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?