20th Century Fox's 'A Cure For Wellness' movie promoted using a network of sensationalist fake news sites
Horror movie ‘A Cure For Wellness’ has tapped into the fake news phenomena in a less-than-conventional marketing campaign that saw it create and fund sites spreading untruths.
Salt Lake Guardian editorial (with embedded movie ad) / Buzzfeed
The movie, distributed by 20th Century Fox tells the story of a less-than-scrupulous ‘wellness centre’ in Switzerland, however “things are not as they seem” … the movie's marketers leveraged this tagline for the drive, first dissected by Buzzfeed.
To promote the movie leading up to its 17 February launch production company Regency Enterprises created sites that host sensationalist fake news - also on the sites were passing references to the movie in addition to ads promoting the film. The five sites are as follows, the Sacramento Dispatch (now deleted), The Indianapolis Gazette (now deleted) and the Salt Lake City Guardian, Houston Leader, NY Morning Post, all of which now lead to a landing page for the movie (the sites were pulled after the initial media report).
Originally featured were stories about a fake water brand, a Donald Trump vaccination ban and a Lady Gaga Super Bowl Muslim tribute, among others. The reports received a respectable degree of reach gaining coverage on Conservative news blogs although the content and the call to action are very loosely connected upon a thread of fake news and fake cures.
Buzzfeed received a statement from movie producer Regency Enterprises: “A Cure for Wellness is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker, as part of this campaign, a ‘fake’ wellness site healthandwellness.co was created and we partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news.”