The Moving picture world (June 1921)

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488 MOVING PICTURE WORLD June 4, 1921 Advertising Coercion An Editorial Reprinted by Request Because It Is In Order Now for the Consideration of All RECENT activities among publications in our industry have prompted a request that we reprint an editorial published in Moving Picture World on the important subject of adver- tising coercion. In responding we point out that although this was written some months ago the principles involved are as important now as then. The editorial is as follows: There are several ways of soliciting advertising and one of these is with a club. This plan, system or game was not invented since the birth of moving pictures, but a long time before by knaves who preyed through inspiring fear. It used to be known as blackmail and the term is still descriptive. One of the easiest avenues for blackmail is the roasting review. No moving picture producer or distributor can boast of a 100 per cent, production in every release. This is humanly impossible, and the journalistic jackal has his ripe opportunity with every release that has a fault. He sits himself down, dips his quill in gall and proceeds to get smart at the expense of a production to which has been given time, money and brains, and which may have faults too minor to interfere with its commercial or box office value. But the review will suggest to the exhibitor who is searching about for the best for his theatre, that a sure-fire failure has been offered to him, and naturally, he turns a stone ear and an iced eye on the salesman. If he has seen the picture and has found it suitable he still has the roast review as a supreme argument against paying anything near the rental price asked. The busy producer or distributor, with an overwhelming mass of work always weighing down upon him, looks for the easiest way out of the difficulty. He does not want to start a war with the jackal because of the time it would take and still more because of the fact that in most instances he is not by training equipped to do battle against the unscrupulous roaster. Then he does what may be a natural but what certainly is a most foolish thing. He instructs his advertising department to feed the jackal with paid copy and the fat is in the fire. The producer or distributor has actually financed the blackmailer. In his heart the payer of this levy is sick and disgusted with the situation. Like the man betrayed or tricked by one woman he thinks all are precisely like the vampire. In turn the entire business of publication, so essential if the screen is to have its own medium of expression in its own industry, suffers just as all the moving picture busi- ness suffers when an evil production gains circulation. The remedy is simple, but it takes courage, and the formula is as follows: Do your advertising solely on the basis of the character, influence and circulation of the publication. If you are paying tribute to the jackal publication, stop it and stop it immediately. Give orders lo your advertising department to throw the representatives of the black- mailer out of your office, and rest assured they will jump at the chance. On the other hand, don't be stupid enough to attempt to stop fair criticism and open discussion. It would hurt you more than it would hurt anyone else, even if you could do it, and you certainly couldn't. Remember your own standing may be judged by the company your advertising keeps, and therefore, insist, if we may repeat the formula, that character, influence and circulation are the only things of importance to you.