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09 January 2015


John Doe

The findings of the study you are introducing your article with suggest that bad publicity can, in some cases and under certain circumstances, increase sales, indeed. But: The commotion over “The Interview” is precisely not such a case. Let me explain that:

In said study Berger et al. examine the influence negative quality-related publicity has on (cultural) products, the key word being quality-related. They find that such negative publicity can increase sales of previously relatively unknown products after a certain time delay, when the original negative content of the information fades away leaving a raised level of non-judgemental awareness for the product only.

It is obvious, that the great publicity of “The Interview” was of negative nature and it is no less obvious that it did raise sales. Nonetheless it did so because of reasons that are very different from the ones discussed in the paper. The movie did not earn overly negative reviews (although I heard it had little chance of winning a people’s choice award); the quality of the product itself was never in question. Instead, public interest centred on a cyber attack and the resulting political implications, neither of which is related to the quality of the film in any way. The fading of the negative aspect of the publicity created is thus not crucial here but it is for the subjects of investigation of the study.

In fact, the authors mention cases like this at the end of their paper (they give the example of Michael Jackson and his various scandals which also were not linked to the quality of his music) and they explicitly state that the “current findings on this issue are far from conclusive” and they recommend that “further research should examine not only direct negative publicity (i. e. product reviews) but also publicity that is of a more indirect nature” like the Jackson issue.

It seems to me a little as if you had only read the abstract which, if not carefully read, may lead to misunderstandings. Or maybe I just misapprehended you, in which case I would be very sorry.

Tina Ambos

Thank you very much for your valuable comment and the detailed explanation. It’s true that Berger, Sorensen and Rasmussen made quality-related studies to this subject and that they say in their general discussion in the end of the paper that negative press could also affect the success without mentioning the quality of the product. It’s also right, that the quality itself of “The Interview” was never in question. So I understand that you want to point out, that “The Interview” is an example of the last part of the paper and not of the first part, which I didn’t mention in the introduction of my contribution for the blog. Thank you for this additional information for our readers and expanding my bridge from the study to the example “The Interview”! The negative press about the cyberattack is for many people “the first time they hear about the product, and thus negative publicity may still have positive effects” (page 825; the general discussion starts on page 824).

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