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? 😀

  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.