Snapchat Scares Up Some Paid Advertisers

Did you get your Ouija board out after watching Snapchat’s Inaugural ad?  Or did you miss it and have no clue what i’m talking about?  If it’s the latter then have no fear, the second part of my Halloween series of posts covers this spooky tale from the Snapkeeper.

This week the many millennials on Snapchat could be heard screaming, their terror heralding the dawn of a new domain of online advertising, as Snapchat opened its gates and allowed its first paid advertisement to its American users.  The 20-second trailer for the horror film Ouija appeared in everyones “Recent Updates” section, daring everyone to hold their finger to watch the entire ad without having to restart the timer over again.  With a lifespan of 24 hours, before it disappeared from the system as eerily as it arrived, the ad, according to Universal Studios, received millions of views but reserve final judgement on its success until all the analytics are in.

Snapchat_FirstAd

While this is the first paid advertisement in the app, it isn’t the first time advertisers have promoted their products to Snapchats millennial audience.  Taco Bell, an early adopter to Snapchat, has gained a strong following on Snapchat with more than 200,000 friends.  Considering their Snapchat followers as “crazy engaged,” Nicholas Tran, Taco Bell’s official storyteller, considers Snapchat “one of the most engaging places for us to play“and each Snap it sends receives an estimated 80% engagement rate (with 90% viewing the entire Snap).

The important question is, if Snapchat continues to open the doors to paid ads, can brands continue to achieve these levels of engagement?  Or will the flood of ads start to ruin the goodwill earned by brands like Taco Bell and Doritos who have spent the time to earn the trust of its millennial audience?

So Snapchatters, were you scared by Snapchat’s first advertisement this week? Or just annoyed that ads have made it into your favourite social media app?  Raise your pitchforks, light your jack-o’-lanterns and storm the castle of my comments section below.

All Hallows Eve

Woe to the spirits beyond for I call upon you!  Your time has come to once again creep upon this mortal plane and to strike fear into the hearts of all man and womenkind!  Send your children out into fading light to appease the gods of old and to beg for tokens of candy to keep them from harm!

Okay, so Halloween is on the way and i’m a little overdramatic.  Can you really blame me?  After all this is the one time of year you can get away with scaring the living daylights out of people – unless you’re in a rural area and then most likely you’ll be shot just like during any other time of the year.  But that’s just common sense.  For the most part you can scare the living bejeezus out of everyone – especially kids.  You’ll be considered creepy (or might make it on some blog about child predators) any other day of the year, but on Halloween you’re golden!  It’s open scare season!  So feel free to jump out of a bush to frighten them as they step on your garden or disguise yourself as a scarecrow and sit on the porch to frighten them when they least expect it – That’s my personal favourite.  Just make sure to try and grab as much of their spilled candy as they fleet as a trophy to the old gods.  But as much as scaring kids can be a hoot, nothing is better than making a grown adult scream in terror.  You can have all the Christmas fruitcake and eggnog you want but give me a taste of sweet terror and fear and that is worth my weight in coal that Santa will be giving me in December for my sins of All Hallows Eve.

“But Stormlight how does this relate to relating with people?”

Ye gods man (or milady) will thou not let me have fun at least once per year and allow me to rant like a demon possessed?!?  After all this time of year has EVERYTHING to do with relating to people.  Because with all the ghouls and ghosts and tykes and tricksters that come to your door on All Hallows Eve you have to be on your best of behaviour; or else be on the receiving end of a trick that might result you in cleaning egg of your windows at 3am.  All that because you thought it prudent to not give that last bit of candy you were saving for yourself to those rather large and badly costumed “kids” who knocked on your door at nine.  You remember them?  The ones that tricked or treated on your steps in those break-y kind of voices that could only be puberty or a bad batch of helium.

Then again it could a case of Halloween role-reversal with you be out there.  A 30-something slouching in a badly thrown together ghost costume – you know the bed sheet with the mismatched eyeholes because you had to cut it in the dark in the closet.  That closet which you happened to be hiding in because if your wife or fiancé actually caught you putting holes in those guest sheets you “borrowed” you’d be sleeping on a couch for a week.  All that so you could score some bonus candy because she wouldn’t let you take your fair share from the kids, or the bowl you were handing out treats with at the door.

Anyways I digress. Samhain is my favourite time of the year.  It is indeed my favourite time of the year.  And not just because of everything I just said before this (especially the parts about scaring people).  As sweet as the candy, costumes and frights the current incarnation of Hallowmas brings to our October’s end;  It is the history of the night itself which I truly love the most.  A festival for the dead at the time of year where the door to the Otherworld has opened to allow faeries and ghosts a chance to return to our world and communicate with the living.   The celebration also marked the end of harvest season and the start of a darker time of the year where the nights would start to grow longer and humanity would be forced to spend more time indoors hiding in the comfort of their fires.  Of course the celebration also meant a large feast and almost every historic Samhain story involves copious amounts of alcohol being consumed by the celebrants.  And who can really argue with that.

Samhain, at it’s core, was a time where people firmly believed they could communicate to their dead loved ones, or ward off their spirits from roaming the land looking for revenge.  Of course that all changed when Christianity took over every pagan holiday on the calendar and replaced them with their own versions, so over the course of time Samhain became All Hallows Eve which in North America became the Halloween we know today.  Which I am okay with since even at the core of the revised day of celebration they still worship the kernel of it’s former glory, and that is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the growing darkness.  Fear of something coming back from the dead… unless his name is Jesus.  Then if he’s not wanting your brains for a snack you might want to consider giving him a pass out of respect for your Christian neighbours.  We pagans are nice like that.

So unlock your doors and pray your pumpkin wards and offerings of candy corn and chocolate will keep the demons from your steps.

After all one of them might be a certain blog writer in some bad ghostly disguise and we both know that if he doesn’t get a good treat from you then you’re going to get a bad trick in return – one which will likely involve you having to wake up at three in the morning for a little post-Samhain housecleaning followed by me sleeping on a couch until Christmas for putting eye holes in the guest sheets again.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Overcoming Fear

There is nothing more terrifying that seeing a person engulfed in flames.  Watching them stumble around, arms flailing, until gravity finally wins and they fall to their knees in front of you submitting to their inevitable fate.  It’s something you never forget – even when it’s just staged on the set of a movie.

While a primal part of you is in awe at the fearsome sight of it, that same primal part has you recoiling in fear.  That’s because deep inside of you, your instincts know that even in the most controlled of environments the danger is still real.  One wrong move or forgotten layer of protection and the worst still can happen, even if you’re a stunt performer.

The hardest part is to be able to overcome fear and panic and remain calm during the chaos.  Stay levelheaded while others are losing theirs.  Now that doesn’t mean that you will stop feeling fear after a while, that’s the worst thing that can happen.  It’s good to be afraid, it’s healthy.  What I mean is that over time you learn to control it instead of it controlling you.

I find that one of the best ways to do this is to challenge yourself on something you’re afraid of, even if it’s minor.  Personally I’m deathly afraid of heights.  Now that fear of heights is also a primal instinct, some would call it a genetic memory, hailing from our primitive ancestors where like the monkeys of today we’d reach the top of a tree and realize there was no branch above to support us.  It’s that fear which seizes your stomach and begs you to grab ahold of something fast, hug it tight for all it’s worth and to not let go.  Kind of like love, just as dangerous but that’s  a different primal instinct.  So do I let that grip of fear control me?  No, not any more.  Over time i’ve challenged myself enough to be able to push back and maintain a rational calm while it tries to scream in my ear that “This is a really really bad idea!.”  After years of pushing myself the peak of overcoming my fear of heights came on a trip to Spain where I came across a metal pole that had been imbedded into a rock on a mountain edge for over 50 years.  It was a great view that I knew I couldn’t pass up so I grabbed onto it and leaned over the edge of that cliff.  It was scary yet liberating and I wish I had the photos to show that amazing view and the shot of me holding the metal bar while leaning over.

These baby steps work.  Even if two hours later I almost slipped and fell to my doom on that same mountain.  Note:  It took a week to get that dirt out from under my fingernails from stopping my slide over the edge and pulling myself back up onto that icy mountain path.

Now in a real crisis level event, no matter how much you’ve challenged yourself there is always a chance you will still freeze.  We’re only human and every person has something that their brains just won’t be able to handle at a certain time and moment.   So don’t be too hard on yourself if it happens.  After all in times of war sometimes the strongest men and women crack under the pressure only to be held together by that person who was afraid of their own shadow until the proverbial crap hits the fan.  It’s those moments that truly define you but luckily i’ve never seen true war and I hope I, and yourself, never have to.  Not that I haven’t felt the force of explosions and come close when a blank once misfired and ricocheted over my head (that’s why you never point guns at people, especially on a film set).

But in the scope of our everyday lives it can help you.  So climb that tree.  Ask that attractive woman with the tattoos out for drinks.  Grit your teeth and swallow that fear because you can control it even when you’re watching wooden shrapnel fly around you after some actor kicks open a door with enough force to shatter it (and you can’t make a sound or else you ruin the take).  Trust me.  And don’t let that attractive woman try to talk you into getting any random tattoos – At least not until she at least buys you a few drinks first.