On February 17th 2017, the movie A Cure for Wellness is released in the United States – a psychological horror about a man sent to a remote “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps to retrieve his company’s CEO. However the man soon learns that the treatments are not all what they seem to be.
What may set this film apart, however, is that the promotional campaign being orchestrated is capitalising on a subject that has been dominating headlines for many months now; fake news.
If you’ve been hearing about strange headlines relating to “Trump Depression Disorder”, “Trump Refuses California Federal Funds amidst Natural Disaster” and “Trump and Putin Spotted Together at Swiss Wellness Spa”, then it appears these fake stories have all been published online to promote the A Cure for Wellness movie.
A small network of spoof websites – including The Sacramento Dispatch (sacramentodispatch.com) – The NY Morning Post (nymorningpost.com) – The Houston Leader (houstonleader.com) – The Indy Gazette (indygazette.com) and Salt Lake City Guardian (saltlakecityguardian.com) – [all registered in January 2017] have all published the same (or similar) articles that contain certain references to the movie.
For example, the fake claim published on Sacramento Dispatch that President Trump refused California federal funds to help them recover from the recent dam leak in Oroville, contains the hashtag #CureForWellness, despite being out of context from the rest of the article.
Another article published on this network of spoof sites claims that Trump and Putin were spotted together at a wellness resort – and this article takes things a little further by including characters from the horror movie in the fake news article itself (in this case, a character called Lockhart.)
All the spoof websites also contain an article that claim many moviegoers experienced panic attacks during the screening of a soon-to-be-released horror movie named… you guessed it … A Cure for Wellness.
The spoof network of sites also appears to include a fake “wellness website” at healthandwellness.co that also publishes the same fake news articles as well as an article on “Trump Depression Disorder” which – according to the fake article – has just been formally recognised by the American Medical Association (it hasn’t, really.)
Needless to say, all these spoof websites also contain a plethora of adverts for the movie too.
The A Cure for Wellness movie has previously used a spoof pharmaceutical advert during the SuperBowl as part of its promotional campaign.
Many marketing teams have turned to the Internet to create viral marketing campaigns (perhaps most notably the Blair Witch Project) but this is the first marketing campaign that has included setting up a network of fake news websites, at least that we know of.