Google goes Hollywood with 'The Internship'
By Ronald Grover and Alexei Oreskovic
LOS ANGELES/ SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - When "The Internship," a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, hits movie theaters on June 7, Google will be taking more than a little interest in how the film is received.
In an unusual collaboration, the Internet giant was closely involved with the film, a $58 million Fox production which features two middle-aged watch salesmen who are determined to get a job at Google.
Amidst the comedic hijinks, the film indeed delivers a picture of a kind and gentle Google, a company that offers free food and exercise classes and is in every respect the place you'd like to work. Various Google products get plugs in the film, and co-founder Sergey Brin gets a cameo role.
The favorable PR comes at an opportune moment for Google, whose unofficial motto is "Don't Be Evil" but which is often portrayed in far darker tones by privacy advocates, antitrust regulators and competitors such as Microsoft. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently began exploring a new set of antitrust allegations against the company, sources told Reuters last week.
"It's a good move. It's going to enhance and warm up Google's image perception," said former Coca Cola chief marketing officer Peter Sealey, who is an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University and worked as a consultant for Google seven years ago.
The movie is a far cry from the Hollywood experience of rival Facebook. The social networking kingpin did not collaborate with "The Social Network," which focused heavily on the conflicts between founder Mark Zuckerberg and his early partners and didn't make any of them look very good.
"Movies like this are always a risk," said Howard Bragman, a Hollywood publicist and vice-chairman of the Internet image-management firm Reputation.com. "They can be great for employee morale or they can drag it down."
Early signs suggest Google's gamble may pay off. The website Marketingland.com said the film was "A fun movie, but also a beautiful Google commercial." Continued...