Exploiting the inattentive, episode 3: Confusing movie titles


In early 1997, the movie Fly Away Home, a film about a teenage girl and her father rescuing a family of geese (inspired by Operation Migration), was released on DVD. the movie was well-reviewed and even earned an Academy Award nomination. The very same weekend, the movie with the very similar name Follow Me Home was released in theaters. Its critical reception was less favorable. Coincidence? Or exploiting the inattentive?

Comments (14)
  1. Iain says:

    At my video shop you have to ask for films by name. I went and asked for ‘Fifty First Dates’, the romantic comedy. I didn’t notice till I got home I’d been given ‘Fifty-First State’, the (rather poor) violent thriller.

    I felt that it would be far too complicated and embarrassing to explain the error.

  2. Aaargh! says:

    At a local supermarket they have 4packs of the stores own brand of ‘cola’ right next to the 4packs of Coca Cola(tm), wrapped in a very similar red wrapper. There isn’t even a divider between the shelves (there is between every other product). The bottles have roughly the same shape an similar labels (just different enough to avoid getting sued).

  3. CGomez says:

    I dont see this as much anymore, but many Disney feature animation titles are from stories that are public domain.  I would often see mock versions of Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.

    They always came in that same puffy white oversized VHS case Disney used.  And the cover art would evoke memories of the Disney feature, but (hopefully) with enough difference to prevent copyright infringment claims.  The genie in Aladdin was purple and had a big grin like Disney’s genie, but the face was altered enough to not look too much like the one Robin Williams voiced.

    Interesting tactic.  Don’t personally know how well it worked.

  4. poochner says:

    I imagine some part of how well it worked to keep from getting sued would involve how closely the knock-off followed Disney’s changes to the story.  

  5. JIM says:

    Have your guys heard of "signaling", a valid marketing tool?

  6. Mr Cranky says:

    JIM: No.  But if it means "trying to trick the consumer into buying your cheap derivative product instead of what he intended", then I think it would only be considered "valid" by marketers.

  7. @JIM: How bout a link so you don’t waste our time?  http://www.marketingpower.com/content31114.php.

    Why is it "valid marketing techniques" are almost always synonymous with deception?

  8. Evan says:

    @Aaargh:

    The stores around me will do things like make a shelf with:

    [name brand] [store brand] [name brand]

    all of the same sort of thing. Then they’ll put the store brand version on fire. I almost got caught by that a couple times before I started expecting it.

  9. At the moment, there’s one movie studio that specialises in producing low-budget, IMDB-rated-below-4, direct-to-DVD movies that could, in a dim light, be mistaken for the latest blockbuster.

    That studio is "The Asylum":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Asylum

    High points of their output (as far as the titles go, at least) include:

    "Snakes on a Train"

    "Transmorphers"

    "Alien Vs Hunter"

    And, for some reason released before the upcoming Will Smith version of "I Am Legend":

    "I Am Omega"

    I, personally, feel that titles this close to those of real movies are only permissible for hard-core pornography. Regrettably, the depth of plotting and quality of production we’ve come to expect from porn is seldom to be found in The Asylum’s productions.

    (Could be worse, though. Could be Uwe Boll.)

  10. Ian says:

    Given that the store brands are usually just relabelled versions of the named brands (at least, this is true here in the UK), I think I’ll just take the cheaper store brand version most times, thank you.

  11. Evan says:

    @myself: "Then they’ll put the store brand version on fire."

    On fire? Where the heck did that come from? In case it’s not clear from context, that should have said they’d put the store brand on *sale*.

  12. In Australia there’s a popular gardening product called ‘Weed and Feed’. A few years back, a cheaper import called ‘Feed and Weed’ hit the market.

  13. jcs says:

    Re: Store brands.

    In some cases, store brands are the relabeled versions of the name brands. The factories quality-check each batch of product. The products with lower quality are labeled as the store brand, and the higher quality products are labeled as the name brand.

    In other cases, store brands are prepared by a company that specialized in "generics". A single factory might produce the same product for a dozen different stores.

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