Apathy Interrupted: How Smart Marketing Wins

By Matter

Once upon a time, a movie camera was invented. What would follow were silent movies, movies in black and white, movies in color, movies with sound, special effects and eventually even 3D movies. There would be cult classics, box office biggies, busts, rom coms and everything in-between, and there would be public relations efforts for each one. These days there seems to be a new multi-million dollar movie, hitting the box office every weekend. We see articles, reviews, advertisements, and blog posts discussing both the good and bad points to the movie.

The novelty has worn off. What used to be so special has seemingly become mundane. Today, it seems like movies’ life cycles fly by at the speed of light, hitting the box office, making millions (or not), heading straight for DVD, and becoming quickly forgotten. So how can they stand out, is PR the answer?

Innovative and creative PR – break the normal consumer experience. Disrupt the pattern. Use different methods than the overused techniques of: online, on TV, on Facebook and all of the places we expect to see them. Do something different, generate awareness in a unique way.

Recently two movies have done just that. Carrie and The Book Thief have interrupted my world, with their witty and thoughtful integration from the big screen into real life.



If you haven’t seen the viral video check it out here.

The video brings the movie to life, literally embedding the movie into the lives of those in the vicinity, in this case some seriously bewildered New Yorkers. Interacting with these people not only interrupted their typical consumer experience, but also completely shattered their sense of normality, and gained unique awareness for the movie. Watch the video and note the shocked and confused, startled and freaked out faces of those in the coffee shop. By directly involving those specific New Yorkers, and those watching the video later at home, Carrie was able to directly impact their reality by bringing the plot of the movie to life, and to create an unforgettable experience.

As is often the case with these types of viral PR, the initial exposure is far amplified by traditional media, and social media sharing. The video has been seen by over 45 million people on Youtube, and the prank has been written about in publications from The LA Times, CBS News, and The Huffington Post, to Express in the UK and more.


The Book Thief

On Wednesday October 23rd the readers of The New York Times flipped a few pages and stared in disbelief. Blank. Pages. In the middle of section A. What in the world could be going on?

Picture Courtesy of BuzzFeed

The answer: The Book Thief.

By leaving two pages of The New York Times blank, but including a URL for the movie’s website, The Book Thief interrupted the typical consumer experience. Not only did they use a non-typical channel for raising movie awareness, but they also did it in an innovative way that sparked curiosity, conversation, and created an experience. This is especially brilliant public relations because of the movie’s premise. The Book Thief is based on Markus Zusak’s novel of the same name, which follows a girl in Nazi Germany stealing books to share with others because of their scarcity. These two blank pages in The New York Times allowed the readers to experience the world inside The Book Thief.

The blank pages immediately generated conversation. It was instantaneously discussed on BuzzFeed, Deadline New York, The Huffington Post, Business Insider and more. The Book Thief was a hot topic on Twitter, with readers of The New York Times, and those who had just heard about it, discussing what they thought about the blank pages.

Imagine a world without books, imagine The New York Times without words – can’t do it? Then you didn’t read Wednesday’s paper. But I bet you have heard about it.



What can other brands learn from these examples? Doing something unusual is a great way to jumpstart coverage and awareness while giving you the opportunity to make your brand unique. Use innovative and creative PR to break the normal consumer experience.

Here are five steps to help you find that perfect PR innovation

  1. Brainstorm – list ideas that do not follow your industry norms
  2. Use a different channel – think of where consumers see your brand, now put it somewhere different
  3. Create a unique experience for your brand – an experience that involves people immediately and that can be experienced by others after the fact
  4. Stay relevant – make sure that the experience you are creating is meaningfully connected to the brand
  5. Craft materials that are easily sharable – and that people will want to share. Ask yourself – Would I share this?