Strike a pose: Learning from Zoolander

Featured-imageStriking a pose like the blue steel is not something that comes easy in the ever growing digital marketing scene. If there’s one that can pull it off it is, of course, Derek Zoolander, the mythical vain but good-hearted model brought to life by Ben Stiller 10 years ago in one of the greatest movies that the couple Stiller/Wilson ever realised.

Unless you lived in a cave for the last couple of months you know that Zoolander 2 will come next year. You probably witnessed, like all of us, the clever and fantastic way they announced the franchise comeback. In case you missed it, this is what happened.

Nobody was really thinking about Zoolander when, all of a sudden, a video started to pop up in Facebook’s feed all over the world: Zoolander and Hansel crashed the runway of Valentino during last Paris Fashion Week. And during the same walk, Zoolander took the phone of a guest and used it to film himself for a bit.

The internet broke.

Everyone went absolutely crazy about it. The video started to jump from Facebook to YouTube, getting up to a million views in a matter of days. Same story on Vine, because the guest was Jerome Jerre, Vine superstar. Everything was orchestrated to the last detail.

post-photo01What an example of fantastic social media marketing. At its best.

Let’s analyse it.

Zoolander is a beloved brand, one of those cases in comedy where the character transcends the movie he featured in. Ten years later they decide to make a sequel. It’s the digital era and they need to find a way to market it well. They decide to start beforehand to create the hype that one year later will bring people to the cinemas. They decide to try and go viral.

It’s about fashion, so they chose Paris Fashion Week.

They strike a deal with Valentino. They also chose Jerome Jarre as the ambassador to the youngest and ‘vinenthusiastic’ millennia generation users. These two names are enough to guarantee a certain amount of initial active exposure.

The internet did the rest.

Because it was unexpected, people started sharing the videos in question. “OMG I can’t believe it!” : a sentence usually proposed as a hook by Buzzfeed-like clever websites, became an honest claim for many of us, me included. They got our attention. Only afterwards they started posting more pictures and content, to keep users engaged and interested in Zoolander 2.

post-photo02What – as event professionals – can we take, from all this?

Everything stems from hype.

The taste of excitement is the strongest feeling that a marketer could summon in a prospective visitor. They must crave for the event, they need to be unable to wait for it.

Step 1: Prepare the content. We know that there are some things that works better than others online. In general comedy, uplifting and surprising content is the one most likely to become viral. Find the key surprising things about your event, focus on a funny way to announce them. Keep it relevant, but move away both from silliness and formalism. Aim for a ‘WOW’ rather than a ‘LOL.

Step 2: Setting up the channels. What the Zoolander 2 marketing team did was set up the surprise. They chose the right initial broadcast channels. YouTube and Facebook with Valentino, Vine and Twitter with Jarre. They used the Zoolander 2 Facebook page, that has been out for five years, ensuring the attention of hardcore fans. Of course Ben Stiller posted the video as well.

This ensured a specific amount of initial exposure. As an event professional, create a couple of partnerships with relevant influential referrals. Are there any “social media stars” in your field? If the answer is yes, get them on board. Then orchestrate the release with these referrals.

Step 3: Sit back and enjoy. The Zoolander 2 marketing team let the internet do the heavy lifting. The video was picked up by Vogue almost immediately, followed by other giants like Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and so on. Ensure that what you public is going to be shocking enough for the news companies of your specific industry. They will help making it viral. Make all your people tweet it and share it to their friends, but with the strongest most honest ‘OMG’ feel.

Step 4: Build on it. After the viral sensation of the reveal, the Zoolander 2 team started the ‘normal’ marketing campaign: regular posts and pics, articles and features, and so on. The exposure is maximised.

Zoolander 2 launch is a fantastic case of digital marketing. Creativity, cleverness and good marketing sense are the key factors here. If you follow this scheme you may not get viral as the blue steel, but I assure you that you will get the highest exposure your event announcement will ever get.


10013930_10152269201073818_870012439_nGuest post from Alessandro Valentini, Web Development Manager at Mash Media.

Digital expert, art director, pop culture fanatic, actor, singer, dancer, Italian and nerd to the core. Alessandro started his career in digital and web in 1999, three years after his first dance class and nine years after his first piano lesson.

He started organising events in performing arts in 2000, founded a fashion company in 2004, founded a hip hop dance movement in 2009, produced many music and theatre acts, all while working as digital and web project manager. Then he left it all to move to London and enjoy the crazy life.

You can follow Alessandro on Twitter @DancingAle or visit his website


What do you think #eventprofs? Where do you draw your inspiration from in marketing? Send us an email to with your thoughts, or tweet us at @weblogevents.

One comment

  1. Chris P

    ‘What is this, a venue for ants?!’ 🙂


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