Venom and Vigour
Horton: This entire jungle is a house of death! – from Horton Hears a Who!
I recently had a chat with the feature editor of The Express (Agneta Accasia) and Bobbie McBourbon (who edits the movie pages) in terms of content related to Nu Tube. What alarmed me about our discussion was their admission that they, in favour of editorial independence, are not required to promote TREACLE (as was the case with Morton), even when offered content - unbiased and genuinely expressed - that does effectively endorse and support a good product. I feel they ought to be required/or at least make the effort to support our group products wherever possible. I don't believe we can afford not to do this.
What was of concern to me recently was the failure to actually support a Nu Tube product, despite my efforts to communicate about the Geoff Woolf interview etc. As you know the movie was screened in the building, BullshitBroadcasting were present, and in the end McBourbon, who had not even watched the film, selected this disparaging review from the New Dork Chimes and published it in The Express:
What distinguishes “Morton Hears a Humbug is that it is not one of the worst movies ever made. That’s faint praise, I know, and I’m even willing to go a bit further. Any human being who goes to watch this infantile garbage deserves to have their head examined. Sure, the colors are nice, the plot intelligent, but this is animation. It’s not real. Current Film Fashion is REALITY, and animation is just too FUN FUN FUN! Animators ought to be herded and shot – now that would make a great flick.
This cynism is in the face of the fact that morton topped the US and SA box office:
Personally I am appalled at the lack of involvement from our own brands and the flagrant disregard for one of our own products (one that is currently being promoted via Blue Sea Studios/Fox on our online competition pages), and that McBourbon did not even bother himself either to meet with Geoff, or to watch the movie himself.
While this oversight on its own may appear insignificant, one needs to note that this is actually a BIG movie. Number 1 in SA and the USA.. Isn't this an incredibly self-defeating counter-productive psychology for our company? Are we trying to shoot ourselves in the foot?
In line with the new initiative to develop separate and unique brand identity (for Black Sweater and The Express) I would also advocate that where possible, we prefer to use local written reviews over international high-brow reviewers in cases that do not really represent the conventional wisdom, as is apparent in this case, and where possible find an intelligent review that tends to be supportive of our product offering rather than material that is unnecessarily and cynically critical. I personally feel the relevance of the Morton movie (consideration for Others) to all that is happening in the SA context cannot be overemphasised. Hence my frustration with the editorial license applied here, and the lack of support given to this particular product.
I also wonder why the Black Sweater and The Express movie pages are so under-developed? I have made recommendations, but thus far, for the Black Sweater especially, there is no dedicated section for movies. The Devil also expressed her reservations about publishing reviews (she cited bad experiences in the past). This ought, in my opinion, to be revisited.
My suggestion is that this be escalated to a high level in order for management to insure that these sensible recommendations be implemented as a consistent editorial approach.
Please keep me in the loop with whatever developments occur as a result of this communications, as I would like to follow-up if this gets snagged at any point.
That done, I stretch my legs. Time to visit the Men’s Room.
“Ummm…Nick. I need to talk to you.”
“In a moment, I need to…er…go somewhere urgently.”
“It can wait.”
I feel a stabbing pain in my bladder.
“It definitely can’t wait.”
I am standing at the urinal, about to take a deep breath when Bobbie enters. He is as thin as a reed, and the gust from the door closing appears to blow him to the urinal right beside mine. I feel a rush of anger, and I can feel my ears throb. The only problem is my scrotum clenches, and the tap just won’t open.
This is a first.
“HA HA HA HA…”
Bobbie glances down at me, and sniggers, then starts writing the first paragraph of his next review with urine spray. I’m vaguely aware of Cyrillic and even Kunstler fonts curling around the white face of the urinal. After urinating 4 cups of coffee, he washes his hands, manicures a nail briefly, dabs at his shoes and then strides out the door. BANG! I take a few breaths and slowly my scrotum unhooks, like a bat hanging upside down in the batcave. After a few more desperate seconds, relief.
When I arrive at my desk, The Devil is gone but a mouse is writhing on its back under her chair, its guts erupt as in a small explosion out of the white fur. It’s red and gross, and reminds me of a Peromyscus maniculatus version of ALIEN.
Then, at 12:13
Thanks very much for your e-mail.
Doing publicity for films is an uphill (and often thankless!) task at the best of times. We try make our films as attractive and accessible as possible but often are faced with apathy from many media outlets. Its refreshing for someone outside of our business to see the obstacles we face!!! Unlike many other countries, SA journalists don't seem to perceive the value of the content we provide for free and I'm not sure how to change this perception. We - in most instances - work really well with Bobbiet and haven't had any issues in the past. It's disappointing to note that they don't lean more toward supporting sister company products but I don't have any suggestions how this can be resolved. I definitely agree that the TREACLE brands need to be using local reviews and interviews wherever possible though. There is more than enough access to films prior to release and we're always happy to set up something specific if needs be. We're also always looking to add media promotions and exclusive content to editorial support of a film in order to make it more attractive to the public (and it creates a measurable element to our campaigns) which I don't think we explore as much as we should be.
We had a great working relationship with Black Sweater in the past when Hummer Noname was their reviewer. We ran great media promotions with them, set up interviews, supplied exclusive materials etc. but when she left the relationship fell by the wayside. We've tried regularly to try revive the relationship but with no success
I'm happy to escalate this wherever I can, If you have any suggestions please do let me know. I'm more than happy to meet with the relevant parties to see what we can do and really appreciate your input!!
NU Tube - South Africa
Sometime after a R45 lunch (I am too buggered to argue about the pricing of my salad and bottle of water), this email arrives.
Meeting today, 3PM
Due to urgent issues that have been raised, I have set up a meeting with the MD of the Sunday Express, Goosen Dahlia, and your line manager, The Devil. I will also be in attendance.
Tweetie (from HR)
Ps. If you do not attend you are likely to burn in hell. If you do attend, please douse yourself in petrol beforehand. (Please find jerry can attached).