Was James Franco’s recent scandal just a marketing ploy?

Actor James Franco has been a victim of criticism this week for flirting with an underage tourist, but could it be that it was just to promote his new movie?

Franco, 35, was caught flirting with a 17-year-old girl after connecting with her on Instagram. After asking for her number, the two began texting when Franco asked if he should get a hotel room for them to meet in.

Franco's text conversation has been leaked on image sharing site Imgur

Screenshots of Franco’s text conversation were leaked on Imgur.

Coincidentally, the trailer for Palo Alto, a film adaptation of Franco’s book of short stories, debuted right after the scandal. The movie features Franco starring as a high school soccer coach who seduces a student.

The similarities between Franco’s role and his real-life situation sparked speculations that this could all be some kind of a publicity stunt.

However, Franco admitted on a recent appearance on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” that the incident was just a result of his bad judgment.

“I guess I’m just a model of, you know, how social media is tricky,” he said. “But what I’ve learned I guess just because I’m new to it is like, you don’t know who’s on the other end.”

Franco also admitted that he is “embarrassed” and he has “learned his lesson.”