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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
'Fake fan' for Waking Ned
Ian Bannen
Waking Ned starred the late Ian Bannen
A film studio used one of its own staff to pose as a fan to promote a hit British film in America, according to a report in Daily Variety.

The news comes days after it was revealed a fake fan was used in a television advert for Mel Gibson's American revolution film The Patriot.

Variety says Fox Searchlight used one of its own staff to pose as a movie-goer in an advert for the Irish lottery tale Waking Ned.

Advertising chief assistant Caren Lipson was seen in the ad praising the 1998 comedy as "hysterical", alongside other fans.

Waking Ned, which starred the late Ian Bannen, told the story of an Irish village which set out to fool lottery officials so Ned Devine's winning ticket could be cashed in despite his death.

The news of the "fake" critic adds to the already tarnished reputation of film marketing in the light of Sony's admission that its own marketing staff posed as cinema-goers in an advert.

Marketing ploy

The company has also admitted creating a fictional movie critic's "quotes" on publicity material for several films including A Knight's Tale.

Sony has defended its use of fake fans, saying such marketing ploys were common throughout the industry.

Fox Searchlight has said that Waking Ned was released under a "different regime" and different staff.

The company has taken the unusual step of using complete reviews in its marketing campaign for Sexy Beast to win back the trust of cinema-goers.

Marketing president Nancy Utley told Daily Variety: "Waking Ned Devine was released under a completely different Searchlight regime, and the people responsible for its marketing are no longer here.

"We are disheartened that deceptive advertising practices eroded the public trust to an all-time low, forcing us to use full, unedited reviews to showcase the critical acclaim of a film like Sexy Beast."

See also:

05 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Disney and Sony lead worldwide takings
18 Jun 01 | Film
Sony admits fake fans on ad
07 Jun 01 | Film
Inquiry into fake film critic
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