Katharine Herrup, an engaging young writer with The New York Sun, has an interesting piece on an overbearing viral marketing campaign. The focus of Herrup’s piece are a series of mysterious ads that have popped up all over New York City saying things like “My mom always hated you Sarah Marshall.” They are adds for a new film called Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
“They are supposed to depict Peter’s revenge, a public smear campaign of his ex. But they sound like catty adolescent girls talking about an ostracized classmate — not an infrequent occurrence in reality.
If you are confused, you are supposed to be. The ‘Sarah Marshall’ ads are a new chapter in the viral marketing trend, which generates curiosity through vague messages. The recent film ‘Cloverfield’ rode its own clever viral marketing campaign — which included ambiguous TV commercials, cheeky product placement, and artificially-generated fan sites — to a huge opening weekend at the box office.
But the ‘Sarah Marshall’ ads eschew that clever spirit for blunt, easy impudence. These ads are toxic — not the direction viral marketing should go.”