Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Now That's Some Good Digital Marketing

So tomorrow night I'm going to the new Samuel L. Jackson film Snakes on a Plane. Seeing as how I haven't gone to the movie theatre to see a movie since Christmas and have only rented one movie in the last year, this is a very special occasion.

I wouldn't have agreed to go now, particularly to such a cheesy-looking movie, had not I gotten an email with a link to a personalized Flash message from Samuel L. Jackson himself seeking to persuade me to go to the movie. He admitted that the title of the movie sounded stupid, which, I thought, was very humble and honest of him. He seemed almost to be making fun of the movie, in fact--which really seemed the only possible way to sell a movie such as Snakes on a Plane, if you ask me. It is at least partly in honor of his having struck just the right tone that I'm going tomorrow night.

To be serious, I am partly going to honor the wonderful job the marketers of the movie have done in promoting the movie. It reminds me of the perfect union of two strategies: the fill-in-the-blanks personalization game reminiscent of the Madlibs game from some of our youths and the beat-it-home repetition marketing strategy used for promoting movies and books throughout Europe (which I'll explain more in a second). Plus it helps that the message is distributed via more than one communications technology: you could get not just an email from Samuel L. Jackson, but also a cell phone call.

The reason the ad campaign reminds me of the European posters for movies and books in subway stations--in which the exact same ad is repeated in exactly the same way all over, making the viewer eventually either want to scream or rush out to see the movie/read the book--isn't that the ad is repeated exactly the same way. (It wouldn't be, seeing as how the ads are personalized.) The reason it reminds me of this strategy of marketing is the repetition within the ad of the name of the movie over and over, until you either want to scream or rush out and see the movie.

In this case, I'm choosing the latter option. I tell myself, as I'm sure the marketers intend me to, that I'm doing it for the kitsch value of it. But really I'm doing it to honor an excellent job of persuasion. I took "Persuasion and Propaganda" in my undergraduate years--I know a good job when I see it. I know people like me were the target of this promotion, and they did a great job of hitting their target, so, although I feel a bit guilty about it, I'm leaving my nine free library movies sitting at home and am digging a bit into my grad school budget to go see Snakes on a Plane. (Plus, Samuel L. Jackson has an amazing voice. And, well, he threatened my life if I didn't go to the movie.)

P.S. (Aug. 18, '06, 1:31 a.m.) I just got back from having coffee after the movie, and I must report: I haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time. I'm still not sure if I was laughing at or with the movie and in what proportions, but I don't think it matters. I think it helps to have very low expectations when going into it, and I think it also helped to have a crowd that cheered frequently. All I can say is, "Snakes on a plane, folks. Snakes on a plane." (By the way, I also appreciate the assonance in the title. I think it helps the comic effect considerably.) Not to give away any key plot points or anything, but there certainly was a plane. And there were snakes on it. Many of them. Multiple colors and sizes and breeds. So yeah, I think that's all I have to say. Well played, marketers of "Snakes on a Plane." Well played.

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