‘The Interview,’ Sony Pictures, North Korea And Why It Does (Or Doesn’t) Matter

Retail breaches are not on the same scale as an incident with a nuclear power.
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Retail breaches are not on the same scale as an incident with a nuclear power.

While watching “The Daily Show” last night, an ad for Sony’s “The Interview” aired. This was on the day that Sony announced it was pulling the film from distribution; that sources were cited saying the North Korean government was behind the breaches at Sony; and that the U.S. government said it was considering “a range of options” in dealing with this mess. 

Why should we care?

Unless you have a stake in Sony Pictures, or work in an industry that has an international footprint, or have been working frantically in retail and were looking forward to a day off on Christmas to catch the movie, why worry?

Most of us work, in some way or another, in a retail environment or in product sales, marketing or development.  Our work doesn’t usually offend someone, especially a foreign government.  And, should we “offend,” it is more likely an annoyance or a competitive parlay, not something worthy of a global threat.  Right?


Sure, some retailers have seen some massive security breaches, of customer information, credit card numbers, and such.  But those crises, however severe, are not on the scale of an international incident with a nuclear power.  So they cannot be compared to the Sony-Korea situation, can they?


So why should we care?

Because, at the core, this affects the general public — our customers.

Americans may or may not go to the local movie house on Christmas day because of or in spite of this, but it is in their consciousness, as it should be in ours.  Anything - I’ll say that again, anything — that has even the slightest impact on a consumer engaging in a transaction for entertainment purposes impacts what we are about. 

The coming days, weeks and months will show if this bizarre series of events will have a noticeable impact on sales and bottom lines and that oft-mentioned calculation of “consumer confidence.”  It may drive sales of smart TVs, Blu-ray discs and streaming devices should Sony eventually decide on a direct release. Or it may be nothing more than a blip on the radar.

This time.

We won’t close our retail stores.  We won’t stop distributing  our products.  We won’t halt development of the next generation of consumer electronics offerings.  And there is a very good chance that all this was nothing more than fodder for news websites and 24-hour channels to discuss, dispute and posture over.

But if you think about it, this is a paradigm shift — a strange confluence of technology, international politics, fear-mongering and a further reminder that we don’t live in the world that we were told we would grow up in. Tomorrow is going to be different than yesterday.

But we know that, don’t we?

The fact that a movie — which wasn’t getting great advance reviews, by the way — has been pulled from release, and that a foreign government sent our entertainment industry into a tailspin, is a thing we should pay close attention to.

Tomorrow will be different than yesterday.

But it always is, isn’t it?

I’ll see you at the movies.

John Rice is a writer, video producer, marketing consultant, TWICE contributor, and principal of Komedia Group.


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