September 1, 2014

Faux Blogs from Hollywood

When is a blog not a blog?

When it’s a faux blog. Recently, two (or more) marketing hacks from Hollywood decided to cash in on the buzz on blogs to manufacture blogs around new releases. Perhaps they created these blogs to add "authenticity" to the campaign.

In other words, if you can’t be sincere, perhaps you can fake it.

Exhibit A: A History of Violence Blog by David Cronenberg
As my friend Josh Hallett describes it, this is more of a journal than a blog. There’s no comments, no RSS, no trackback, no posting dates.

And
even though it purports to be from the mind of Cronenberg, the writing
is in the third person. Only the video clips are "from his mind." (And
he comes across as surprising mundane for someone who has directed The Fly, Scanners, and Crash. But I digress.)

Is it interesting? If you find David Cronenberg interesting, perhaps. If you like watching videos of him getting into a Porsche, perhaps. But I don’t think it’s a real blog.

The communication here is all one-way; there’s no interactivity, no way for a community to grow around this "blog." This is not a blog, but rather a photo of a blog. It also seems to me to be a missed opportunity.

Exhibit B: Miles’ Blog (Surface)
This
is a "blog" for a new show on NBC called "Surface" that I have to admit
I haven’t seen. It’s written from the perspective of Miles, apparently
a pre-pubescent character who–from what I can tell–is documenting the
care and feeding of Nim, a sea creature he’s raising.

I’m torn
on this. On one hand I see an interesting way to market a show by
having material about the show available outside the confines of a TV
set or a program schedule. It would be great to see updates during the
week that document things that haven’t been on the show, but affect or
are referenced by later events within the show. It would make this blog
(and marketing campaign) truly viral.

On the other hand, this
"blog" is completely lacking in authenticity. (No comments, trackbacks,
or RSS, either.) The writing comes across as a Harvard grad trying to
write like a over-educated 15-year old, not like the character from the
picture. (Again, having not watched the show, perhaps this character
has graduated from Harvard with classmate Doogie Howser, M.D.)

If you are going to do a character blog, why not allow at least moderated comments and trackbacks?
Maybe you could include comments from fans who are also "in character."
It would give an opportunity for a community to build around this
fledgling show, and to develop a passionate, core audience.

Ultimately, the question becomes "what is a blog?"
Is it posts that include trackbacks, comments, and RSS? Does it include
linking to other blogs? Can it be written by a character, or does it
have to be written by a real person, by that person?

Hollywood
appears to be searching for ways to leverage the popularity of blogs
into their marketing campaign. As a "business blogger" myself, I can’t
fault them for that. However, can the people who bring you sound
stages, CGI and canned laughter create an authentic blogging experience?

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