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Treasures From The Wreck of the Unbelievable Real? | No, It's a Fake Documentary

Is Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable Real Or Fake? 

No, Netflix's Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable was faked by Damien Hirst in order to promote his art. A big long commercial, that cost 65 million dollars to produce. There should be a petition to Netflix to tell its viewers that it is one long commercial. 

How Does It Feel To Be Tricked By A Mockumentary?

Once you realize that Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is not real but a big fake promotion, it's a big disappointment. Like many others who were excited and enthralled to see golden sun disks craned out of the ocean by "scientists", it's a HUGE let down, of ultimately proportions to realize that Damien Hirst duped us all, with Netflix as his accomplice.  

Where Did The Treasures Come From?

So, it apparently took artists Hirst some ten years to make all that Egyptian style art that was supposed to look like it was pulled up as sunken treasure. The bigger question is when did he plot his scheme to create the mockumentary in the first place? Was it only after the art really wasn't selling, and he had to think of a PR stunt to crank up the sales? Or was it a part of a plan that unfolded over a decade, and that's how long a sophisticated deception takes?

Mockumentary As a Tool of Outrage And Marketing

Celebrity promoter Shep Gordon (watch Supermensch) has nothing on Hirst, even with his Alice Cooper chicken getting ripped up by an audience stunt. Gordon's tricks are half baked compared to the ten ton golden rabbit Hirst pulls from the bright blue waters of some "African coast", while poor fisherman watch the so-called scientists haul all their booty off to some art house for auction, yeah right. So you, can see there are holes in this fake documentary. 

What You Should Have Noticed, Or Not Noticed

If you were fooled by Hirst's slippery little PR feat, then you missed a lot that should have been clues to this film being a fake. Can we say it was as bad as fake news? Often there are no clues when fake news comes out, but here are the clues to watch for if you see it again: 

  1. everything was too perfect
  2. the treasures that came up from the deep were too perfect
  3. the treasures looked too modern
  4. some of the treasures surely could not have been carried so easy by an ancient ship
  5. there were obvious fake arts that were featured in the gallery.

How Much Money Did Hirst Make From This Stunt?

As of last November, the exhibit had made 330 million (reference); subtract that from 65 million and it's already made a profit of 265 million, and counting!

Feedback & Thoughts From Marketers

"There have been some quite successful mockumentaries out there. There is usually a set of rules to them, though. Think of them as a Saturday Night Live skit. The actors play it straight, yet they know it's a joke. Better yet, they're letting the viewer in on the joke as well. And that's the key. Classics like "This is Spinal Tap" and shows like "Arrested Development" are well-loved. It's all because everyone is in on the joke of a mockumentary. When people aren't in on the joke, like with "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable", that feeling of believing and being duped creates a negative experience for the audience. It's effective, but only once, and briefly at that."

- RaShea Drake, B2B Marketing Analyst at Verizon Business

"In most cases a mockumentary is not a great option to pursue. The reason its not always a great option, is because of how it could negatively impact your company based off of the people that you would made to feel like patsies. On the other hand, referring to the mochumentary "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable" I would say the idea was genius. I believe the difference to be the fact the Damien Hirst, who was the mastermind behind the mockumentary was marketing specific products and not so much a company, so it really didn't hurt him to ruffle any feathers and it paid off."

- Clayton Coombs, marketer for The Advocates

Mockumentaries are an effective promotional technique as they are funny, easy to spread and gain virality. It has worked very well for Treasures of the Unbelievable as he has already made well $200 million now from art that was not selling well before. The only issue I would point out is the creators should make it clear it is a mockumentary up front so the audience is not confused, which it is not clear if was done for this mockumentary.

"Mockumentaries are not so different from in-film placements, if mentioned upfront that it's a mockumentary. I think it's a wonderful idea to showcase the products in the context of their use or in a setting which flatters them. There is nothing wrong with making an engaging mockumentary. Like there are TV commercials that are engaging and liked despite being a product promotion (e.g.this Thai Life Insurance ad or the My father is a liar commercial by Metlife . 'Guerrilla marketing in video form' could be another way to look at a mockumentary- you surprise the audience with your products popping up...To get the maximum benefit out of a mockumentary, mention upfront that it's that. So people can enjoy it, fully in the know. Even the US Government used films subtly during World War II for propaganda. That can be thought of as a mockumentary which were successful and did not have backlash for the brand (in this case, the Government)."

Jinal Shah, If I Were Marketing


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