Owen Wilson and the marketing of Darjeeling Limited

darjeelingpic1.jpgThere have been a number of stories written in the last few days about Owen Wilson and how the rough times he’s going through personally are affecting the movie’s that are either coming out shortly or had planned to have a role in. I was asked for my thoughts on this issue, specifically as it relates to the marketing of The Darjeeling Limited, for a piece in Newsweek and you can read that story, complete with a quote from me, right here.

The quote that was selected was probably the best one I made in the 20 minutes or so the writer and I chatted. The larger point is that Wilson is very much tied with director Wes Anderson in terms of press coverage and fan perception. The two – along with brother Luke Wilson – have become known as such a team that what happens to one of them has ripple effects on the others. That’s what I mean when I say the removal of Wilson from the publicity mix can impact the “brand identity” of the movie. He and Anderson make up the movie’s brand image and play integral parts in its perpetuation.

I fully acknowledge that it’s a little crass to be talking about such matters when someone is going through something obviously serious. We may not know yet what the real problem is but I hope that Wilson is given the opportunity to heal both his body and his soul in the weeks and months ahead. But the reality of the situation is that he’s got movies that he was/is expected to promote and that’s going to be an issue.

LOTD: 8/30/07

  • Okay, I’ve been sitting on this one for weeks, but who else thinks it’s absolutely wacky that there’s actually a formal name for the fact that people text up a storm when they can’t smoke, like what’s gone on in the UK? I mean, “smexting?” (TB)
  • All right, all right, I’m cleaning out my RSS closet. I’ve gotta say – and I don’t live near LA at all – this entry from Thrillist LA last Friday has got to be one of the most useful looking things I’ve seen in a really long time. I mean, serious no-brainer, right? You could *totally* make this a Web 2.0 function somewhere. VC’s I’m looking for you! (TB)

LOTD: 8/29/07

  • A few months ago, my pal David noted that you couldn’t post “get crazy with the cheez whiz” on Twitter. He was right, you sure couldn’t. Turns out you still can’t. At least on its own. Combine it with other words and it works. But for some reason, Twitter doesn’t like that particular Beck lyric. Anyone else find things that Twitter gobbles up and spit back out? (TB)
  • DailyCandy is opening the doors to five Kids Local editions as of September 17. Folks in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston can get all the details they need to know about what’s hot (or not) for the little tykes. (TB)
  • Finally, a “2.0” moniker that doesn’t make me want to poke out my eyes, Lunch 2.0. (TB)
  • Ian Schafer has what I think is the best write-up of the newly announced Hulu.com (the joint NBC/News Corp. venture that’s been “unnamed video site” for six months) if for no other reason than the line, “Anywho(lu).” (CT)

The Biro signs off of WIN

Tom Biro, who welcomed me to the AdJab fold, eventually turned over the reins of that site to me and then even later on brought me on board MWW Group, has announced he’s official left the Weblogs, Inc. payroll. WIN runs sites like TVSquad, Cinematical and, before AOL ditched it, AdJab. Tom has a good (and far more mature than my write-up) perspective on things in his post so go give it a read.

Celebrities: Just like us, only better

If you’re a Cubs fan like myself than you (hopefully) accepted the fact that all the Tommy John surgeries in the world (not a reference to how many he could have, but actually did have) would not bring Kerry Wood’s arm back to what we all hoped it would be. I don’t even say “what it was” because it wasn’t healthy long enough for us to see what it was. We collectively had this belief until about 2005 that just one more trip into the operating room would bring back the pitcher we saw in 1998 striking out 20 Astros. But now we’ve largely given that up. It’s just easier and, frankly, more realistic.

But the corporate advertising world still seems to be stuck in the “It’ll all work out” phase familiar to Cubs fans, survivors huddled in the basement after nuclear wars and people who think J.J. Abrams has a plan for “Lost.” Advertisers still see a situation wherein a company or retailer faces the challenge of gaining market share or stemming sales declines and think that celebrities are the answer. Macy’s picked Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, meaning they can cash in both their “place” and “show” tickets “The Apprentice” window. Ben McConnell dissects this effort nicely. HP has tapped rocker Gwen Stefani for a new campaign, since she had that big hit “Color Cartridge #22″ and so is known as a printing industry guru. And don’t get me started on The Gap, which launches celebrity-driven campaigns with the same regularity Sisyphus pushes the boulder of the hill, and with about the same effect.

Wouldn’t it be better for companies to spend a fraction of what they are on lining up celebrities – celebrities that will endorse their competitors at the drop of a larger check – on seeing how they can build up their existing customers and empower them to spread their own word-of-mouth? They could create online communities where people talk about the brand, share their own stories and meet other like-minded people. And all this could probably done for a fraction of what Trump asked to utter a couple lines and pose for a handful of pictures.

People want to connect with each other – it’s a natural human instinct. The myth of the celebrity has been almost shattered by tabloids – both print and online – and that has taken much of their endorsement credibility with it.

Quick Takes 8/27/07

  • filmstrip.jpgNYMag’s Vulture blog points out that that the score from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil seems to be popping up in, seemingly, one out of every four trailers that’s been released recently. Sicko, Bee Movie, Wall-E and others have all used Michael Kamen’s score for some strange reason.
  • Peter points to an article talking about how movies from the Fox Faith label come under increased scrutiny by just about everyone and also get pigeon-holed by audiences, who are sometimes turned off by what otherwise might be movies they’d have seen.
  • Veteran movie marketer Brian Fox has left the agency he founded – and recently sold – to start a new movie publicity firm. The new operation will operate as a cross-national, platform agnostic shop that hopefully will build on Fox’s network of relationships to succeed.
  • Poynter and Spout have the best posts I’ve seen on the kefluffle between Roger Ebert and Disney over the use of the “thumbs” rating system, an important point not only for readers but also movie marketers anxious to play up those thumbs in their ads and related material.

LOTD: 8/27/07

  • Well, now that LOLcats can be officially designated as passe by their inclusion in the WSJ this weekend… (TB)
  • On that list of news you don’t want to see floating around the blogosphere regarding your vehicles, this item at AutoblogGreen is probably in the top two or three items, whether or not it’s 100% legit or not. That is, true believers, because you know people will try it. (TB)
  • I find it amusing to no end that one of the reasons cited by MySpace for not wanting to allow people to sell things directly from their profile is the desire to avoid “clutter.” (CT)
  • If you don’t follow the social media crowd on Twitter you might not have seen people this morning complaining about slowness on YouTube, problems with Tumblr and delays on getting Twitter updates. All those gripes have, of course, arrived delayed because of the Twitter delays, thereby slowing down the rotation of the Earth and endangering us all. (CT)