Snakes on the Plane: The Future of Marketing? Maybe.

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Consumer Generated Advertisement
One Example of a SoaP Consumer Generated Ad

Quick Summary
Raking in +$15m opening weekend (#2 spot), “Snakes on Plane” – a movie soley carried and even re-shot because of the blogosphere – is defining the power of blogs as it pertains to the movie studios. But SoaP is also a unique product, so the organic support via the blogosphere cannot be easily replicated by just any movie.

But at the same time, SoaP shows “Social Media Optimization” and highlights the need to embrace it. Instead of sending crease-and-desist letters for people making their own trailers and ads for SoaP, New Line Cinema embraced them, engaged them, invited them to screenings and talked to them.

Introduction: 5 Lessons Learned from SoaP
Jackie Huba over at the Church of the Customer, puts out a great post listing the 5 Lessons of the Snakes on the Plane (SoaP) blogosphere phenomenon. Read the whole post, but here’s an excerpt:

  1. Memes have never been more important.
  2. When fans embrace your meme, embrace your fans.
  3. The culture of participation is here.
  4. Embracing citizen marketers reduces risk.
  5. The experience is the difference between profit and failure.

The Results of SoaP and Blogs
Considering that Snakes on the Plane is a b-movie with a modest marketing budget, the opening weekend of SoaP is impressive, as reported by Viral Garden:

The production budget for SoaP has been set at anywhere from 30-36 million, depending on what source you go by. The marketing budget is another 2-10 million, again depending on what source you go by. That gets us to a cost of 32-46 million, with an opening gate of 15.3 million.

So that means that SoaP covered 33-48% of its cost on opening weekend.

In conrtast, a PG-13 rated movie called “Pacific Air Flight 121″ (the original rating and title) would probably have not faired so well. Without the blogosphere, there would be “No “Snakes on the Plane”, no gratuitous cartoony violence, no Samuel L. Jackson screaming “I’ve had it with these mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane!”. What kind of movie is that?

SoaP: A Unique Phenomenon
While the Church of the Customer is spot on on what lessons movie studios and marketers in general can learn, marketers should also remember that “Snakes on the Plane” is a unique product.

There are still ways of just throwing enough money at a bad movie to get a descent opening sales, but those days are waning. The blog-supported SoaP is not an alternative route to that. SoaP was embraced by the community because it was a wonderfully campy movie with a ridiculous plot. Indeed, the movie was concieved as a bet on purposely making a bad movie pitch.

Social Media Optimization Applied
Revisiting Rohit Bhargava’s “Social Media Optimization“, we see how SMO is in action for “Snakes on the Plane”. Here’s a some things I’ve noticed, but its not comprehensive:

  • Rule:
    #4 Help your content travel
    …Applied in:
    “Get a Call from Samuel L. Jackson” Mobile Phone Viral
    “Snakes Kit” Downloadable Audio, Movie Clips, etc for distribution
  • Rules:
    #7 Reward helpful and valuable users
    #3 Reward inbound links
    #5 Encourage the mashup:
    …Applied in:
    “Fan Site the Week” Feature (though could be improved)
    “Contest” – Vote for Biggest Fan
    Inviting bloggers in premiers with free Treos for live blogging
  • Rules:
    #12 Don’t forget your roots, be humble
    …Applied in:
    Via MMM: “SoaP director Dave Ellis stopped by Snakes on a Blog to personally thank all the fans for making the movie a phenomenon.”

2 comments

  1. Snakes on a plane¡¡Jackson¡¡is Cool…

    Jackson¡¡is very Cool. He always acts die hard character….

  2. […] is a great analogy for this. Once upon a time the movie Snakes on a Plane decided to launch an extremely innovative social media marketing strategy. When the internet buzz didn’t translate into box office revenue, many people jumped to the […]