Fox and New Regency are using fake news websites to promote their upcoming thriller, “A Cure for Wellness.”
According to Buzzfeed News, the campaign used five fake local news sites to promote the film directed by Gore Verbinski. While inserting references to the film into hoax stories, the fake news sites also hosted ads for the film and promoted a fake water brand linked to the film.
One such story was posted by Houston Leader, Sacramento Dispatch and Salt Lake City Guardian — they all reported that Donald Trump was spotted at a Swiss wellness resort with Vladimir Putin in June 2016, several months before Trump was elected as the new president.
The story ran under the headline, “BOMBSHELL: Trump and Putin Spotted at Swiss Resort Prior to Election.” An employee allegedly told the site, “I couldn’t, in good conscience, keep this information to myself. This is bigger than me, this is bigger than my job, and while I know I am very likely putting myself as well as my loved ones in danger of coming forward, I don’t know that I would have been able to live with myself had I kept quiet.”
The story, which can no longer be found on the website that now reroutes to acureforwellness.com, was dubbed as fake by Snopes.com. Another fake news story said Trump would be implementing a temporary ban on vaccinations. These fake stories were, ultimately, picked up by real news outlets that prompted huge engagement.
Indeed, Regency Enterprises and Fox confirmed to TheWrap that this was all part of a promotional campaign for the film that is hitting theaters this Friday.
“‘A Cure for Wellness’ is a movie about a ‘fake’ cure that makes people sicker. As part of this campaign, a ‘fake’ wellness site, healthandwellness.com was created and we partnered with a fake news creator to publish fake news,” 20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises said in a statement to TheWrap. “As our movie’s antagonist says, ‘There is a sickness inside us. And only when we know what ails us, can we hope to find the cure.'”
“A Cure for Wellness” is set in a mysterious spa in the Alps and follows a young businessman who goes there to find his company’s CEO, but soon discovers that the spa doesn’t deliver what is advertises. The film stars Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth.