Universal Sued for The Fourth Kind Viral Marketing Misfire


With all the clever viral marketing schemes being dreamed up to promote movies as of late, you’ve gotta expect that at least a few of them won’t necessarily go according to plan. Earlier this summer we heard about Fox’s weak attempt to promote I Love You, Beth Cooper during a high school valedictorian speech. This month, however, Universal may have surpassed them with an even more bone-headed move that has landed them on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

When the first trailer was released for the alien abduction thriller The Fourth Kind, it hinted that the movie was based on a true story, and that the city of Nome, Alaska had a history of UFO sightings and abductions. I remember Googling that immediately afterward and finding no evidence to back it up whatsoever. I guess Universal tried to rectify that by posting up some fake news articles about the abductions to support the movie’s back story. This might have been clever except for the fact that they used the names of real news outlets… without their permission.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that Universal has recently come to a settlement, paying $20,000 to the Alaska Press Club as compensation for “eroding confidence in the world of journalism”. Surprisingly, they were quick to agree to pay up, admitting that they were in the wrong. What do you think, did they go too far with the viral marketing for The Fourth Kind? Is it worth the effort to try and convince people that a movie really is based on a true story?

  • Rusty James

    this film’s continuing misfortunes are humorous to me. Christopher Guest should make a movie about it.

  • I couldn’t care less about the movie itself, but telling people that a reputable newspaper is printing conspiracy theories and lies should be downright illegal – and apparently it is.

    “eroding confidence in the world of journalism” = god damn right. As you said, they are bone heads. Newspapers are having a tough time nowadays as it is.

  • calm down, they only errored using a real newspaper. plenty of promotions and films use fake news outlets all the time to help “suspend disbelief”. none of you had ever heard of “The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner” before this and if it showed up on a website or in the film you would have to guess if it was real or not. how many people really would search to see if the news outlet was real. answer, like 1 in 100. they had the 20gs budgeted in their marketing already.

  • Tristram

    The real mind boggling issue is that Universal, like the sneaky fucks that they are, thought they could get away with falsifying the history of a region in Alaska. If this is not shocking to you, then I don’t know what to say.
    We’re in a day and age where information on the Internet is overtaking print. This mischievous act is akin to what publishing fake newspaper articles would have been 20 years ago.

    I suppose, if one takes a step back, there’s no knowing what Universal’s rhetoric would have been had their stunt not been discovered. Still, it begs the question whether they ever intended to reveal it as a hoax or not.

    Yet this is only proof of the most vile decadence in our society — where we must twist the truth to our will, because the creative genius has plummeted to such depths that it is inadequate to make us dream. Thank God for the few talented minds still alive.