There are lots of lessons to be learned from
I'm talking about the pre- and post buzz around the now legendary "Snakes on a Plane," featuring bad-a** and always talk-worthy Samuel Jackson.
Yes, I know, everyone's got something to say about this film, but I suppose I have an obligation (as "the buzz guy") to slither a few comments in.
Here's the quick background. Snakes on a Plane, or SoaP for short, received an unprecedented amount of online buzz, more that just about any movie this year. Bloggers were particularly vocal, spirited, and hyper-evangelistic about this campy-sounding movie.
But here's the rub: box office results, roughly $21 million after the first two weeks, and roughly $25 million to date, were so-so, according to most pundits. Some even argued the movie was a total bust.
How could that be? This was supposed to be the quintessential word-of-mouth marketing case study. After all, the pre-buzz left online digital trail of consumer generated media (CGM) that would make most prolific of blog spammers blush. This was a film for which the studio, New Line, invited consumers to "participate" in key marketing (even content) decisions. This was the movie where cool and quirky blogs like Snakes on a Blog, were unleashed across the Web, spilling over into traditional media coverage.
Did a garter snake show up at the box-office instead of a cobra? Or is the story more complex? Heck, are we even asking the right questions.
From Office Football Pool to Office Focus Group
Hungry for answers, I started reading the endless post-mortem blog stream, but eventually I turned toward another important resource: my fellow employees. After all, I work in a firm that butters its bread by measuring and analyzing buzz, listening to the "voice of the consumer," and drinking out of the fire hydrant of the seemingly unstoppable CGM flow. What emerged from my internal focus group was a refreshing list of great hypotheses, theories, data-points, and even conclusions about what happened with this movie. I'll start with the negative theories, then slither on to the more optimistic conclusions.
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Pete Blackshaw, whose professional background encompasses public policy, interactive marketing, and brand management, is executive vice president of strategic services for Nielsen Online, a combination of Nielsen BuzzMetrics, a firm Pete helped cofound, and Nielsen//NetRatings. One of Pete's key focuses is helping brands interpret, manage, and act on consumer-generated media (CGM). A former interactive marketing leader at P&G and founder of consumer feedback portal PlanetFeedback.com, Pete cofounded the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). He authors several blogs, including ConsumerGeneratedMedia.com, and is the author of an upcoming book from Random House, "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000: Running a Business in Today's Consumer-Driven World."
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