Just got off the phone with Sylvester Stallone
Seriously. Sly and I talked about his upcoming movie. OK, so it was really just Sly doing the talking… and it was a conference call with who knows how many hundreds or thousands of other people on the line, but it was interesting never the less for several reasons.
Let me begin with some background:
Yesterday, out of the blue I got a marketing email from BuzzPlant (I’ve posted it online) inviting me as a so-called “leader in the faith and family community” to join Sylvester Stalone in a live conference call in which he will talk about his upcoming movie, Rocky Balboa. It was kind of odd because it was sent to a bogus email account I had set up years ago that forwards to my main email address. It must have gotten on somebody’s list that was purchased or rented by BuzzPlant. I have a great interest in new, innovative marketing ideas, so I figured what the heck, at the very least it will be educational. Plus the email promised some free promotional stuff.
The conference call was hosted by Paul Lauer, director of marketing for Motive Entertainment. They did marketing for the Passion and Narnia movies. Jud Wilhite, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, moderated the conversation with Sylvester Stalone.
Sly talked about his motivation for doing the movie, a little about the parallels between the story and his own life, and about how the Rocky series has been a story of faith and overcoming your past. He talked a little about his own spiritual journey and wanting to have a spiritual message in this movie. It was interesting.
The obvious question, though, is: was this genuine?
Hollywood has done a 180 when it comes to Christian values in the movies. The movie studios used to scoff at Christians and Christian values and constantly push the envelope of decency. But with the tremendous success of The Passion of the Christ, Hollywood took notice. OK, so maybe it wasn’t a complete 180. It’s not as if the studio directors have all had a spiritual conversion experience and have stopped making trashy movies. But at least they are paying attention to Christian values and realize there is a large audience for values movies.
Where it gets real interesting is how this collides with the latest trends in marketing. Mass marketing is on decline. The days when you could reach the entire country by doing a TV blitz on the big 3 networks is over. Furthermore, people are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising. So marketing is going old school. It’s going back to word of mouth. I could write a whole series of articles about this trend and maybe sometime I will, but for the time being if you’re interested you can check out the book Applebee’s America by Ron Fournier, Douglas B. Sosnik, and Matthew J. Dowd
Anyways, the strategy behind this new old way of marketing is to create a buzz by giving opinion makers a sneak peek and some free stuff in the hopes that they will tell their friends, family, co-workers, or blog audience about whatever it is they’re marketing. So, that’s what this conference call was all about – creating word of mouth buzz among Christians. They even created a whole website at RockyResources.com to further propell the social marketing of the movie.
The optimist in me would like to believe that Sly is genuine about his faith (he certainly sounded genuine on the phone) and the movie studios are genuinely trying to produce movies that support and uphold my Christian values. The skeptic in me wonders if Hollywood has gone from scoffing at Christians to using us for their own financial gain. Maybe it’s a little of both.
What do you think? Post a comment and share your thoughts.