Dear CMO:

Just a short note today before I hit the road about this weekend’s biggest hit, Snakes on a Plane, and what it means for your branding. No, I have absolutely no intention of dissecting the ‘return on internet buzz’ metrics that thousands of my erstwhile peers and associates are lathered up about. Suffice it to say that SoaP has delivered the largest box office returns ever for a movie about snakes on a plane. That, in and of itself, is victory enough.

What’s the SoaP lesson today? The original name of the movie was something along the lines of “Trans Pacific Flight 257”. Apparently, Samuel L threw a righteous fit (did you see Pulp Fiction? That kind of fit) and got it named correctly.

How many companies — especially dot coms! — love to name themselves things that the average consumer can’t figure out? Isn’t this funny? If your web 2.0 venture backed paradigm shifter is called “Click Here” and is spelled,, my friend, you’re screwed. And yet it happens every day.

There’s something very, very beautiful about Snakes on a Plane. Hey! Want to go see a movie? Let’s see “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”! What’s it about, you ask? It’s about all those zany characters you meet surrounding a murder trial in Charleston, of course, I answer. Oh. Got it. Hey! Let’s go see Snakes on a Plane! Guess what it’s about!

You know, an old direct report once said that when they make the movie, Samuel L. Jackson should play me. I always thought Chow Yun Fat would capture me better. Nicholas Cage apparently looks the most like me, with a close second to William Hurt. But as he will clearly be played by Ben Stiller, I don’t listen to him too carefully.

The short and sweet of it, dear CMO, is this. And it’s obvious. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes it’s OK not to be too clever. Snakes on a Plane is not clever. And everyone who really wants to see this movie will see it.


Copyright (c) 2006 Stephen Denny