MoviePass Marketing Tries to Win Back Customers with Cute Puppies

Nov 13, 2018

Everybody loves cute puppy pictures.

But even the most precious pooch photo is no consolation for a brand that constantly slashes its offering and changes what customers can expect in exchange for their hard-earned money.

It’s a lesson the MoviePass marketing team learned the hard way this week.

The movie theater ticket subscription service made headlines when it lowered its price to just $9.95 a month for unlimited access to movies in theaters. In markets like Philadelphia, that’s less than the cost of a single movie ticket.

It turns out the price that seemed too good to be true was just that. The company started losing money at an unsustainable rate.

It made a number of tweaks to its pricing plan, from scaling the subscription back to just three movies a month to raising the price to $14.95. Customer satisfaction took a massive hit in the process. Meanwhile, the media pummeled the company over all the changes and attempts from its parent company to halt a declining stock price.

MoviePass’ marketing in the doghouse

To make matters worse, the company hasn’t effectively communicated with its customers when it comes to these changes. That critique reached new levels this week with a company email. It was sent from Chloe, MoviePass’ “Director of Barketing,” acknowledging the “ruff” experience customers have had.

The digital marketing strategy was not well received by customers or the media.

Deliver not-so-good news with transparency and visibility

Most brands don’t make a point of calling out when they’re reducing value for customers (we don’t remember getting emails about more commercial breaks on TV or smaller seats on airplanes).

When companies do have to raise prices or pull back on an offering, clearly and directly communicating these changes to customers is key. Netflix botched its message to customers when it split its DVD and streaming services. CEO Reed Hastings eventually issued an apology.

Now, MoviePass seems to be making a similar mistake, hiding behind a cute dog when the message calls for transparency and visibility from the company leader.

Long Story Short: It’s one of the oldest marketing mantras on the books. Your brand can giveth, but never taketh away. Breaking that rule with customers can be a real … female dog.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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