The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

JaipurThe Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened on March 6th. My husband and I were eagerly anticipating and hoping to see the movie before we left for India but the schedule didn’t allow. We thought its predecessor, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a great movie, very entertaining. But what made it special for us is that we went to Jaipur, India after it released and actually saw the place where it was filmed. Because of our firsthand knowledge of life in Jaipur, we could relate on many levels. Having friends in India and “doing” ministry there, we hoped that the second would be just as good. Hey, if it has Richard Gere in it, it has to be, right?!

At this very moment, we are back in Jaipur and we hear that the reviews have not been so great. But it made me think about PR. (I know. You are asking, “What doesn’t?”)
With the success of the first movie and cast including Richard Gere and Judy Dench, expectations for the sequel were high. The first week grossed more than $8 million and by the second week the total was $12 million. I am not a movie critic or expert, but I’m not sure this is what everyone had hoped for.

So what happened?

The reviews by moviegoers were great, most were 10s, but the response from movie critics was not so great. Did their opinion keep people away? Was it the time of release? Was it a poorly written story line? Poor acting? (Hard to believe with that cast!) Was it promoted well enough? (Probably so. I saw it everywhere.) We may never know for sure.
Such is the nature of PR. With all of the work that goes into promoting and building a public platform, you never know for sure what will “stick” and resonate with the audience. I am sure that the PR strategists behind this film did their homework and knew their audience. I am confident they did everything possible to get the actors placed on the right shows, posted throughout social media, and the trailers were spectacular, sure to capture the attention of anyone enamored with the exotic feel of India. Since I haven’t seen it yet, I can’t comment on the storyline…was it weak?

Sometimes a book is promoted well, has a great cover, the authors receive rave reviews only to see it fizzle because the writing is not that great, the message doesn’t resonate or the author fails to “stay” in the public eye to continue to promote the book. There are other times that little is done in the way of promotion yet it rips through a certain demographic and finds its way onto the best-seller list (e.g. – David Platt’s Radical or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz) and in the process, provides a platform for the author where they now have a “voice” that people will listen to.

I say that it all goes back to spaghetti. “Spaghetti,” you ask? Yes, spaghetti! Throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. And throw a lot of it. And keep throwing it. Throw different kinds of spaghetti (angel hair, fettuccini, lasagna, etc.) and see what the audience likes. Sometimes you are not surprised by the results and sometime you are.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be strategic or targeted, but the truth is that sometimes we are surprised, sometimes maybe not, but we have to keep trying.

What are you doing that is working for you? How are you promoting your message, building your platform? I would love to hear from you!

Tina Jacobson is the founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.

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