Recently Universal Studios did something incredibly smart. One of their representatives contacted Chris Thilk. Chris runs the blog Movie Marketing Madness, which, as the name suggests, covers all things movie marketing....

Periodically, Chris will publish a 'Movie Marketing Madness' post for a particular upcoming movie, where Chris will meticulously detail every aspect of the movie's promotional plan and pinpoint exactly how effective he feels the entire campaign is in promoting the movie. This week, Miami Vice will open in theaters, and Chris will review the marketing for the movie on MMM.
But his post about Miami Vice will have an interesting twist, as he explains on his blog: "Want to know why my column next week on Miami Vice is going to be so cool? Because someone from Universal Studios took half-an-hour out of his day to call and chat with me about it.".
Here is Universal, on the eve of the release of a movie which they are hoping will be their summer blockbuster, and they are saavy enough to contact the internet's most influential movie marketing blogger so he can be empowered to help promote their film.
But that's not what makes this such a great move for Universal.
After Chris makes his announcement that Universal has contacted him, bloggers run with the story. Within 48 hours, upwards of 15 other blogs had linked to MMM, Universal, and Miami Vice. Effectively, these bloggers had created a spontaneous marketing campaign for not only Miami Vice, but for Universal Studios. All because one rep from one company was smart enough to take 30 minutes out of his day to empower one of his advocates to market for his company.
But that's not what makes this such a great move for Universal.
What makes this such a great move for Universal is that now they have empowered Chris to market for not only Miami Vice, but every film and property they release from now on. According to Chris, "This guy made himself available to me and you can bet that anytime I have a question about a Universal movie I'm going to ping him. Whether it's for more details on something or to clarify something I don't quite understand. That way Universal will get their information out correctly and I'll get my facts straight before hitting 'Publish.' It's a win-win."
How do you put a price tag on the positive exposure that Universal will get in return for that 30-minute phone call? My guess is that they've already had about 10,000 blog readers exposed to this story on all the blogs that picked up on the story from MMM, just in the first 2 days since Chris posted about the chat he had with Universal on MMM.
How many more posts and columns and articles about Universal and their properties will Chris write just for the rest of this year, as a result of one 30-minute chat? How many people will be exposed to Universal and their properties as a result? 25,000? 50,000? 100,000? Even more?
Not a bad way to spend a half hour, is it?
The bigger, and perhaps more relevant question is, how much will Paramount or New Line, or another studio pay to get the same level of exposure with those tens and maybe even hundreds of thousands of movie fans? Because whatever they pay, remember that it won't cost Universal one penny.
The future belongs to the companies that are smart enough to empower their communities to market for them.
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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier