Mobile Marketing Snakes on a Plane

Yesterday I received an unexpected message on my cell phone. It was actor Samuel L. Jackson shouting in my ear demanding me to go see Snakes on a Plane, the new movie he's starring in that's about—what else—snakes on a plane. He made a point of telling me to catch it on its opening day, August 18, with my home girl Melissa.

I was a bit astonished that Jackson knew Melissa, or even knew that I worked in media, spent an inordinate amount of time on the Internet, and am so very into my hair. My surprise only lasted until I actually visited the Snakes on a Plane Web site, where I found that I could create one of these extremely personal cell phone messages myself.

From what I've read, this has been a successful advertising campaign for New Line Cinema. Over 1.5 million calls were placed during the first week the program launched. In partnering with VariTalk, a company employing cell phone viral marketing to garner the attention of consumers who have become harder to reach through traditional forms of marketing, the film company has been able to extend the Internet hype already surrounding the film.

Mobile music company Mixxer has also felt the snake bite with the launch of Snakes on a Phone, an Internet site enabling users to download and share ringtones, video clips, screensavers and user-generated content for free.

All of this reminds me of a recent FC Now post, where Tonya Garcia wrote about traditional media moving into the realm of real-world experiences that bring brands to life and create memorable impressions. She points to a recent Fast Company article that discusses advertising campaigns placed in urinals, above electic outlets at airports, and in parking lots. She also highlighted that US Airways would begin advertising on its barf bags.

And like her, I too wonder, when do these forms of advertising "cross the line from innovative to ill conceived or invasive?"

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  • Marc Spence

    Having my clients and co-worker being called from my business cell has caused monetary and emotional damage with the "snakes on plane" phone calls.

    Someone is makeing money at my expense. This is something I would like to see stopped thru legal action. I tried to have my number blocked on their website and cannot seem to stop this invasion of privacy.

  • Byron Webster


    We're over loaded, over whelmed, have been overpromised, and under delivered. Even if there is a new product worthy of our attention, the only way to break through these days is to deliver real value.

    I can't wait for the day when companies will take a step back and realize that this isn't a big safari hunt... targeting, capturing, closing. Advertising continues the hype cycle.

    This is about building a platform that is about the customer and her needs.

    I won't speak for others, but I get more than enough distractions in any given day. The last thing I need is more 'innovation' in how someone tries to sell me.

    Build something of value and make the experience remarkable, and the firm won't need to spend money in this way.

  • Hugo Macedo

    Yes! 6 years ago I've seen a barf bag with advertising (newspaper) - till today I keep it just to ilustrate 2 things:
    - how far we reached that we are not afraid to have our brand in a barf bag? We are probably just postponning the attention deficit that we are suffering.
    - he/she who sold that ad-space must be an incredible salesperson ;)

    But, focusing on the media: we the point is to find the next empty white space to put our logo, then we just postponning the no-blancs world and so just increassing the ad-messages proliferated world.
    OK, maybe we are seeking for more relevant and context based advertising - put the ad where will have a context and will be more relevant. But the more we are feeling manipulated the more we will reject it and will die

    So like Ries&Trout like to say: Don't try harder, try different.

    We need to follow a route where we will evolve comunication. 3directions:
    - PR based comunication
    - C2C comunication - recomendations, referals,...
    - Customer relation and cross-branding: brands that create relations and involve and recomend other brands

    in the mean time we will put more money where we see it working - fast & big impact - TV