Fascinating article in Slate today about the use of political campaign tactics to build demand for Michael Moore’s new film about health care in America, Sicko:
The Weinstein Company, Sicko’s distributor, has hired a Democratic “phone vendor” to contact a select group of potential moviegoers and encourage them to see the film. Phone vendors are usually employed by political campaigns and other interest groups to promote a candidate or a cause. But in this case, they just want you to watch a movie. They’ve already made “tens of thousands” of live calls, with another slew of “robo calls” recorded messages read by Moore himself on the way, according to the president of the firm Winning Connections. Callers target known Democratic contributors or activists in New York and Denver, where the film is being released this weekend.
Slicing and dicing political donor lists? That’s crazy talk! As in, fox crazy the calls apparently cost only 14 cents at most, and they’re aimed at lefty opinion leaders, so each successful call should have a multiplier effect. The film’s being debuted across the country in a steady roll rather than all at once, so the producers (working with Democratic consultant Chris Lehane) are hoping to build a national audience incrementally without having to resort to expensive mass-market tv ads (though I’ve seen some targeted cable ads). Campaign methods spread to commercial marketing! (Though in this case, for a product that definitely has a political edge). What’s next? Negative ads! “Reese’s Pieces they say they’re an innocent candy, but what do we REALLY know about them? As THIS footage shows, they once shared a room with an illegal alien…”