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Did Sacha Baron Cohen’s Oscar stunt backfire? Find out in this week’s episode of “Future of Engagement”!

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

This is a guest post by Murray Newlands. Murray is the CEO and founder of Influence People, an online marketing firm based in San Francisco.

To promote his film “The Dictator,” Sacha Baron Cohen arrived at the Oscars clad in a white Gaddafian suit and pinned with medals he most certainly didn’t deserve. He was a mixture between the stereotypical Latin American and Middle Eastern two-bit dictators, Army colonels who led coups and became iron-fisted rulers of Third World non-nation states. While the media expected “Aladeen” to visit the Oscars and draw attention to himself, they did not expect him to go so far as to spill fake ashes (which Cohen claimed belonged to Kim Jong Il) onto reporter and TV personality Ryan Seacrest. Although Cohen succeeded in advertising his film, did he go too far from a marketing perspective? In this episode of “Future of Engagement,” I explore the social media response to this stunt, and whether marketing stunts in general work.



  • In-character as Aladeen, Cohen announced he’d crash the Oscars beforehand, which helped ensure coverage since the media was already expecting him to do a stunt.
  • He covered a reporter in ash so the media was all but forced to cover it, and this reminded people about Cohen whenever they saw the reporter later on in the awards.
  • But social media responses were almost equally split between positive and negative responses.

Graph by Alerti Social Media Monitoring and Management:

This Alerti graph looks at what and where people were sharing about the terms “Sacha Baron Cohen” and “Dictator.”