Throw-It-Up-Against-The-Wall Video Lifts 'Carrie'
“A Telekinetic Surprise in a Coffee Shop” is hardly the most titillating title for a video but Sony Picture’s 2:23 YouTube promotion for the forthcoming remake of “Carrie” has garnered nearly 15 million views since its release on Monday.
Watch it here, and then we’ll talk.
Okay, here’s the synopsis if you’re reading this on a KayPro II: “In the video, a ‘Carrie’-like girl hurls a man up against a wall, moves tables and launches books across the room — all with her mind. Well, no,” writes Variety’s Andrew Stewart. “The promotional video actually shows how producers made all the supernatural happenings come to life, before they tape the customers’ reactions.”
Or, as Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman puts it: “It was just another day for patrons of the West Village's 'sNice Cafe, until one customer with obvious anger issues went supernaturally supernova and started hurling strangers across the room using her powers of telekinesis.”
Actually, it was just one stranger, over and over before different audiences, as well as a bunch of spring-loaded books and rigged tables and chairs, all of which is laid out in the video’s opening scenes. The video had already attracted a few hundred thousand viewers yesterday morning, “ensuring this won't be the last prank advertisers pull on consumers,” Zimmerman wrote. “Until someone pulls out a gun, that is.”
Under a Huffington Post hed that calls the video “Brilliant Marketing (And One Of The Freakiest Things Ever),” Rachel Tepper writes, “We admit it: We knew it was fake from the start, and it still gave us the willies.”
Mashable’s Annie Colbert calls the people behind the prank “twisted jokesters” in a post that has been shared more than 17,000 times on Facebook alone since yesterday.
“This is GENIUS!!” we’re told on PerezHilton.com. “…As scary this had to have been in person, the video is actually pretty HIGHlarious! We love the face of the old woman standing with her dog as she sees what's happening! LOLz!!!”
Now that’s hitting the viral jackpot!!!
Some commenters are making the timeworn Social Marketing 101 point that setting out to “make a viral video” is tantamount to making “win the Mega Millions” a key component of your business plan. But if you have enough money to buy a heap load of tickets, your odds obviously improve.
Sony Pictures isn’t putting all its marketing dollars for “Carrie” in the viral basket, of course. In fact, it “began marketing the title via social media last Halloween with the ‘Call Carrie’ initiative, an ‘activation’ that allowed people to phone the lead character (played by Chloe Moretz) and listen to one of three interactions between Carrie and her mother (played by Julianne Moore),” as Alexandra Cheney reports in the Wall Street Journal. “The studio also sponsored an online exploration of Carrie’s home titled ‘Find Carrie.’”
And there’s obviously a lot more traditional advertising and marketing rolling out before the opening late next week.
“Let's get the fine print out of the way: Yes, this YouTube video is a crafty little piece of marketing for the remake of ‘Carrie,’” Rene Lynch writes in her Los Angeles Times lede. “And some suits have no doubt been paid wads of cash to get viewers to do what we're doing right now — passing this along.”
Those wads went to Thinkmodo, the company that produced “Telekinetic Surprise.” And it would certainly beg to differ with the notion that you can’t “make viral happen” in that it bills itself as a company that “mashes-up viral fun with marketing function to create effective viral video campaigns for brands.”
Previous fun includes “Dead Man Down: Elevator Murder Experiment,” for the movie starring Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Terrance Howard. So what would you do if the elevator doors opened and you saw a guy garroting another guy on the floor? Walk away like Sgt. Schultz? Start shooting (video with your mobile device)? Whack the offender with a bouquet of flowers? Ah, the infinite variety of the human experience.
Thinkmodo has also done promos for “Limitless” and “Chronicle,” among others. And check out this 2011 mock-doc of the nude videogame party “(fake) trend” for Xwerx’ XtendPlay, which was captured by Jordan Teicher, an embedded correspondent from the New York Daily News in all its pseudo-event glory. What would Daniel Boorstin say?
Well, we know what Carrie would say: “There are other people out there who can do what I can do.”
Which is apparently true, if you have the bucks to pull it off.