I fell for this marketing scam – and hope to replicate it

My son signed up for a list to audition for movie and tv shows.
There was a booth outside the movie theatre when we went to HSM3 (he’s 9 and can sniff adolescent drama from here).

So Friday night they called – they have an opening at their Saturday audition. They named a reasonably well known director that would be there and that this would be an open casting call. They emailed a script.

Nate was very excited and didnt even complain about having to shower and comb his hair right after his basketball game. He memorized his lines. He was excited and invested, as of course was I, who helped him memorize his lines, laid out a nice outfit for him, and drove him there.

We get there, and they tell the assembled crowd about all the famous actors who started as kids. How its hard work, and how we need to understand that few would be chosen – for their film acting school. Which costs $1800 for 6 weeks (so says the brochure) and $8000 for a year.

Anyway – after the pep talk, each kid is “interviewed” and asked why they want to be an actor, told how hard it is, and asked do they really, really want it. Of course they declare devotion to the task. The interviewer (talent director) tells us that if they get a “call back” we need to be ready to act, as the process moves quickly. We’re to call at precisely 11 am tomorrow to hear if we got a call back. Then we go on to the “audition”.

In a small group of about 6 families (out of about 75 all together), the kids go through their lines in a sound studio in front of a camera and lights. Nate does admirably. Remembering all his lines and saying them with some level of expression.

Now – he’s dying to call to find out if he gets a call back, to which both parents are supposed to go along with him (for the financial pitch, I’m sure).

So these guys got him to feel invested, declare devotion, and feel among the chosen, so they can get some money out of us.

This version’s a little sleazy. Especially because it targets the kids. But, I’m sure there’s a way to do this the “right” way. To get your potential customers to be devoted to you before you’ve even tried.

How would you do it?



  1. I think this is basically the technique used by “Who’s Who” and other such directories. What better way to guarantee sales when someone’s invested in seeing their name in print? I felt this way after I received a “Who’s Who” invite for something completely bogus pre-blogging days. If it had been today, I’d have written about it.

  2. you’re right of course, this is not a new approach. but it really was stunning. the goal would be to achieve it in such a way that its not a scam – that you’re actually providing something of real value that people are that hyped about.

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