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The Expelled Challenge

Ben Stein’s movie of imagined victimisation Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed comes out in April. In order to promote it, the website GetExpelled.com is offering what Wesley Elsberry called “a kickback to school administrators” in order to send students to see the movie.

Your school will be awarded a donation based upon the number of ticket stubs you turn in (see submission instructions in FAQ section). That structure is as follows:

  • 0-99 ticket stubs submitted = $5 per ticket stub
  • 100-299 ticket stubs submitted = $1,000 donated to your school
  • 300-499 ticket stubs submitted = $2,500 donated to your school
  • 500 ticket stubs submitted = $5,000 donated to your school

Each school across the nation will be competing for the top honor of submitting the most ticket stubs with that school having their $5,000 donation matched for a total donation of $10,000!

As Wesley points out, at the upper end of the scales, they are paying schools $10 a ticket, which is far more than the ticket price in most areas. In addition, they encourage schools to make the trip mandatory, taking children out of class to send them to see the movie.

Q: What’s the best way to get our school families to come out to the movies?

A: In speaking with Christian Schools, we’ve found that hosting a school-wide “mandatory” field trip is the best way to maximize your school’s earning potential. Send a field trip home with your middle school and high school students, have each child pay for their own ticket, then collect the stubs at the door once you get to the movie theater. With this model, you also will be able to benefit from the ticket stubs purchased by parents who choose to come as well.

They are only offering this for stubs mailed in within the first two weeks that the movie is running (in any given area). The point of this? Presumably, to game the movie ratings. It would suggest that the people behind the film are very worried that no one will bother to see the movie. On the other hand, it may be a way of dealing with reluctant cinema owners – a way of guaranteeing them audiences so that they will actually run the film. This may explain why the websites says “money is limited, sign up now”. This would allow them to ensure reluctant cinema operators that they will have an audience.

The whole system of moving money around is also interesting. The simple way to do this would be to supply tickets to the school for free, and let the schools charge the parents. That way the schools could decide how much money they wanted to make off the venture. It would certainly be cheaper for the promoters – all they would have to do is reimburse the cinema operators for the operator’s share of the ticket proceedings. It seems rather unfair to put the burden on the parents – the cinema operators get their money, the schools get their money, Ben Stein gets to give away some more of his money…but the parents have to buy full-price tickets, and the children have to miss school time to have their heads filled with dishonest crap. Not a good deal for parents or children.

“For more information” an email address is supplied: ___@groundforcenetwork.com. Obvious question – who is Ground Force Network? Their web site describes them as a “word f mouth” marketing network. They appear to rely on volunteers to do their promotion – in exchange for running a promotional booth for “Expelled”, volunteers will be able to “[attend] the event at no costs” (i.e., the one at which they are promoting the movie) and “receive tickets to see the film when it releases and other cool movie merchandise”. Sign me up! Can you imagine – not only do you get to work without having to pay for the privilege, you also get tickets to see a propaganda film and “merchandise” (read: become a walking billboard).

Finally, one more interesting observation. While Ground Force Network describes themselves as

Groundforce Network (GFN) is a charter member of WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association) and adheres to a high set of standards. To read these values, please go to http://www.womma.com/ourvalues.htm.

I can’t find any mention of them on the WOMMA member directory. I’m guessing they’re somewhere on that page, but under a different name. It is a brilliant business plan – set up a (for profit, presumably) marketing company that taps into the volunteer spirit that churches are good at cultivating. Brilliant!

Update: Of course, I missed the obvious point of all this: intelligent design isn’t religious, is it?  (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

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3 Responses

  1. […] post by Further thoughts Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  2. As someone else noted:

    1) “Mandatory field trip”

    plus

    2) “Students pay for their own tickets”

    plus

    3) The school gets paid for arranging it all

    is a recipe for some pretty pissed off parents!

  3. […] Top Posts Thought police in Arizona?A remarkable new palm from MadagascarTangled Bank #102Rethinking the way we study ecological successionThe Expelled Challenge […]

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