Popcorn, of course! This past weekend I went to see Notes on a Scandal starring a superb Judy Dench in the role of Barbara and the beautifully tormented Cate Blanchett as Sheba. The movie was being played at a local theater.
We were all sitting there waiting for the projection to begin when the usually suffused lights during the still publicity went full on and a young staff member called our attention. He was holding two small bags of popcorn is one hand and movie ticket stubs in the other. After getting our attention with a booming voice he stated:
"tonight we are raffling two small bags of popcorn for your enjoyment!"
And proceeded to call out out two of the numbers from the stubs. One of the two winners had already bought popcorn so another lucky patron was called out. You want to know what happened after he was done? Four or five people rushed out of the theater to go buy popcorn before the movie started. Suddenly, the movie was incomplete without the snack.
I just finished reading Made to Stick and remembered that in the beginning of the book, brothers Dan and Chip Heath tell the story of how Art Silverman of the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) used a visual to make the true story about movie popcorn stick.
"A medium-sized 'butter' popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theater contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings -- combined!"
The young staff member used the qualities from the book as well when he made his unexpected announcement that whet the audience appetite for the snack. That was a simple idea and it helped sell more. At the time we were not thinking about all the reasons why popcorn is a bad idea -- whether that be the rational 37 grams of saturated fat or the visual of it being the equivalent of nearly two days' worth. How could we resist the story of getting something for free? It pushed our "I want" button.