Skip to comments.Fox faces anger over Tom Cruise voicemail ads
Posted on 12/04/2002 10:47:44 AM PST by GeneD
Rupert Murdoch's Twentieth Century Fox is facing a furious backlash from film fans who have received unsolicited phone calls to promote the video and DVD of its Tom Cruise movie Minority Report.
The film giant this week launched Britain's first voicemail message campaign to persuade film buffs to buy the movie.
It marks a significant development in the aggressive world of direct marketing - consumers have had to tolerate junk-mail on their door mat for years, and are now battling with the electronic equivalent, spam emails - but it is believed this is the first time anyone has attempted a voicemail campaign.
Fox sent the recorded messages to 27,000 fans carrying a clip from the hit Steven Spielberg film, which stars Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton.
Listeners heard Tom Cruise's character breathlessly ask, "Where is my Minority Report?" followed by a voiceover urging them not to miss out on the film, which was released on Monday on video and DVD.
But by Tuesday morning advertising watchdogs were already receiving complaints that the ad was distressing, with one recipient concerned the heavy breathing in the film excerpt could be mistaken for a nuisance caller.
The calls were made to both mobile and landline numbers given to Fox under previous promotions.
A spokeswoman for the ASA confirmed it had received a written complaint that the ad was "inappropriate and offensive", and said the watchdog was considering launching an investigation.
The complainant was particularly concerned that the caller's number had been withheld, making it impossible to tell who was behind it.
Fox said it had received no complaints about the campaign, although one recipient had called to find out more about it.
A company spokesman said the campaign had been carefully planned to avoid offending people and sent only to people who had opted in to receive promotions from the company. He added that the voiceover at the end of the message made it clear it was an advertisement.
Although SMS text messaging is commonly used by marketeers, Fox claims it is the first time voicemail messages have been used for advertising.
But it is not the first time a film distributor has fallen foul of the advertising regulator.
United International Pictures sparked more than 100 complaints to the ASA over a poster campaign for the Ali G movie featuring the spoof rapper with his hand on a woman's naked bottom.
The ad was banned and UIP now has to have all its ads pre-vetted by the ASA.
Talk about poisoning the sales of a movie. If I got that message on my cell phone, I certainly would double think buying the movie, which was (IMHO) marginal at best.
The War On Terror will not be a success until the world is rid of telemarketers.
I know that Spielberg is to the left of Stalin, but he's an excellent filmmaker.