Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby hit theaters last weekend, and even though it’s only a movie, it feels as if someone took an over-sized needle and injected my life -- and everyone else’s -- with a very large dose of Gatsby. Everywhere I turn, Gatsby is there.
On twitter, I was surprised to see someone had retweeted a tweet from Jay Gatsby -- the fictional, main character -- who currently has six twitter accounts, one with a follower count approaching 83,000. Walking down the street is like engaging in a nation wide book club, every few yards you’ll find a woman frantically poring over F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel to be sure she completes it before the book meeting (aka watching the movie). In the span of a three day trip last week, I spotted these book club participants in the Atlanta airport, in middle-of-no-where Lewisberg, PA, and even in the busy streets of New York City.
The soundtrack cannot be escaped either. I’ve heard the apparent theme song, “Young and Beautiful,” by Lana Del Ray more times in the past two weeks than I’ve heard all other songs combined (okay, slight exaggeration, but that’s what it feels like). Before the movie gained publicity I had never heard of Lana Del Ray, and now instagram pictures of her album cover with the caption, “bumping to my girl Lana on this drive home,” are popping up on my news feed. There is even a variety of The Great Gatsby t-shirts available for purchase.
The Great Gatsby is not simply a movie, it is a cultural phenomenon. But why is society so saturated with this movie release? The answer is social media. The rapid development and widespread use of social media has changed the way an audience receives a new movie by placing marketing power in the audiences’ hands. Once the release date is set, the interested audience builds the movie hype through their own excitement. People start to see others they’re connected to endorse the movie by sharing about it, so they decide to trust their peers’ judgement and spread the conversation. The growing movie supporters took it upon themselves to engage in the book, to listen to the soundtrack, to make movie-themed clothing, and to create six twitter accounts for Jay Gatsby. Although slightly ridiculous, it’s all still spreading awareness of the movie through both social and word of mouth channels. Ultimately, the public is responsible for the movie’s societal buzz.
Today, social media presents the potential for everyone to be a movie promoter. Just as social media is rapidly evolving, it is also changing the way things once as simple as movies affect society.
In passing, I overheard one man mention to his girlfriend, “The Great Gatsby is going to be the hit of the summer.” Whether that’s true or not, the hype of the movie alone makes it a success. It looks like Jay Gatsby owes his greatness to the influential web of social media.
Author: Piper Donnelly is our Summer Editor, Word-Smith and Communications Connoisseur here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.