Jesse Eisenberg’s Other Social Network
It appears that Jesse Eisenberg may have taught Columbia Pictures a thing or two about the power of a good social network. The production and distribution company has teamed up with foursquare to promote its latest film, 30 Minutes or Less, which stars Eisenberg and comedian Aziz Ansari. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the action-comedy fusion follows Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life becomes dangerously exciting when he’s kidnapped by two aspiring criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), who strap a time bomb to him and threaten to blow him up unless he robs a bank. Desperate, Nick enlists the aid of his estranged best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). The viral campaign allows users to check-in to thematically relevant businesses, such as pizzerias, banks, parks, and airports with the goal of unlocking the 30 Minutes or Less Badge. In a brilliant marketing strategy, users will also be greeted with the witty #Don’tBlowIt hash tag when they check-in to landmark locations such as the Washington Monument, Wrigley Field, and Grand Central Terminal. As an added incentive, once users unlock the badge they will be entered in the 30 Minutes or Less sweepstakes, and have a chance to win $3,000. In a press release for the campaign, Jonathan Crowley, Director of Business Development for foursquare Media Partnerships, states, "30 Minutes or Less is breaking new ground in reaching its target audience, engaging them directly in social media while they're out in the real world using foursquare. By connecting with them when they're doing the things they normally do – for example, presenting them with a hilarious tip while they're eating a slice of pizza – the studio is creating a relevant connection and drive awareness of the film."
Did Foursquare Get De-Friended?
More than just a viral marketing campaign, the partnership between Columbia Pictures and foursquare represents a new iteration of the alternate reality game, in which virtual check-ins lead to real-world discounts. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Having debuted a revamped notification system two weeks ago, which features comment capabilities, foursquare has been working hard to foster greater user engagement. Last month, foursquare debuted American Express Specials nationally, which allows users to link their Foursquare and AmEx accounts and have savings credited to their statements within a few days. However, they now face some serious competition in the daily deals business following American Express’ announcement of its Link, Like, Love Facebook platform, which generates custom deals for AmEx cardholders based on their Facebook likes and interests, as well as the likes and interests of their friends. As a Business Wire press release explains, “I a cardmember ‘likes’ Whole Foods Market on Facebook or has ‘checked in’ on Facebook Places, she may see a Whole Foods Market deal in her dashboard. If her friend has the Fox television show "Glee" as one of her interests on Facebook, she may see an exclusive experience for Glee the 3D Concert Movie on her dashboard.” Taking a hint from foursquare, AmEx has also unveiled GoSocial, a marketing tool for merchants that enables them to create offers for customers and track their performance. Vice Chairman Ed Gilligan remarked, "As we continue to transform our business in the digital space, we're focused on three key areas: value, relevance and user experience, for both cardmembers and merchants. Because of our unique business model -- our closed loop -- we're able to deliver on all three in a way that is unprecedented."
While Foursquare has grown exponentially in the past year, from 500,000 users to over 10 million, they simply can’t compete with Facebook’s 750 million. However, its game-like interface makes it the perfect choice for viral marketing. Additionally, as Google+ strives to outdo Facebook, Link, Like, Love may be exactly what Facebook needs to retain its iron grip on the social media market. It’s good to have friends, indeed.