Tag Archives: tribes

How Avatar followed the Seth Godin playbook to $1B in 17 days

Last night I went to watch Avatar with my younger brother, Tim. The first theater was sold out so we yelled to everyone still streaming in and we all quickly drove to the next closest theater, 10 miles away.

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the film. There are no real spoilers below, just how Avatar followed Seth Godin’s marketing advice to create a blockbuster movie that has already grossed over $1 billion dollars worldwide in just 17 days.

1) Remarkable Matters


Seth Godin wrote Purple Cow in 2003. Those who read it and followed the advice have reaped rewards. Avatar is “remarkable”, defined by Seth simply as something worth remarking on. I’m not a huge moviegoer – maybe average or slightly below – but more than fifty people had remarked about Avatar to me, either in person or online. People whose opinion I respect raved about it on twitter.

I didn’t go see Avatar because I saw a great preview, commercial or billboard. I went because people I trust remarked on it.

When a product is remarkable, it markets itself.

2) In a world of unlimited choice, it’s more important than ever to be the best in the world


In The Dip, Seth Godin writes about strategic quitting and the importance of being the best in the world.

Most studios wouldn’t take a chance on making a $237 million film whose biggest star is Sigourney Weaver.

They did because the man behind the entire operation (writer, director, producer) is James Cameron, arguably the best in the world at what he does. His previous film, Titanic, was the largest grossing film ever – grossing $1.84 billion dollars, 68% more than Lord of the Rings at $1.13 billion.

You don’t have to be James Cameron, but you do have to be the best in the world at what you do (or one of the best). The good news is, you get to define the world. You could be the best plumber in Omaha, Nebraska. You could be the best hiking guide in Colorado. You could be the best blogger about coffee.

Define your world and then work to be the best.

3) Tribes

Titanic appealed to the tribe of history buffs. Avatar appealed to a few different tribes, but specifically to the science fiction tribe. Any self-identified member of the sci-fi tribe will see the movie and they will talk about it. Some will go with other members of the sci-fi tribe but many will bring friends and family.

Sci-fi was a specific tribe that Avatar reached.

4) Free Prize Inside


In Free Prize Inside, Seth explains the importance of “soft innovations”.

Soft innovations are the clever, insightful, useful small ideas that just about anyone in an organization can think up. Soft innovations can make your product into a Purple Cow, they can make it remarkable. They do this by solving a problem that’s peripheral to what your product is ostensibly about. It’s a second reason to buy the thing, and perhaps a first reason to talk about it. It may seem like a gimmick, but soon, what seems like a gimmick becomes an essential element in your product or service.

Avatar is being shown in 2D and in 3D. Olivier Blanchard and others on twitter told me that seeing it in 3D is a must. They were right and seeing the amazing visual effects in 3D gives me something else to talk about as I recommend the movie.

3D was Avatar’s Free Prize Inside.

I don’t know if James Cameron has ever met or even heard of Seth Godin. It doesn’t matter. In creating and marketing Avatar, Cameron took pages directly from Seth’s playbook.

The result? Seventeen days after release, Avatar is already the 4th highest grossing movie ever.

How can you apply these tactics to your project, business or personal brand?

Last chance at Tribes!

Seth’s TED Talk is now live. You can visit the TED site or watch it below.

The hardcover of Tribes is available on Amazon.

A long Squidoo lens, including lots of information and more videos and slides, is here.

You can download a FREE mp3 of Seth himself reading the entire thing right here.

OK. It’s not really your last chance. Everything above will likely be available…well, forever. But knowing Seth, he’s cooking up even more quality. Another topic that will require a good portion of your brain.

So finish up Tribes. Read the book. Watch the video. Listen to the .mp3. Pass it along to a friend.

Learn Tribes. Lead one. But make room.

More genius is coming.

seth-at-ted