The highly anticipated Social Network movie is finally out and is causing a PR storm as it doesnt exactly paint Mr. Facebook in the most positive light.
While the movie itself has received positive reviews, and is projected to pull in the revenue and garner a lot of attention, one question that has been posed is how this movie will ultimately affect Facebook, and whether or not the negative portrayal of Zuckerberg will have any ill effects for the business end of the social network.
Months before the movie hit our screens, speculation was rampant about how Facebook and its founder would fight back against a heavily marketed film based on a controversial book that paints him in an unflattering light.
Zuckerberg chose not to hire a crisis PR team, instead employing a counter-strategy created by his company’s internal corporate communications group and Outcast, its usual PR agency.
A decision was made that Zuckerberg, fearful of how his reaction might further fuel interest in the movie, would not publicly slam the film. Instead, Facebook put forward friends like Chris Hughes, a company co-founder who left in 2007 to join the Obama presidential campaign, to challenge the depiction of Zuckerberg in an August story in the New York Times.
Several other high profile media appearances have taken place recently including profile pieces in New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazine in the battle to portray Zuckerberg and others in a much better light.
When pressed about the movie at public functions, Zuckerberg has playfully dismissed it as “fiction.” But he has been careful not to seem too peeved by it or to attack director David Fincher or screenwriter Aaron Sorkin; Zuckerberg even cited Sorkin’s The West Wing TV series as one of his favorites.
“The second thing was to make sure people know we think it’s fiction,” Yu said. “Whenever Mark is asked about it, he makes sure to say that.”