in the spotlight

Sony Confirms 'The Interview' Release; Still Playing It Safe?

Posted by Shirley Brady on December 23, 2014 07:05 PM

Sony The Interview movie still Seth Rogen James Franco

In the latest chapter in the Sony cyberhack saga, the studio has (as promised) announced that it will release The Interview theatrically on Christmas Day—initially in 200 theaters and now in more than 300 U.S. theaters.

The film had been scheduled to open in 3,000 theaters on Dec. 25, until hacktivists threatened violence against theater owners screening the film. Now those theaters, mostly art house and independent cinemas, can expect sold-out shows, begging the question: is Sony still being overly cautious in the face of cybervandalism?Continue reading...

brand challenges

Sony, Brand Perception Sinking, Will Reschedule 'The Interview' [Update]

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 22, 2014 12:09 PM

Sony The Interview Movie Poster

Update: The Sony attack was denounced at the UN today, where U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power called the situation "absurd," while PEN urges Sony to release The Interview... Sony is threatening to sue Twitter unless it shuts down a user who's sharing leaked emails via his account... North Korea was hit by an Internet outage (going "suspiciously haywire") which the U.S. has denied while a South Korea nuclear plant operator has been hacked, according to the Wall Street Journal. Earlier:

As a Saturday Night Live skit that saw Mike Myers reprise Dr. Evil only rubs in, Sony had been feeling heat from cyberhackers claiming connections to North Korea over Seth Rogen's The Interview movie, wreaking havoc that even the hackers likely didn't see coming.

In the wake of the massive cyber hack, countless embarrassing details about Sony's businesses and employees are now open to the public. President Obama criticized the company for "setting a bad precedent" by deciding to not release the film in theaters on Christmas Day, while the White House weighs how to respond on a national level.

And in its latest blow, consumer perception of the brand has fallen to its lowest level in six years, according to a new report from YouGov BrandIndex.Continue reading...

brand targets

Sony Can't Exit "The Interview" Woes as Movie Release Cancelled [Update]

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2014 11:47 AM

The Interview poster Seth Rogen James Franco

Sony has gotten itself into a bit of a fine mess by producing a film that was supposed to make people laugh while bringing in a few bucks. 

The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a TV crew sent to North Korea to assassinate the country’s leader. North Korea, not known for its sense of humor, was not a fan of the film’s concept and sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling the film an “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war.”

While diplomacy with North Korea was not the goal of the film (otherwise Dennis Rodman would have been cast), its producers surely didn’t predict that the film would end up causing the mighty Sony’s knees to quake. Last month, a hacker group busted into Sony’s global IT network and now the same crew is threatening violence against movie theaters that show the film.

Update: Sony isn’t officially pulling has officially pulled the film, with no plans to release it in theaters, on DVD, on VOD or streaming, while U.S. intelligence officials now believe North Korea was behind the cyberattack.Continue reading...

media meltdown

Sony Hack: Executives Battle to Salvage Movies, PlayStation—and Reputation

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 10, 2014 01:33 PM

Sony The Interview capitalist pigs movie poster Seth Rogen James Franco

(The following story has been updated with comment from Amazon.)

"They did it again," said Brian Strange, attorney with Strange & Carpenter, referring to the massive security breach Japanese electronics conglomerate Sony suffered on Nov. 24th—the second major security violation the company has faced in the past three years. Strange was one of the attorneys on the class action lawsuit that was filed against Sony in 2012 after 77 million members of its PlayStation Network had their personal information stolen by hackers.

Sony settled that suit in July, agreeing to give away $15 million of games and services to those affected. Now, less than six months later, a second class action suit is in the cards from employees of Sony Pictures Entertainment, with current and former employees seeing reams of personal information—including social security numbers, health insurance reimbursements and performance evaluations with salaries—exposed to the world. The data leak affected 47,000 people, including actors and contractors—not to mention Sony's reputation.Continue reading...

The Big Game

Super Bowl Ads See Celebs, Car Brands Take Center Stage

Posted by Dale Buss on January 28, 2014 05:43 PM

No industry has come to define Super Bowl advertising quite like the car business. Automakers, after all, are among the biggest US advertisers and marketers by dollar volume. According to Kantar Media, the auto sector will be the biggest advertiser at the Super Bowl for the third straight year.

“It’s the right place,” Jon Swallen, Kantar Media’s research chief, told Bloomberg. “The Super Bowl attracts a broader audience than core sports fans who are male, skews higher income and is a perfect audience for auto brands.”

While some automakers such as BMW are saving their marketing dollars for the Sochi Olympics and other platforms, at least eight auto brands are planning to use Super Bowl commercials this Sunday as a platform to help achieve their greater goals for 2014—and beyond.

Hyundai and Chrysler, according to Kantar research cited by USA Today, made the top five biggest spenders in the past five Super Bowls, along with Bud Lite and Budweiser parent Anheuser Busch InBev, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.

This year, 30-second Big Game spot on NBC costs $4 million, according to Adweek, while it has become standard practice to run pre-Game teasers (trailers, in a sense, of the Game Day spot), and viral videos promoted across YouTube, Twitter and Facebook with hashtags. One question is how much the pre-Game sneak peeks and reveals steals the thunder and surprise from in-game ads. A bigger question, for marketers' bosses, is whether watercooler buzz leads to sales.

Here's a snapshot of what auto brands are planning for Super Bowl XLVII, much of which has been revealed already by teasers and even full commercials and related cross-platform, digital and social campaigns. Watch below, and let us know your favorite so far in the comments below.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Samsung, Ford, Puma and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 28, 2014 09:23 AM

In the News

Samsung keeps lead over Apple as Chinese smartphones gain share and evidence mounts that iPhone mania wanes.

Ford posts bullish earnings as company and James Franco get a jump on GM in Super Bowl promo.

Puma outfits English soccer club in brand-renewal attempt.

AT&T sees overwhelming demand for Beats music service.

Bitcoin exec accused of money laundering.

Comcast and Charter near deal for Time Warner Cable systems.

Disney finds success with ESPN app.

Gillette promotes Sochi Olympics campaign.

Girl Scouts test gluten-free cookies.

Google sees less geeky future with new glass designs, adding VSP prescriptions.

HSBC apologizes for UK ATM snafu. 

Honda exported more vehicles from US factories than it imported from Japan last year.Continue reading...

that's entertainment

Oscar is the Word: Academy Awards Officially Rebrand Show for 2013

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 20, 2013 06:01 PM

This year, the 85th Academy Awards takes on a new name with a younger tone, "The Oscars."

"We're rebranding it," Oscars co-producer Neil Meron told The Wrap. "We're not calling it 'the 85th annual Academy Awards,' which keeps it mired somewhat in a musty way. It's called 'The Oscars.'"

Still pursuing a younger demographic despite the failure of James Franco and Anne Hathaway as co-hosts in 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences publicist Teni Melidonian said, "It is right for this show, but we could easily go back to using 'Academy Awards' next year."

"It'll be like the Grammys,” Meron added. “The Grammys don't get a number, and neither will the Oscars." The awards show hit a ratings high of 55 million in 1998, the year of Titanic, but have been on a decline ever since.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: GM, UBS, Instagram and more

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2012 09:01 AM

In the News

GM is buying back $200M shares from the U.S. government.

UBS fined $1.5 billion in growing Libor scandal.

Instagram backpedals following outcry on terms of service change enabling user images for ad purposes.

CW pulls plug on major placement platform with end of Gossip Girl.

DirecTV expands cross-platform reach.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg donates $500M to charity.

Grammys launches new social trivia game.Continue reading...

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