Marketing Isn't Crowd Serfing.
The news that actor/musician Jared Leto broke his nose when the audience at his gig allegedly proved less than willing to hold him on high provides an exquisite metaphor for the perils of community marketing.
Some weeks ago, I wrote about the terrific Q & A session with Zack Snyder director of 300 and urged that it should be put online as quickly as possible. Well belatedly it is, but not as I'd expected. A thirty minute session has been cut to less than five and "branded" to within an inch of its life. Throwing the whole session up on YouTube unedited (save for any slanders) would have been quick, cheap and transmitted the sociability and joy of the occassion. It's still worth viewing but the vitality is gone and that's a shame.
To a lesser degree, the somewhat confusing announcement at the recent bloggers' screening of Sunshine that any subsequent blogposts should not include "real reviews" was another example of "we know best." I accept, to some extent, that the whole review process has to be co-ordinated but the implication that the attending evangelists might contemplate extreme plot revelations is a little paranoid - especially when the numerous trailers (in line with the current trend) give away so much. Moreover, people are savvy enough to avoid and vilify spoilers should they exist while knowing the denouement didn't harm the box office for Bond movies or The Passion of the Christ.
Warners and Fox Searchlight are to be applauded in the steps they're taking to provide access and materials to fans - and both movies are highly recommended - but they just need to learn to let go a little more next time because marketing around objects of sociability requires that you trust your community. As soon as you start editing the experience (be that literally or otherwise) you begin to make the sociable unsociable. The presence of the third hand is felt - like the door policy at a club or the need to log into sites before you can comment - and the relationship is altered.
Dictating to a community implies that you created it - you didn't, you just facilitated its existence and facilitation demands you should impose as few limitations as possible because that way lies ownership and a sense of belonging. The other way lies serfdom and serfs dont make great evangelists. Or surfable crowds.