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Steven Soderbergh's New Film 'Side Effects' Goes Viral with Drug Advertising Campaign

12.5.12 @ 2:57PM Tags : , , ,

In my experience, viral campaigns tend to work best for people who would have already been excited for the film anyway — though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve covered them a little in the past on this site, most recently with Ridley Scott’s sci-fi Alien Prequel/Not Prequel Prometheus. Now we’ve got a rather ingenius campaign for Steven Soderbergh’s newest film Side Effects (his last theatrical film for the foreseeable future) which takes the form of an advertisement for an anti-depressant drug called Ablixa, and a consultation from Jude Law himself.

Here’s the advertisement, for the fake drug Ablixa:

The trailer for the film:

It’s not often that you get films with subject matter like this that can work perfectly for a realistic viral campaign, but it would have been great to see this ad without knowing that it’s for a movie. There’s a good chance I would have believed it, too, considering how many new drugs come out all the time and how many of them find their way onto TV advertising.

If you head on over to the website, you can get a free consultation from Jude Law himself, playing psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks M.D., and depending on your answers to the questions, he may either strongly recommend Ablixa for depression, or simply suggest that you see a colleague of his to see if you might qualify for the free trial of the drug. Through that website you can also share with friends or sign up for an email list. It would be interesting to see how many people would be fooled by this if Jude Law wasn’t a part of the campaign — though I’m sure the legalities of that might get tricky.

What do you think of the Ablixa advertising? What are some of your favorite viral marketing campaigns? Let us know below.

Link: Ablixa — Website

[via Creative Planet Network]


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  • Oh my God. I need the score to that commercial. Like 90′s Thomas Newman…

  • Anyone else feel this is in bad taste?

    • This is in delicious taste, quite frankly.

    • Yes, I can see a depressed person stumbling upon that commercial and that being the last straw.

    • I really hope this movie crashes and burns. There’s still such a negative stigma surrounding mental illness and making a movie that villainizes antidepressants, which a large number of people really, really need, only prolongs views of people with mental disorders as dangerous or bizarre. That stereotype will only continue to prevent people from seeking the help they need. Skip the movie, support the cause.

      • I think metal illness is real, but I dont think all the medications are real. Almost all of them have side effects and people dont know about it. And big pharma just give it to people because of money. In a few years all the US wil be taiking pills for Anxiety, depression and even will be a pill to”handle if you dont want to take your mediaction”. And thats jus more money and a great business. Now you have kids taiking medication and the Dr. give him a prescription (but they dont said the side effect may occur like addition, so you have a client for 20 o 30 years)

  • One word. Blah. Soderbergh is talented, of course he is, but his last 3 movies all sucked big time.

  • Stu MacQuarrie on 12.5.12 @ 3:38PM

    I appreciate the satire, but the dialogue mix in the fake ad is terrible.

  • I like the concept of “reality ad” for film advertisement, it’s like an extension of the reality contained in the movie..

    But I also feel that it is a pale replica of this video that is one of my all-time favorite, maybe number 1 (add the surprise effect!!) :

  • Law is trolling hard there, I love it.

  • There’s a high chance that the plot involves some “sleep-walking”, I am predicting.

  • James Carr on 12.6.12 @ 1:19PM

    wake me up when this director makes a decent movie (Solaris was great….but since then?)

  • David Sweedler on 12.6.12 @ 6:46PM

    Let me guess the script. Big bad pharma suppresses the clinical trial data and really bad things happen. Of course Corporate America is unconcerned about the personal welfare of the patients while extracting maximum profits from same. Lot’s of inexplicable conspiracies and dark dark scenes of mayhem ensue. Shades of zombie apocalypse.

  • earnest reply on 12.7.12 @ 12:24AM

    Yes! what is up with the suck-@ss vo? Otherwise spot on.

  • Daniel Mimura on 12.12.12 @ 12:52PM

    The fake ablixa ad was great… really there wasn’t a single indication that it wasn’t a serious, on the level ad…

    …but after seeing the full trailer, and comparing it to the Jude Law “you probably could use Ablixa” questionaire interactive thingie…

    …I’m left not knowing what the tone of this film is. Is it funny? Is it a straight thriller? It usually doesn’t bode well when the tone is unclear.

    The mock ads reminded me of the Lacuna ads for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:

    …it remains to be seen what exactly the tone of Side Effects is, but the Lacuna spot set the tone for Eternal Sunshine perfectly.