[ENTERTAINMENT]For Movies, Good Marketing Is the Ticket

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[ENTERTAINMENT]For Movies, Good Marketing Is the Ticket

You open an e-mail from a stranger and see a mysterious picture with the message: "On Friday, Mr. Kim will be murdered. Find more about this on my Web site. From Dr. Q."

That's what some 5,000 members of a local Internet site for movie fans, nKino, actually received two weeks ago. The mail, which led with the subject "An Advance Notice of a Murder," was more than just annoying, many members complained. "It was absolutely appalling," said Shin Kyoung-ill, who works for the movie distributor Cinema People.

Switching to disaster control mode, nKino swiftly sent apologetic e-mails to its members. It read: "The e-mail was one of our marketing strategies for the film 'Igeosi Beobida' ('This Is the Law'), but somehow, we forgot to clarify that it was entertainment-based. We apologize for the unpleasant and vulgar content. Those responsible will be reprimanded."

After the death, the cure, maybe. But it successfully publicized the film, and some in the business say there's no such thing as bad publicity. Still, the negative impression lingers, and nKino and the film's producer and distributor, AFDF Korea, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition that they are having a hard time cleaning up the mess.

"The idea was designed to be an intriguing teaser ad," said Jeon Tae-seop of AFDF. "Dr. Q and his Web site appear in the film and we just wanted to make the plot more interesting by building the Web site in advance and telling people about it." To be released this winter, "This Is the Law," starring hotshot actors Kim Min-jong and Shin Eun-kyoung, is about a mysterious serial killer.

According to Mr. Jeon, stiff competition in the industry has made it hard for local filmmakers to achieve box-office success, so the mass e-mail, they thought, was a bright idea to distinguish the film from the pack.

Mr. Shin at Cinema People agreed with Mr. Jeon about the stiff competition and the need for new and novel marketing strategies. He pointed out that sending e-mails or text messages over cellular phones is becoming a common marketing tactic.

Mr. Shin, in fact, needed such an idea recently because he is in charge of the distribution of the Hollywood film "The Musketeer," which will be released soon. That train of thought led him to the subway. For one month beginning last week, a train on Seoul's No. 3 subway line will be fully decked with posters and other promotions for "The Musketeer." The agency paid 30 million won ($23,000) for the rights to attach the ads to the interiors and exteriors of the train's 10 cars. "This is the first time a company has secured exclusive rights to have advertisements on an entire subway train," Mr. Shin said. Coca-Cola tried to do the same thing recently, he explained, but was turned down because its main color, red, was thought to aggravate negative emotions, especially at the time of the 2002 World Cup.

As the local movie industry gets more developed, the filmmakers and the distribution agencies will have to be smarter, and more careful, if they really want to make a killing at box offices.



by Chun Su-jin

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