Going to the Dogs
Having written ad lines and TV ads for movies, I occasionally pay attention to details of posters and when movie ads air. Something was nagging at me in the ads for Mr. Peabody & Sherman. It's the review quote that says "Critics are calling the movie, 'The Dogfather of All Comedies.'"
My first reaction was that I didn't believe any critic would actually call the movie, "The Dogfather of All Comedies." Then, driving around town a few days ago, I saw a billboard that describes the movie as "The Dogfather of All Comedies." No quotes around it, or attribution. Just something that looks like an ad line that the studio is putting on its own movie.
Now, having worked in PR, too, I know that sometimes there there are film critics who particularly like to be quoted and will happily do what they're requested by studios. Shocking, I know, but true. Mind you, I don't know if that's what happened here, but I decided to do a little checking. I still don't "know" for sure, but let's play the game, shall we?
The next time I saw the film's ad, I paused the screen to check who the quote was from. A fellow named Bill Bregoli from CBS Radio.
I went online, and the fellow happily does exist, though not seemingly working for any specific station. However, he appears to work for Westwood One, a radio syndicator partly owned by CBS, and also lists work for CBS News. So, good.
When I did a search for any reviews or text or webpages that show "Bill Bregoli" and "Dogfather" (or even "Dog Father"). I couldn't find anything. Not a single example, which is pretty rare on that big World Wide Web thing. Now, it's possible that he made the comment on a radio broadcast only. Perhaps likely even. Though usually such things get transcribed. And then get webpages.
But even still, even if the quote exists -- which I assume it does -- was it said as a fully independent quote out of thin air by Mr. Bregoli? Or something that the studio came up with and wanted a critic to use so that they could quote themselves?
On a whim, I did something else. I decided to go to the Mr. Peabody and Sherman official website. It's located here. And this is what comes up --
That's an ad line, folks. That's not a quote from a review. That's the studio and its ad agency coming up with an ad line, getting someone to use it in a piece, and quoting themselves as if someone else said it.
To be clear, I don't know for 100% certain whether the studio asked (or paid) Mr. Bregoli to use their line, or if he happened to quote the ad line on his own, and the studio thought that that was a good opportunity. But I have my guess. And I suspect you do, too. And it's not the latter.
Yes, I know this is a minor issue. But as I said, I do pay attention to such things. And (for me) such things matter. I don't expect purity in movies ads -- or anything related to Hollywood. Hey, I wrote TV ads. I wrote those ads that looked like "real people" were coming out of movie theaters and giving their supposedly-impromptu opinions, that "We Loved It!!!" But just because one doesn't expect purity from studios or critics or whoever, that doesn't mean when you're being screwed around with that you shouldn't point it out. Sometimes for the "moral outrage," but more often for the fun of it...
10/10/2014 02:31:07 am
I can clear this up for you. Studio allow certain journalist to see the film in advance. If they like the film they ask for a quote for ad usage. They do not pay for these quotes. It's a courtesy for seeing the film in advance.
10/10/2014 04:11:42 am
Andrea, thanks for the note. But I have to explain something -- I worked in movie PR for about 20 years. And I worked at Universal Studios in PR for almost a decade, where I was head writer. I handled screening and pull-quotes and know it well. I wrote ad lines for movie posters, and later as a freelancer I even wrote movie trailers and TV ads. So, it's that background behind which I wrote this article.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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