Channing Tatum is a popular guy. So popular, in fact, that the mere rumor of him starring in a movie that isn’t even being cast yet, gets the internet discussion machine churning in high gear. At a recent appearance, the Magic Mike and GI Joe star was asked about a rumor that he might be tapped to play “Gambit” in an upcoming X-Men movie. Now, the question was mainly meant to drum up PR for the soon to be released Days of Future Past X-movie.

 But, the four-minute chat did much more than that. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, said it exposed exactly how a juicy rumor can help a brand make market decisions based on the PR response. Without anyone either confirming or denying that a contract offer was in place, or any decision had been made at all, fans across the world launched into an ongoing and colorful discussion of whether or not Tatum is right for the part.

 Again, no offers had been made so BOTH interested (or not interested) parties, director and star alike, could easily bow out if public opinion wasn’t going their way. Because, not only did Tatum’s name come up endless times in the discussion, those who were anti Channing-as-Gambit also made it abundantly clear who they might want instead.

 With ample time before any decisions have to be made, and even more time before the movie has to be promoted, directors and producers can move forward with a clearer idea of what fan response would be. Plus, the star can avoid a career misstep associated with playing the “wrong” role.

While this method is far from foolproof, brands can use it in conjunction with other marketing research to help them learn things about potential brand releases or updates they may not already suspect.