In chess, a gambit is where you sacrifice a pawn to gain positional advantage on the chessboard. During last Sunday’s Oscars, Sacha Baron Cohen dressed up as “Admiral General Aladeen” from his film, The Dictator, and spilled Kim Jong Il’s ashes on interviewer Ryan Seacrest.
Cohen sacrificed his ability to market the show in similar ways at future events (something dwarfed by the value of pulling off this stunt at the Oscars) to plug his new movie, which might have significant financial benefits for Cohen.
But was this stunt even successful from a marketing perspective? Did the public decline Cohen’s gambit? In this Future of Engagement episode, host Murray Newlands analyzes the social media response to Cohen’s ash-spilling and explores the bigger question of whether stunts like this in general actually work:
- The media knew beforehand that Cohen was dressing up as Aladeen so there were a lot of cameras on him when he spilled ashes onto Seacrest.
- Choosing to “paint” a big-name reporter in ashes forced the media to keep talking about it…
- …But the responses Cohen got on social media were almost equally split between negative and positive responses.
This Alerti graph looks at what and where people were sharing about the terms “Sacha Baron Cohen” and “Dictator”