Blue Steel: Snapchat’s Magnum Opus?
Snapchat has just had a shadow cast over it by one man, and five syllables. Der-ek Zoo-lan-der. Yup, the really, really, ridiculously good looking male model is back, and this time he’s bringing a billion (or so) friends.
Last year Snapchat introduced “lenses”, which use fancy face-mapping tech, made by someone far smarter than myself, to allow users to see what they’ll look like at 75, bawl their eyes out (not necessarily related to the aforementioned lens), and puke rainbows. The latest addition: a Zoolander No. 2 lens, just in time for the sequel’s release.
Since its inception, Snapchat has surmounted countless naysayers. First it was those who said it would only be used by shamelessly horny teens to send nude selfies back-and-forth. Next, when it started to gain a serious foothold in that same highly-sought-after demographic of (to be fair, probably still shamelessly horny) teens, people said it was a fad and couldn’t possibly compete with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In the interest of full-disclosure, I used to fall somewhere between those two opinions. Snapchat has since proven them, and me, wrong at every turn. After reportedly turning down as much as a $4 Billion buyout offer (from Facebook itself), it has continued to improve and reinvent itself time and again.
Today, arguably the best thing Snapchat does is serve as a storytelling platform, which, thankfully, means that it can, itself, unfold stories of events better than anyone else in the game. It’s making such waves that Instagram has recently tried to ape the feature with its own in-the-moment stories. The social media marketing world has been staring idly at the relative newcomer for some time, trying to figure out how they can use it effectively. The answer, if you have a shitload of money, may have been in the computer this whole time. Their brand new lens is a Zoolander No. 2 filter that makes even yours truly look so hot right now. The beauty (sorry) of all of this? Fans share their own takes on one of the movie’s most iconic moments (Blue Steel), spreading it far wider than if Ben Stiller had hopped on a tour bus and hit every late-night talk show in America.
“You just can’t buy that kind of exposure.” Well… OK, that’s exactly what you can do. There’s no doubt that getting Snapchat to include the Zoolander No. 2 lens cost a pretty penny (in 2015, the Peanuts movie spent an estimated $750K for a similar feature), but when you consider that a 30-second TV spot during Super Bowl 50 cost $5 Million, suddenly that becomes a drop in the bucket when you’ve got your own audience spreading your message for you.
Ads work best when they add value to a story. Sponsored lenses and other user/customer-centric campaigns are hopefully a sign that brands are getting better at creating content so seemingly organic that we no longer notice or, at least, no longer care that we’re being sold.
*Written at a pub over a few pints of Guinness and an unsolicited (but welcomed) shot of Jameson. (Yes, I’m a caricature of an Irishman)
Think I’m overly optimistic about product placements? I’ll accept challenges in the form of walk-offs. Find me, wherever I go on the Internet, at @effdotlowry.
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