CNN anchor Anderson Cooper gave the upcoming movie The Dilemma the best plug money can't buy. On "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Cooper said he was "shocked" to see the movie's trailer in theaters.
He was shocked because the trailer opens with Vaughn cracking a gay joke. "Electric cars are gay," Vaughn says. "I mean, not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay." Here's the trailer.
Cooper said that comments like this lead to gay bullying and even teen suicide.
What Cooper's statement did, beside inspire Universal, the studio behind The Dilemma, to pull the trailer from theaters, is launch hundreds (maybe thousands) of newspaper articles and blog posts about the movie and send people to the Web looking for the taboo trailer.
Patrick Goldstein, a reporter with Tribune newspapers, referred to the flap as a "big PR hit" for Universal and The Dilemma.
Not a chance.
People offended by the crack probably wouldn't see the movie anyway. It did expose the movie to thousands (perhaps millions)--and Universal didn't have to spend an extra penny on marketing.
In a way, this is reminiscent of the Gap logo mishap. The retailer took a beating from online commenters, but ultimately the company received tons of free press. This story, which began in the blogosphere and in comment sections, made it to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Perhaps PR disasters aren't as bad as people might think.