Kenya Mejia's graduation speech included the usual go-out-into-the-world-and-make-it-a-better-place lines, but then came her final remarks.
"Finally, I was recently watching the trailers for the upcoming movie, 'I Love You, Beth Cooper,' about a valedictorian who confesses his love for the most popular girl in school during his graduation speech," she said during her address to Hamilton High School grads.
You see where this is going.
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Mejia continued, "It inspired me to make a little confession of my own. Given that it's the last day of high school, and not knowing what can happen, I cannot let this opportunity just pass by. So here is goes -- I love you Jake Minor."
Turns out, Mejia's inspiration was the $1,800 she received for mentioning the Twentieth Century Fox romantic comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper," and declaring her love for a classmate during her speech last month, The Wall Street Journal reported. The comments were part of a viral marketing effort to promote the film, which opened July 10, according to the WSJ.
A Los Angeles Unified School District official called a valedictorian's plug for a movie during a graduation speech "unfortunate."
"Obviously, this is not condoned by the district," Los Angeles Unified School District Local District 3 Superintendent Michelle King told the newspaper. "It's unfortunate."
"I Love You, Beth Cooper" opens with a valedictorian using his graduation speech to proclaim his feelings for the most popular girl in school. Fox and its consultants sought to recreate the scene at a real graduation in an attempt to build buzz for the movie, according to the WSJ.
The Intelligence Group, a marketing company that is a unit of Creative Artists Agency, asked members of a focus group to help find valedictorians. A friend of Mejia, who was part of the focus group, approached her with the company's offer of $1,000 to $1,500 if she would mention the movie by name and say its trailer inspired her to make her own confession of love, the newspaper reported.
Mejia accepted the offer.
"I really don't know what I was thinking," she told The Journal, describing herself as "like, the biggest introvert ever."
Twentieth Century Fox had another firm videotape the graduation speech in a style that emulated a home movie and posted a 67-second clip on YouTube to promote the film, according to The Journal.
The viral marketing effort fell as flat as a mortarboard. The clip drew fewer than 2,000 views more than a month after it was posted and the movie took in a $13.4 million domestically in its first three weeks, the newspaper reported.
Even with a day or two's worth of referrals from the WSJ.com, it's only up to about 10,000 views.
The fact that this story probably assists in the promotional effort isn't lost on us. So here's the made-to-seem-home-made home video.