Tweets: Private Musings or Advertising Fodder?

Interesting article on Mashable about the CBS Films appropriating a tweet from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott and then publishing it as an advertisement for the film Inside Llewyn Davis in the New York Times without Scott’s knowledge.


A.O. Scott’s modified tweet, cheekily using a lyric from Dink’s Song, a folk music staple sung in the film Inside Llewyn Davis. Scott did not know that CBS Films was going to use his tweet as an ad for the film.

So, the question that goes begging here is this: when you tweet something, can anyone pick it up — modifying it, in this case — and republish it for their own gain?

Fundamentally, the Times actually has a point: newspapers republish quotes from critics every day in advertisements for movies, plays, concerts and the like. Thus, since the content of the ad did not violate the Times‘ own advertising guidelines, no one thought about it.

Until Tony Scott saw it, that is! He tweeted that, “we’ve reached a strange new place in marketing when tweets become full-page print ads.”

If anything, it’s amusing. I’m not really sure why (or if) Scott thought no one would pick up a tweet of his to run. I’ve no idea if he’s actually shocked or if he thinks it’s in incredibly poor taste. Or if anyone believes that a review in a print publication is the only thing that one writes that may be gleaned for quotes.

Back in the day, I was a savant about getting “pulls” together for ads. Rare was the time when I couldn’t find something to pull.

If the reviewer writes, “This play is an abysmal waste of John Smith’s great talent,” then is it wrong for me to pull “great talent?” My answer as a marketer is “Hell, no!” I can’t afford (generally speaking) to look that gift horse in the mouth.

Of course, the real argument in audience development circles is the role of the critic in promotion. I can argue from here to next week about how we need to get away from using critics’ pull quotes in our advertising and develop our own audience bases on the front end — and I have, many times — but I am just as human as the next guy and when some critic presents me with “This is the greatest play in the history of world theatre” should I stick to my principles and not buy an ad with that line in it?

There are principles, my friends, and then there is the need to fill the coffers. And, at that point, I do believe the argument becomes academic!

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