Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Loved the Viral Video. Hated the Movie.

All modern-day marketers covet a viral video. Because what’s a better advertisement for your goods or services than a commercial people ask to watch, and then tell their friends to watch?

Like this one, for Sony’s remake of the classic horror film “Carrie”:

Awesome, right? Everyone who writes about viral video agrees.* Even better: The clip racked up 43 million views in two weeks.

Just one problem: People liked the clip more than the movie.

“Carrie,” which came out on Friday, brought in $17 million over the weekend. That’s either well below predictions that it could do north of $30 million, or a bit below with managed mediocre expectations for a soft showing, depending on whom you listen to in Hollywood.

The notion that people might enjoy an ad more than the product it is promoting isn’t a new one. One particular problem for “Carrie,” though, is that the young audience it was targeting on YouTube is also the audience most likely to tell their friends when they don’t like something. Quite often when they’re still in the theater, via Facebook and Twitter. It’s a new unvirtuous cycle Sony boss Michael Lynton is acutely aware of.

And, sure enough, “Carrie”’s audience was young. And unimpressed with what they saw. Los Angeles Times: “56% of those in attendance were under the age of 25. Those who saw the movie assigned it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, the worst grade given to any of the weekend’s new wide releases.”

* So what if Allen Funt has seen this before? Generation YouTube has never seen Allen Funt.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik