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September 18 2006

Firefly/Serenity Viral Newspaper Ads. A nifty guerilla marketing idea posted by 11th Hour. Ads can be bought by local firefly groups(or sponsored by 1 person) to appear in local papers. The idea is to bring out the "WTF" reaction and engage the curiosity of the casual reader. Besides advertising the show, thank you to Universal ads are encouraged as well.

I just have to say I love the personal ad suggestion for Jayne "I ain't a girl" Cobb.

EDIT: It seems there is a problem with the website. Check out the google cached page HERE

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-18 20:53 ]

An interesting idea, but I can't see it doing any good. Couldn't hurt I suppose though.
Well its not an expensive idea if done properly, plus it might entice a few people to check out the show. And it might not work at all, but some of those suggestions are quite clever. I wish I could come up with something nice.
I can never decide if these things are worthwhile, or if the people who do them might do better to just sink that money into buying more dvds and just giving em away.
I disagree, ajay42, after all if you buy an extra set of DVDs you may get a couple more people to watch them (but by now I'm sure we've all converted all of our family and friends who are convertable), but the ad may get a dozen more people to rent the DVDs and if only a couple of them go out and buy the series that will be twice as many DVD sets bought. At any rate I think it is a cute idea; at worst it will seem funny to the local newspaper and they could end up writing a story about local Browncoats (our rescreenings, shindigs, and other events). There is no bad publicity, as they say.
Yeah, I hear you embers. Like I said, I can't decide. I agree in principle, but you never know if it will actually happen; whereas the dvd money goes directly where we want the money to go. Also DVD watching can be pretty social; basically just slow DVD distribution amongst friends is what turned Donnie Darko from box office disaster to cult hit.
Well, the DVD thing to speak for myself, I have shown the DVD to almost everyone I know, , so to me its like what do I do now? It is a cute thing and might attract attention. That is one of the main points about guerrilla marketing, is to draw attention to a product, through non-tradional channels. One of the aspects about the marketing attempt for Serenity last year was to try new untested methods to market the film. Like the river tam sessions and the inviting of bloggers to screening etc. Now whether they were successful or not is not the point here, the point is the attempt of new methods.

Instead of attempting new methods on the internet, you can try things outside of the internet(which was one of the criticisms of all of the internet generated buzz). It should be known, for those unfamiliar, 11th Hour is the same person who came up with those excellent guerrilla marketing posters. She is one of the ultimate guerrilla marketers. Check out here.

And for anyone thinking, of course this won't guarentee a sequel, nothing will, but it is fun, and its always cool to increase the fandom. Even if we never get a sequel, as long as we do fun things, do charity work, other stuff, and at the same time increase the fanbase, then its all great in my book at least. It is a service to the community in my mind to introduce people to the show/movie, and you know what they say "the more the merrier". Always great to have people to join the party even late late comers!
There is no bad publicity, as they say.

Heh. Most of the time the press never takes fans seriously. It's usually a case of "oh look at those wacky sad little geeks, what will they do next to make us laugh at them"?
Heh. Most of the time the press never takes fans seriously. It's usually a case of "oh look at those wacky sad little geeks, what will they do next to make us laugh at them"?

Depends on what form the publicity takes. If it's clever, creative and fun, then it stands a good chance of getting peoples' attention and curiosity going... in a good way. Publicity is, after all, advertising... it's a matter of how you do it.

The "viral newspaper ads" are a way to reach out to a lot of people who do not haunt the regular places that Browncoats have already been doing their good works. Studios want a property to reach out into a more mainstream audience to pull in the numbers needed to justify continued investment of their resources. Luckily, Firefly/Serenity is so well written, with such wonderful characters, that it is a property that will connect with people who aren't necessarily Sci-Fi fans.

The viral newspaper ad idea is something that is affordable and available to any fan who wants to participate. The beauty of it is that a fan doesn't have to "design" an ad... these ads are clever "mock" ads which are placed as though they are "real" ads. For the more ambitious fan who does want to create a more elaborate ad, maybe with graphics, well, that can be done too.

So instead of one big expensive ad, that requires a significant investment of money, time and effort for the fans... we can place many smaller ads all throughout a newspaper and start getting attention through sheer numbers.

As it is with guerilla marketing, it's not just one idea that will work the miracle... it's the cumulative effect of many different and varied campaigns.
And I guess the fact is with the small ads, like in the classifieds, people are already looking through them, sifting through most ads looking for something. Its an active search. So if you have something that is catchy, quirky and grabs attention, the person may investigate that later. Whereas with traditional advertising, it is more of an annoyance, a distraction that just pops up(billboards, tv ads etc), where the person is not actively looking, just passively distracted.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-18 20:43 ]
Classieds _are_ an active search. They're an active search for info relevant to what you are looking for. And ads that are not what you were looking for are ignored. My opinion (not that you paid for it) is that this is a waste of people's money. Give those few dollars to a charity or something.

Besides, somewhere a spy using the classifed ads for communication will get confused.
Well technically spending money on anything "frivolous" is a waste of money. For me, I would never buy any action figurines, or even comic books(except Serenity), but many people do. THe fun aspect(I guess I am alone in this since I think this is fun), is making up or inventing a small mock ad, and then paying for it and then hoping in small offchance, people might notice it, especially if it is done cleverly.
Thanks so much Kurya for bringing up an excellent point. When people are reading through ads they are already, by definition, in a "search mode" and in a more receptive frame of mind. The mock ads are also meant to style themselves to the area of the newspaper in which they are placed. So in a way, they will, at first, fit the category that people are searching in... then people will notice that the ad takes an unusual turn...

I've been trying to connect to a few times today, but the site seems to be having some technical difficulties. Who knows, might even be WHEDONesque hits which are crashing the site! Anyway, just thought I'd post some examples of the newspaper ads in case folks were not able to access the link posted in the thread title.


 • 6'4" Muscular SWM Seeks Willin' Woman •

"Hero of Canton", Merc for hire, Good tracker
Once hit a guy in the neck at five hundred yards with a bent scope.
Has own bunk on Firefly class spaceship.
Lookin' for a good grapple • no strings

Jayne (I ain't a girl) Cobb

Cortex link:

Keep the iPod, the X-Box, and my Halo game,
But I gotta get my Firefly and Serenity DVDs back 
Going through serious withdrawls here.

Reach me at:

ID: GottaHaveSerenity

Click here for an example of what one of the "Classified Ads" might look like in the actual newspaper.

Click here to see a Kaylee "thank you" and "Happy Serenity 'Versary" ad done in a graphic art style.
Yeah I dunno if has been "whedonesqued", dunno if that is possible, but I linked to a google cached page up there, so they can see the original post. In the google cached page I don't think there were the mock-ups you made though.
People still read classified ads in actual newspapers?
People still read classified ads in actual newspapers?

Yep. A national tabloid in the UK will get you a few million eyes - go to regional and obviously it depends on region to region, but if it's a city it'll be a very sizable audience.

It's really cheap, too - cheaper than online advertising.

I mean, Danny Wallace put an advert in London's Loot, which contained the words "Join Me" and a PO box address, and started a cult from it.
Just in terms of appartment hunting, the french language weekly paper VOIR, that come out thursday mornings was invaluable. The online database comes in 2 or 3 days later and by that time, any good oppurtunities are gone.

"which contained the words "Join Me" and a PO box address, and started a cult from it." hmmmmm ..... there may be some hope afterall. Maybe we should instead of just the text, have Joe Sweden's face with swirls for eyes.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-18 22:04 ]

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-18 22:06 ]
Heh. Most of the time the press never takes fans seriously. It's usually a case of "oh look at those wacky sad little geeks, what will they do next to make us laugh at them"?

There is a new show that will be starting up here called FANatical.
They approached the Canadian Browncoats wanting to film us at a shindig and interview a few of us. Looking at the advanced literature for the show, it seemed pretty clear that we would indeed be treated as wacky sad little geeks. So we said no. Their literature has changed since then. I suspect their aim has not.
Wow, definitely not the kind of exposure we want!
I'm with Lioness and Rogue Slayer. I don't want our fandom to look like a cult, or like silly geeks. Like, every time there's a fan con in the area, inevitably the local TV stations go out there to film the storm troopers and the largest-looking or geekiest-looking people they can find (bonus if they're dressed as Klingons or in elfin garb) and show it at the end of the Saturday night news. Then they cut back to the anchors, who shake their heads and laugh about it. No, thank you. :-(
billz, how does the thread about viral newspaper ads (like in the classifieds section) make the fandom look like a cult? Besides, I doubt the mainstream media and people are even aware of the browncoat fans anyways.

[ edited by kurya on 2006-09-19 00:44 ]
Do any of the Firefly/Serenity characters have Myspace pages yet?
billz, how does the thread about viral newspaper ads (like in the classifieds section) make the fandom look like a cult? Besides, I doubt the mainstream media and people are even aware of the browncoat fans anyways.

Kurya ~ I think what's happened is that we have a case of thread topic drift here. Rogue Slayer and Billz appear to be commenting on the above post from Lioness... which was about a show which seems to be geared to doing stories on fandoms with the intent of making fun of them.

Maybe we can steer the thread back to the topic of the viral newspaper ads again.

I was able to log onto a while ago and noticed that people have been posting in the viral newspaper ad thread there. So far the idea appears to be well received. The idea does have the benefit of being something that just about anyone can do, it's inexpensive, different, and can be done in big or local papers. Also allows people who may be new at guerilla marketing to discover how empowering it feels!
kurya, yep, it's what 11thHour said. No worries. :-)

On topic, I honestly don't know what effect the viral newspaper ads might have. Will people read them? Will it get them excited about Firefly/Serenity? It will be interesting to find out!
Hmmm, oh ok, sorry billz. I kind of got confused, you understand.

Do any of the Firefly/Serenity characters have Myspace pages yet?

I do not know, I don't think so. I know supposedly some of the "actors" like Sean Maher has one, I remember awhile ago, but most probably they are fake. I think....

In terms of making character pages on myspace, can it be done? is it legal? Will people buy into it? And add to those billz questions. It is an interesting idea. And yes it would be exciting to find out. It would hard to quantify the effect(a noticable surge in sales? or would that be related to the anniversary...) I guess when one does things one only needs to have faith. Doesn't matter what one believes in. Thats what a great man once said. You may have heard of him.
kurya: "In terms of making character pages on myspace, can it be done? is it legal?"

I dunno about the legality of it in terms of the creators and the originating studio(s), but myspace has been pretty liberal & hands-off of fictional character profiles (unlike the almost-late-and-barely-lamented Friendster.) Other users pretty much accept that you are role-playing, but may enjoy interacting with you in that role, and get their friends to play, too. I imagine the legality of it is similar to that of other fan sites.

(I'm not saying anything in particular, mind you, about Fakester profiles on Friendster and myspace -- I don't know who in their right minds would do such a thing, I'm just saying that at one point I was running about a dozen of these profiles. It becomes hard work, after a bit of time passes, and your friend group/popularity reaches a certain tipping point...)
QuoterGal, I'm surprised at you falsifying profiles. That's typically done by plastic surgeons. And forgive my dumbness, but I don't understand: who's tipping whom? 'Cause if there's cash to be made, I may want some tips on the tips.

all of our family and friends who are convertable

embers, my niece was in that recent flick "Cars". She's the TrailBlazer model of the family, but her top is NEVER down.
In terms of making character pages on myspace, can it be done?

I'm sure it can.

is it legal?

I would doubt it but then it's MySpace which is crude and crass. Yes I am a snob, I loathe the place.
[U]nlike the almost-late-and-barely-lamented Friendster

I like Friendster. It's gentle. MySpace - not so much.

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