'Shut Up & Sing' Harnesses MySpace, Political Blogs

The Weinstein Company is turning to consumer-generated media to promote the upcoming documentary, "Shut Up & Sing," about the controversial country singers Dixie Chicks.

For the campaign, Deep Focus created a MySpace.com page, www.myspace.com/shutupandsing, that invites users to submit video blogs and written comments about their views concerning freedom of speech; the page quietly launched late Friday. In addition, ads asking users to submit comments to the Web site also are running on about 15 high-profile political blogs, including the left-wing Atrios and right-wing RedState.com.

The comments are then screened, and if approved, are posted on the site ShutUpAndPost.com--which also offers links to the trailer, official movie site and other Dixie Chicks-related material. Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer said that comments representing all political views are accepted on the site, but that posts containing "jibberish" or threats of violence are rejected.

"Shut Up & Sing" examines the Dixie Chicks' career since March of 2003, when singer Natalie Maines, a Texas native, sparked calls for boycotts by telling a London audience: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

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As of Wednesday afternoon, about 4,000 comments had been posted to the ShutUpAndPost page, while the MySpace page for the movie--which opens nationwide next month--had garnered around 1,900 friends. While some other movies have yielded more MySpace friends, Schafer says the success of campaigns on networking sites depends more on the level of interest visitors show in the movie than sheer numbers. "You're trying to get people involved," he said. "The proof of whether or not it's effective is really whether people congregate and discuss it."

MySpace itself is becoming an increasingly important vehicle for new movie launches, Schafer said. He estimates that Deep Focus has created between 10 and 15 interactive promotions on MySpace in the last year. One, for the movie "Clerks II," promised that the first 10,000 people to add the "Mooby's Presents: Clerks II" page to their friends list would have their names added to the movie's credits. Schafer said that 10,000 people added the page in the first seven hours it was live.

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