Viral Marketing Gone Wrong?

m_886ab2e5936eede59f40a766c1211ac7Indie Horror Film Viral Marketing Campaign Freaks out Okies

Posted on 04/12/2008

In order to promote the premiere of their horror film “A Beautiful Day” at an Oklahoma film festival, a local filmmaking team posted viral videos on YouTube as part of their marketing efforts. But instead of building viewer buzz, they attracted the attention of the local authorities according to the Tulsa World.

 A trailer for the film was posted on the video-sharing site YouTube under the headline, “Warning, Muskogee, OK.” The video featured a synthesized voice saying, “People of Muskogee. Open your eyes. April 25th is a day you’ll come to remember.” Along with images of dark forests, it included the message “the end is coming.” Without context, the video came across as a possible terrorist threat, said Muskogee police spokesman Brad Holt. Muskogee school officials alerted police to the video after word spread among students. April 25 is prom night for some of the schools, which only heightened concern, Holt added.

Muskogee police contacted the FBI and began investigating with federal agents before determining it was not a threat but a film trailer. “Meant as a publicity stunt and just went bad,” Holt said. “They didn’t mention anything about a movie. It sounded like a threat.” Interestingly, there have been many recent Hollywood promotions of the web that haven’t initially mentioned the name of the film (“Cloverfield” and the recent efforts behind “Quarantine” come to mind). Doesn’t calling attention to the movie to early hurt the chance for the promo to go viral? Could it still work with a slate at the end for the film’s website? Pulling the film from the festival was a chump move. At any rate, if they don’t get the book thrown at ’em, this stunt could help them build up a fan base for the movie. You can check out the film’s Myspace page and trailer here. It’s creepy-kitschy in a DIY, “Coven” kind of way.


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