The good and bad of Martin Luther King Day marketing

Re-releasing a movie that focuses on America’s racial history on the holiday seems just fine, but promoting clothing sales, mixed drinks, and twerk parties is ill-advised.

The movie “12 Years a Slave,” an Oscar favorite, reopens in theaters Monday. It’s no accident that the film about the racial history of the United States is coming back to theaters on Martin Luther King Day. In fact, the studio behind the movie, Fox Searchlight, is using it for promotion.

The reaction to the timing of the re-release and the studio’s accompanying video, which includes clips from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, has been positive. All the Facebook comments about it mention how great the movie was.

When it comes to MLK Day brand marketing, Fox Searchlight’s efforts seem to be the exception, not the rule. Quite often, it’s ill-advised.

Take, for example, Hennessy cognac’s press release issued this week in which it touted “Mixed Drinks MLK Jr. Would Be Proud Of.” LA Magazine quotes the release:

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