Twentieth Century Fox has issued an apology for a marketing stunt in which it created fake news sites to help promote its latest movie.
The sites featured fictional stories passed off as the real thing, one reporting that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin had met at a Swiss spa resort prior to the US presidential election.
There were also inflammatory stories about subjects including vaccination and abortion, which were also deliberately made up.
“In raising awareness for our films, we do our best to push the boundaries of traditional marketing in order to creatively express our message to consumers,” read a statement from the studio.
“In this case, we got it wrong. The digital campaign was inappropriate on every level, especially given the trust we work to build every day with our consumers.
“We have reviewed our internal approval process and made appropriate changes to ensure that every part of a campaign is elevated to and vetted by management in order to avoid this type of mistake in the future.
“We sincerely apologize.”
The campaign was denounced by both movie fans and marketing experts, one calling it ‘monumentally stupid’.
The movie, a psychological horror starring Dane DeHaan and Jason Isaacs, and directed by Gore Verbinski, is out on February 24.