In late June there were some advance press previews of the forthcoming feature film The Sweeney. For those not familiar with this title it is a UK action thriller, based on a popular seventies TV show. Subsequently The Guardian newspaper ran a review of the movie on its website, despite the fact that it is not released in the UK until late September. This prompted some negative criticism from the distributors. Although happy to accept the free advertising that such coverage brings, they felt that a full review was detrimental whilst the teaser campaign was still under way.
Film critic Mark Kermode discussed this matter and the question of long term marketing strategies on his Kermode Uncut film blog. He suggested that extended advertising campaigns, such as the one we saw building up to the release of Prometheus, can potentially have a negative effect. The continual drip, drip of information and hype, raises expectations that often cannot be met. It can even end in the public being somewhat bored with the product by the time it becomes available. These are points that I not only agree with, but consider applicable to gaming, especially MMOs. You don’t have to be a genius to see that this factor was certainly applicable to SWTOR in 2011. Is Guild Wars 2 going to be this years example?
Advertising is no longer an esoteric art. Its subtleties and secrets are not as powerful as they use to be. Anyone who runs a website, blog or podcast can go online and find basic information about marketing. The fact is we are no longer half as impressed with the phenomena of hype as we were twenty five years ago. Companies now have to balance creating and sustaining interest in a products and overselling it. Too often it leans towards the latter. As a result I have reservations about how Turbine handles the matter of mounted combat in RoR and how MGM “sells” The Hobbit. Peter Jackson may find that taking over from Guillermo del Toro is in fact a poison chalice and his task of delivering a film that pleases all is impossible.
I cannot say with confidence what is the correct amount of advertising required to successfully launch a product to everyone’s satisfaction. However, I think we all know when we’ve had too much. Perhaps it is about time that the PR and advertising industries revised their methods. The press also has to play it’s part. According to the old adage, familiarity breeds contempt. So perhaps it is time to step away from media based hysteria as it does no one any favours in the long run. Or to put it plainer, “Shut it”, as The Sweeney would say.