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The Billy Bob Thorton Effect

Last night I finally got a chance to watch the video of the Billy Bob Thorton interview on CBC. In case you missed it, this is the video where Billy Bob Thorton acts like an idiot during a radio interview promoting his band. What made him act this way? The interviewer had the audacity to mention he was an actor.

After watching this video, my first reaction was this guy is brilliant. 9 billion bands are interviewed 9 billion times every day and no one pays attention to any of them. But this interview was everywhere. Pretty much everyone with an internet connection is now clued to the fact that Billy Bob Thorton has a band. Awareness PR homerun.

But was it? There's an old saying that you measure publicity by the pound - or there's no such thing as bad press. Alot of people - especially online - seem to subscribe to that. They promote their company or their product not through the product itself, but through their personal association with it.

The theory seems to be that the more outrageous you act, the more attention you can get for yourself and, as a result, get more attention to your company and your product. Billy Bob acts like an ass and now everybody knows he's got a band. But do they remember the bands name? I didn't. Do they buy their music or go see their show? Again, I didn't. But it did succeed in making Billy Bob more famous.

My guess is that's the effect this type of marketing has on most people who employ it. It achieves a level of renown for the person, but not the product. Now, if your product and your personality are inextricably tied, then perhaps its a good strategy. But that's not most folks.

So I guess my verdict on Billy Bob is: good news for him, bad news for his band.

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