Boycott Watch
November 30, 2006
Did Michael Richards' Racist Rant Boosts DVD Sales Despite a Boycott?
Summary: Could this be a publicity stunt gone awry, yet he is still making money despite it?
    The controversy surrounding the recent racist rant by Michael Richards on a Los Angeles stage has resulted in many apologies, and Richards will probably never live it down. What is troubling to the Boycott Watch editors from a marketing standpoint is the question about what was intent, if any, by Richards in this rant? Let's examine the case from a marketing perspective.

   According to, Richards has been an actor since 1980, which is long before he was cast in "Seinfeld" in 1989. While he has not had many acting jobs recently, he is cast as a voice in "Cat Tale" which is scheduled for release in 2008, and his career has apparently stalled, and this controversy may result in Richards being dumped for that project. A voice job is nice for an actor, but after being a TV star, Richards probably wants and expects more.

   Since Richards has become synonymous with his Kramer character, he may have been typecast in the minds of the public and therefore may never be able to get another major acting job for a long time, if ever. Similar typecasting has occurred with other actors who were great in their roles, such as John Astin who played Gomez Addams and Bob Denver who played Gilligan.

   It is possible that Richards had originally thought about doing his racist rant as a publicity stunt on stage, but did not anticipate anyone in the crowd recording him using a cell phone. This is pure speculation, but Richards may have figured he had nothing to lose by getting some controversy to get his name I the news in order to change his Hollywood persona with the idea of claiming the crowd quoted him out of context. The plan, however, backfired because of the camera phone recording - Richards may have though no TV cameras mean nobody is recording thus he could deny the charge or claim people took his words out of context.

   One thing is for certain. The boycott calls against Michael Richards may have backfired, at least according to the "Seinfeld" DVD promoters. At the time of this posting, the "Seinfeld" Season Seven DVD set is number 12 on the top DVD list and has been reported to us as a selling more than previous season DVD's by the promoter and publisher. Boycott Watch has received other similar claims, which have mostly proven to be false, so we are waiting for the final numbers to be sure.

   Historically, movie sequels generally do not have as large of an audience as the original movie. With TV shows, the first season on DVD usually sells well and subsequent seasons sell less. In this case, the Boycott Watch staff believes most people would probably not want to give the latest "Seinfeld" DVD set as a gift this year as not to be seen as supporting racist character in the show, but we also believe die-hard fans will buy it for themselves despite the controversy. Just as ketchup fans do not like to change brands despite boycott calls, Richards racist rant may affect sales, but not by much because die-hard fans will buy all volumes of the show, for the show, and not because of one individual side character.

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