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  • Writer's pictureL. Darryl Armstrong

Guerrilla marketing doesn’t get any better than this

Michael Moore and the Feds – Round 1

Always setting the stage for controversy, whether you agree with his politics or not, Michael Moore is in the best sense of the word a true “guerrilla marketer.” 

The Federal government revealed today that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary “Sicko.”

The Feds are in actuality now helping Moore to ppromote his newest “documentary” that he has entitled “Sicko”.

The Associated Press reports that “Sicko” promises to take the health-care industry to task the way Moore confronted America’s passion for guns in “Bowling for Columbine” and skewered Bush over his handling of Sept. 11 in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” 

Moore is by all characterization either the hero of the Progressives or the hated bad boy of the Conservatives. What he really is — is a self-promoting g-marketeer that understands that controversy sells to any political persuasion.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control notified Moore in a letter dated May 2 that it was conducting a civil investigation for possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo restricting travel to Cuba.

In other words folks, Mike Moore was visiting Cuba without approval and that’s not allowed.

In March, Moore took about 10 ailing workers from the Ground Zero rescue effort in Manhattan for treatment in Cuba, said a person working with the filmmaker on the release of “Sicko.”

The person requested anonymity because Moore’s attorneys had not yet determined how to respond.

Moore scolded Bush over the Iraq war during the 2003 Oscar telecast, received the letter Monday, the person said. “Sicko” premieres May 19 at the Cannes Film Festival and debuts in U.S. theaters June 29.

Moore declined to comment, said spokeswoman Lisa Cohen. In a statement Thursday, “Sicko” producer Meghan O’Hara said the Treasury investigation might be an attempt to undermine the film. “Our health-care system is broken and, all too often, deadly,” O’Hara said.

“The efforts of the Bush administration to conduct a politically motivated investigation of Michael Moore and `Sicko’ will not stop us from making sure the American people see this film.”

After receiving the letter, Moore arranged to place a copy of the film in a “safe house” outside the country to protect it from government interference, said the person working on the release of the film. Sept. 11 rescue workers “risked their lives searching for survivors, recovering bodies, and clearing away toxic rubble,” O’Hara said. “Now, many of these heroes face serious health issues, and far too many of them are not receiving the care they need and deserve.”

All publicity is good publicity – maybe

So, Mike Moore the down-trodden, common man from Michigan, who dresses as slovenly as about anyone I have ever seen, (it’s all part of his marketing persona folks) is now taking on the health care system in this country.

And now we know that the Federal government is conspiring to keep this film that speaks only the truth, and nothing but, from the American public and has the audacity to investigate its producer, who may have broken Federal laws.

Folks, I love this guy, not that I agree with his politics and rantings and ravings, but I love his understanding of how to market his products, how to create buzz about his work, how to play to the media starving for scandulous news about his latest exploits and undertakings against the establishment.

Do you think it is a coincidence that it is revealed today just days prior to the release of his new movie that he is being investiated by the Federal government?

Do you think it odd that Michael himself is not speaking but letting his spokeslady speak for him?

And Michael, always leery of the government’s intentions, a mild-mannered multimillionaire from Michigan, seeking truth and justice has even “squirreled” away a copy of his film in a “safe-house.”

Don’t you just love this?

Put aside your politics and look at the ingenuity of this creative, out-of-the-box, g-marketing strategy.

Why if the Feds had not found out about his actions and started an investigation, had I been Michael, I would have turned myself into them.

I wonder if Michael ever thought of that?

Someone once said, I think it was P.T.. Barnum that “All publicity is good publicity.”

And you know he might just be right.

After all, what is the worst that can happen to Michael Moore, the Academy Award winner, the multimillionaire who wants to still portray himself as the common man, the provoker of all parts of the political establishment, fighting the “giants” of society?

Well, maybe a hefty monetary fine, a few hundred hours of community service, even a little jail time?

And you know what, every single one of those actions taken by the Federal government will get him even more publicity.

Am I advocating that you poke your finger in the eye of the Federal government to sell your products or services? 


However, understand how the media works. The media is always looking for:

A story that pits good against evil; right against wrong; left against right; — you get the idea.

And that’s what the media is all about. They want a story. A story to be good has to be provocative. It has to have a start and middle and an end.

It has to have compelling characters that the public can identify with even if they are not what they seem to be.

A good story can have David (Michael Moore) taking on Goliath (Federal Government, health care, gun owners, the President) and in some small way making a difference or at the very least a statement.

I predict that Michael Moore’s “Sicko” will once again make him millions of dollars and a large part of that profit comes from his understanding of how to use the media to get publicity to his project.

I recommend that if you want to learn more about such strategies and tactics that you get and read a copy of Guerrilla PR Wired : Waging a Successful Publicity Campaign Online, Offline, and Everywhere In Between (Paperback).

Until next time – from the Baltimore Airport…

Dr. L. Darryl Armstrong

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