Before any­thing else, watch this not-so-safe-for-work video (lots of cussing):

YouTube Preview Image

Now, here’s what the Alamo Draft­house has to say about the inci­dent:

We do not tol­er­ate peo­ple that talk or text in the the­ater. In fact, before every film, we have sev­eral warn­ings on screen to pre­vent such hap­pen­ings. Occa­sion­ally, some­one doesn’t fol­low the rules, and we do, in fact, kick their asses out of our the­ater. This video is an actual voice­mail from a woman that was kicked out of one of our Austin the­aters. Thanks, anony­mous woman, for being awesome.

Just one ques­tion: after watch­ing that video, do you have any doubt that the Alamo Draft­house is seri­ous about pro­tect­ing the customer’s movie-going experience?

Of course not. Why? Because you know that they not only are will­ing to kick peo­ple out for dis­tract­ing vio­la­tions, but that they’ve done it in the past and are not at all afraid to take some heat for it. This video serves as a mas­ter­ful dis­play of trans­parency in adver­tis­ing, a per­fect form of proof, and a strong sig­nal of intent to any prospec­tive customer.

alamo-drafthouseWhat’s the intent? To pro­vide the ulti­mate in seri­ous move-watching expe­ri­ence. The Alamo Draft­house is a movie the­atre with steep sta­dium seat­ing guar­an­teed to pro­vide an unob­structed view of the screen, and wait­ers and wait­resses that serve real food and beer, allow­ing cus­tomers to bet­ter enjoy the movie and to avoid any hunger or thirst-induced interruptions.

So while this video may indeed repel some customers,it’ll likely attract a lot more. In fact, it’ll be sure to attract the seri­ous movie-goer — which is exactly the kind of cus­tomer the Alamo Draft­house wants.

Not a bad way to turn a cranky, complaint-ridden phone call into a bril­liant piece of viral adver­tis­ing, no?

What about you? How could you take what might be con­sid­ered a down­side or “cost” or com­plaint and turn it into proof of your main UVP?


  1. bill laidlaw on 06.09.2011

    Bril­liant Jeff, we seem to have at least one cus­tomer like this every month. I tell my staff to make every effort to iden­tify these peo­ple before they buy, not always easy. Each time they go on a rant, I con­sider blog­ging about it with­out nam­ing names. Maybe soon.…..

  2. Jeff on 06.09.2011

    Thanks, Bill,

    May I ask what sparks the rant?

  3. Bill Laidlaw on 06.09.2011

    Not easy to silo Jeff.
    If you write enough busi­ness you will get your share of cra­zies, and down­right bad peo­ple. The only obvi­ous trait is that they are almost always very demand­ing on price.

  4. Nicole Rushin on 06.09.2011

    This is very edgy. I will have to assume that the Alamo Draft­house posted their rules and that this lady just did not see them. Although igno­rance is no excuse for not abid­ing by the rules it is always nice that we are told upfront what the expec­ta­tions of an estab­lish­ment are. She was clearly pissed off.

  5. Jeff on 06.09.2011


    Admit­tedly, no one wants to be ambushed for vio­lat­ing a rule that was unan­nounced. But it is appar­ently not only com­mon knowl­edge but overtly stated and empha­sized pre-movie that the Alamo Draft­house does not tol­er­ate phone use (includ­ing tex­ting). Here’s an e-mail I got from a friend of mine, who lives in Austin, regard­ing this video and the Alamo Drafthouse:

    heheh. Draft­house has soooo may reminders on the screen to keep your screens and ringers turned off.

    Love that place. Last visit was 3D Thor, pitcher of beer, pizza, pop­corn, greek salad.


    So I’d have to say that the tester/girl in ques­tion was at fault, not the establishment.

    - Jeff

  6. bill laidlaw on 06.09.2011

    The part of this that I find strange is that they did not refund her money?
    A bad move in an oth­er­wise sen­si­ble policy.

  7. Jeff on 06.09.2011


    I think it depends. They may have lim­ited seat­ing, and a felt sense that this woman deprived them of sell­ing that ticket to some­one else. But assum­ing this is an anom­aly, you’re right that tak­ing the high road is the best move: refund her money and she really doesn’t have a leg to stand on at that point.

    That said, my guess is that this woman was no only tex­ting, but drunk and angry and, just maybe, they had the angry, seething prob­lem “escorted” straight to the exit and not past “Go” or the check­out counter. Per­haps they thought they’d refund her money when she came back the next morn­ing, or cooled down, or some­thing. Who knows?

    - Jeff

  8. Martyn Chamberlin on 06.10.2011

    Fas­ci­nat­ing. I love stuff like this.

    A friend of mine who lives in Austin.” That wasn’t Chris Pear­son, was it? :D

  9. Jeff on 06.10.2011

    No. I only know Chris by rep­u­ta­tion. The author of that e-mail was Rex Williams of Sun­pop Studios:

    - Jeff

  10. Martyn Chamberlin on 06.10.2011

    Oh man that Rex guy is awe­some. He must be the one that did your video. And I’ve got to say, your video on the about page is what sold me with this blog. He really knows what he’s doing.

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