Star Wars dub sends jobbing ad man into orbit

Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:09am EDT
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By Dave Graham

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters Life!) - Spend a couple of hours overdubbing a scene from Star Wars for a laugh, post it online, and you may end up with so many work offers that you'll wish you were in outer space. Just ask Dominik Kuhn.

Since Kuhn spent "two hours, at most" one morning redubbing a tiny part of the popular science fiction film and uploaded it onto video sharing website Youtube, marketing executives have flocked to hire him -- even though he was making fun of them.

What started out in 1977 as Darth Vader and the commanders of the Death Star discussing the threat from Luke Skywalker's rebel alliance had 30 years later become a boardroom dispute over an unnamed Stuttgart firm's new advertising strategy.

The two-minute clip "Virales Marketing im Todesstern Stuttgart" (Viral Marketing in Stuttgart Death Star) went on to rack up millions of hits online, turning Kuhn's life upside down, he told Reuters in the southern German city.

"People always said that stuff I did on the side was just bullshit. Now that bullshit is what I make a living from," said Kuhn, 41, whose previous career spanned everything from advertising to translating science fiction books.

Kuhn, a fan of English comic Ricky Gervais, describes "viral marketing" as "word of mouth marketing for the internet age" -- which also helps explain much of the video's success.

Within weeks of it appearing, Kuhn heard children quoting it in Stuttgart, where a major row over the city's train station is afoot. In a further echo, the opposition have accused the state government of using "the dark side of the force" in the dispute.

Job offers came flooding in, and the internet rags-to-riches tale was complete when Kuhn got his own television show. At length, he found he needed -- and could afford -- a year off.   Continued...

<p>German comic and advertising consultant Dominik Kuhn discusses the success of his internet video hit "Viral marketing in Stuttgart Death Star" October 12, 2010. Kuhn's two-minute German overdub of a scene from George Lucas' "Star Wars" became a sensation on video sharing website Youtube, earning the 41-year-old his own television show and countless offers of work. REUTERS/David Graham</p>