Snapchat, Ouija, and the Death of Interruptive Advertising

Courtesy of Platinum Dunes, Hasbro, Blumhouse Productions, and Universal Pictures

Courtesy of Platinum Dunes, Hasbro,
Blumhouse Productions, and Universal Pictures

Ouijia, while not the worst movie in the world, is far from being the best: it sheepishly admits to an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 4.5 stars out of 10 on IMDB. I mean, the movie’s based on a faux-supernatural board game. Stupid, right? WRONG. Ouija serves as an excellent example of a film that’s highly attuned both to itself and to its audience.

First of all, the people behind this film knew exactly what kind of movie they were making: a fun, dumb horror film. For proof, look no further than one of its two taglines, “Some call it a spirit board. It has existed for centuries. It is used to communicate with the other side.” It doesn’t get more on the nose than that.

With the demographic for this type of film fairly well-defined (young with cash to spend), the marketers behind Ouija threw themselves into the world of social media, leveraging the Halloween season and self-awareness to make a splash on Twitter and Facebook.

But Ouija’s true genius lay in aligning with Snapchat for the latter’s first ever ad. While walking home from the grocery store one day, I pulled out my phone to check my notifications* and saw I had gotten a Snapchat from my friend Molly. Since I was already in the app, I went to its home page to check out other peoples’ stories.

There it was. Snapchat’s first ever ad. And it was for Ouija.

Like most other Millennials, I have a special respect for people who don’t take themselves too seriously, so I opted to watch the quick trailer. Did I end up seeing the movie? In truth, no. But every marketing choice Ouija made fostered my goodwill for the brand, which is still incredibly valuable from a long-term perspective.

More incredibly, I chose to watch this ad for nothing in return because it was there. So much of what we do on our smartphones is motivated by little more than “I have a free moment, two hands, a phone, and the undeniable urge to troll.” Though it may not be the most prestigious of declarations, Ouija’s alliance with Snapchat marks the beginning of the end of interruptive advertising. And I for one am glad because…

…it’s just lazy.

*Or avoid eye contact with every human being I have passed. You make the call.