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Firewall the marketers.

A leaked Sony email demonstrates what happens when marketers hijack a film.

Last year’s massive Sony Pictures hack offered the public a fascinating look at the media conglomerate’s inner workings. Take, for example, a recently-uncovered email, in which an eager marketing executive advocates for “buzzworthy” changes to The Amazing Spider-Man sequel:

Hey Amy – just a couple of rando thoughts from 35,000 LAX-JFK:

  • A rising trend we see with Millennials are the really extreme forms of experiential exercise like Tough Mudder (a sort of filthy triathalon), the Color Run and even things like Hot Power Yoga, veganism etc. Millennials will often post “N.B.D.” on their social media after doing it , as in No Big Deal, also known as the “humble brag”…..wondering if Spidey could get into that in some way….he’s super athletic, bendy, strong, intense….and it’s all NBD to him, of course.
  • EDM (electronic dance music) is the defining music for Millennials. Wondering if there’s an EDM angle somewhere with Spidey? His movements are beautiful, would be awesome with a killer DJ behind it.
  • Snapchat just launched a “story” functionality, which is sort of “day in the life of me” told in a series of snapchats that expire after 24 hours. It has a very VIP quality about it, since invitation only. Getting invited into Spidey’s Snapchat circle would be huge, and very buzzworthy and cool.

Nick Shore, writing to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal (emphasis added). Via WikiLeaks. Hat tip to Tyler Huckabee.

Sony recruited Nick Shore (the quoted marketer) away from MTV to serve as a “chief creative strategist.” According to the Hollywood Reporter, Shore’s role at Sony focuses on “guiding the development of entertainment and marketing content targeted at both the millennial generation… and their successors, Generation Z.” For a bit more background, check out Shore’s Twitter feed; it reads like an anthology of high-fashion haikus. Some choice cuts:

Shore’s taken a beating in the blogosphere this week. Gawker (in true Gawker style) called him “some tech asshole.” A.V. Club described him as “an ordinary man bitten by a radioactive style report.”

It feels cruel to pile on; after all, Nick Shore never expected his off-the-cuff suggestions, jotted down on a transcontinental flight, to become fodder for Internet snarks. Plus, adding to Shore’s now-public embarrassment, Pascal apparently rejected his ill-advised pitch. The latest Spider-Man movie has no scene in which Peter Parker live-snapchats his extreme mud run, all scored to thumping house music.[1]

For better or worse, product placement and demo-targeting have their place in the movie-making machine. But this leaked email proves what can happen when marketers hijack a creative project. Throwaway trends and fashion appeal can quickly swamp good storytelling. Better to firewall the salespeople and marketers away from the content creators—and avoid the temptation to go tragically hip.


  1. From what I’ve heard (I didn’t watch the film), Amazing Spider-Man 2 had plenty of other problems.  ↩