cartoon Network’s defense, they were probably a little gun shy and hoped the Boston SNAFU would have generated enough buzz on its own.

It’s my position that an integrated approach, with well-done, tongue-in-cheek ads about the film’s release in combination with a few “See what all the fuss was about” stories would have helped the movie at least crack the top 10.

Best of luck to The Force. And maybe it’s a good thing the movie didn’t earn much acclaim, the film’s cult following probably appreciate it remaining just that.


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