Friday, September 16, 2011
The Classic Tease
Whether it was Flash Gordon in outer space or Gene Autry fighting bad guys, there was adventure and action and a cliff-hanger of an ending at the close of every episode.
Caught up in the plot, moviegoers returned week after week, just to find out how the story ended. What mattered to the film makers is that those people paid, week after week.
It's a classic marketing ploy called the tease. Give them enough to get their interest, then give a little more until they're hooked. They'll keep coming, buying tickets, and thus grow the profits.
Now Starbucks has engaged in a classic tease with the publishers of The Night Circus.
Customers were given a "free ebook", but when they reached page 330, they arrived at the fine print.
Just when the plot approached the climax, readers learned that what they were given was only a "sample", and to find out how the story ended (now that they were hooked), they'd have to purchase the entire book. Which meant they had to pay for the last 70 pages.
Or be left wondering what happened to the two magicians who star in the novel.
Naturally, some felt duped because they're too young or not enough of a film aficionado to recognize the classic tease, the use of the cliff-hanger to keep the money flowing towards the content provider. Starbucks has fielded complaints.
But in the end, sales of the book will be increased because enough people got hooked on the story and want to finish it. The publisher gave away only a part of the whole for free. If the hook works, they'll end up getting reimbursed for almost all the free content through book sales, and the author will share in the bounty.
It's all about grabbing control of eyeballs these days, beating out the competition for the entertainment dollar.
What's next? Free dishware given away with every ticket sold?
I know times are hard, but have we really reverted back to the marketing ploys of the Great Depression?