Thursday, August 24, 2006

5 lessons for marketing media content

Snakes on a Plane: 5 lessons for marketers
"Snakes on a Plane" was the number-one movie this weekend, taking in $15.3 million. Some traditional media outlets that were so quick to trumpet months of unprecedented Internet buzz called the take "disappointing" and a "letdown."
Don't believe the hype. "Snakes on a Plane" was a first in many ways and if anything, proved that giving fans a stake in the outcome made the movie more successful than it would have been otherwise. (I saw it this weekend and it was pretty bad, but in a fun way, like "Rocky Horror" but without the singing.)
I think there are five key lessons to take away from what will always be remembered as the SoaP phenomenon:
1. Memes have never been more important. The simple and straightforward title was so unlike Hollywood films that fans took interest. Like a gene, a meme knows how to replicate itself. All of the instructions to copy it are inherently transmittable. "Snakes on a Plane" had all of the cultural transmitters necessary for it to easily sink into our cultural consciousness, which made it easy for DC Lugi and all of the other creative content creators to have fun with the concept. Social media means memes will spread faster than ever before. A name means everything if spreadability is the goal.
2. When fans embrace your meme, embrace your fans. Kudos to SoaP director David Ellis for acknowledging bloggers and fans. The studio didn't get medieval on them. They reached out to bloggers to thank them, invited them to promotional events, and finally invited many of them to the Hollywood premiere.
3. The culture of participation is here. Driven largely by the 20-something generation of Millennials, participation is what they expect. That's how they grew up and that's what they love. When Millennials and other meme-infected creative people are passionate about a product, idea or cause, they find the means to create and participate. Social media is their collaboration system. SoaP has proven that citizen marketers will help even the most niche-oriented product like "Snakes on a Plane" find an audience.
4. Embracing citizen marketers reduces risk. Launching a new product is betting against huge odds: Over 80 percent of all new products fail. New Line reduced its risk by listening to fans who wanted more snakes, gore and f-bombs. Making $15 million in one weekend is disappointing how? (Silly media.) If New Line hadn't listened to fans and released a PG-13 film called "Pacific Air Flight 121," chances are no one would have talked about it, and it would have been just another low-brow Hollywood movie.
5. The experience is the difference between profit and failure. SoaP was not just a film but a film-going experience. People dressed up, brought rubber snakes, shouted lines at the screen and had fun. All of the fan-created fun (and Sam Jackson's infamous, fan-created line) created an expectation of "we're in this together." (Read through these comments for first-hand reports from movie-goers.) It wasn't "Snakes on the Waterfront," but some people said it was the most fun they'd had at a movie in years. That's welcome news for an industry whose revenues keep declining. Before seeing SoaP on Friday night, I had not been to a movie in five months. The film industry's theater partners insist on ruining the experience by commercializing it to death. After sitting through 40 minutes of commercials for video games, the Army, Sprite, new TV shows and upcoming films, I won't return anytime soon.


Thanks also to Christy Dena;


Simon said...

Very interesting.

This is perhaps a throwback to Shakespeare when performing his plays to a rowdy audience only inches away, probably modifying them later after seeing how the audience react/heckle.

Anonymous said...

Love the info you gave here, nice thinkthrough on the way home from work :)