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Review: BL&T Associates Promotion of HBO Documentary

This afternoon, Irregular Times received an e-mail solicitation from Raimy N. Rosenduft of BLT & Associates, who “create unique online campaigns that strategically engage users in a branded experience, while also working to build upon and enhance the message of traditional mediums like print and A/V.”

Yes, they really wrote that. Ms. Rosenduft and her BLT would like Irregular Times to promote the appearance of a documentary on the cable channel HBO:

I’m working with HBO to promote their award winning documentary film programming. On Tuesday, September 7th HBO Documentary Films presents [redacted].

Academy Award winner [redacted] (“[redacted]” “[redacted]”) brings Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist [redacted staged “[redacted],” one-man play to the screen, chronicling [redacted], as well as [redacted]’s struggle to maintain objectivity as a journalist in the wake of [redacted].

We have very exciting content for you to share with your readers, including stills from the film, the trailer, press release and key art.

[redacted] **Feel free to share any of these assets, but please do not link directly to this page.

Fine, Ms. Rosenduft, we’ll be sure to keep your confidential web page where you offer blogs a few photos, a 30-second trailer and a press release from which they can craft “articles” in which they can pretend to have knowledge of the movie…

… and in return we’ll keep the name of that HBO documentary secret, too. Otherwise, we’d be giving that documentary a bad name by letting everyone know that the advance blogosphere praise for it is largely cut and pasted in from your canned materials by people who haven’t actually seen the documentary. That is the one piece of the “A/V medium” you’ve left out, and it’s the one piece that any honest writer needs to actually say anything at all about the documentary, except perhaps:

don’t forget – The film debuts on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7TH (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

So allow me to offer the only review I can honestly manage: the review of BL&T Associates promotion itself.

You’re already aware of my first reaction: BLT & Associates provides “Social Media” materials for bloggers to promote a documentary they haven’t seen. This propagation of dishonesty is what we should expect from a corporation like BLT & Associates, which exists to produce profit, so let’s not be too hard on the corporation. Rather, let’s consider what BLT’s approach suggests: that there are lots of people so eager for “content” they can’t think up on their own that they’re willing to go through the pantomime a “content provider” like BLT requires.

BL&Tomato images of a HBO documentary premiering September 2010

Click through on any of the photos in the above set in that secret website BLT doesn’t want us to tell you about, and you can get a big, fat, graphic for use on your slick entertainment website. Most slick entertainment websites like to use black backgrounds, so the fade-to-black aspect of these photographs is a nice choice. Just loverly.

The BLT website itself, which relies almost completely on Flash, is not so nice a choice. The use of Flash means, among other things, that whatever purple prose BLT uses to advertise itself (“our event driven campaigns have boldly launched,” “we adapt the finished creative to fit all forms of media”) is never indexed and doesn’t appear in any search engine results when people look for a company of consultants who “are detail freaks when it comes to quality control.” It may be that the effort to “shape powerful moments into pieces” requires low visibility, in which case BLT is doing the right thing.

But who am I kidding? I shouldn’t pretend that those little details matter so much to me. Although it’s vexing to wait through mandatory opening animations that provide nothing more than dotted lines,

Animated Dotted Lines Will not Save your Website

and searching around a screen to find a special button that accomplishes nothing in particular is a real

Drag

, I wouldn’t mind if all this weren’t part of an effort to convince people to explain how much they like a movie they’ve never seen.

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