Lessons from a really bad movie on how to tap into consumer needs.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

The speed at which the movie Sharknado has entered the pop culture conversation is blowing my mind.

This is a low budget disaster movie that aired on the Syfy channel in July with D-list actors (Tara Reid and Ian Ziering aka Steve Sanders of 90210) and a writer named Thunder who came up with the following plot: a freak hurricane lifts sharks out of the ocean and drops them in LA where “nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace.” (IMDb.com)

I know, how can one possibly resist!

Defying common sense and logic #sharknado instantly started trending on Twitter.  Then entertainment reporters, late night comics and even the American Red Cross (who tweeted Practice preparedness in a hypothetical situation by tweeting #sharknado #redcross tonight” – brilliant!!) ran with it.  It is now playing in select movie theatres, merchandise is coming out and a sequel, Sharknado 2: The Second One (natch) is coming out next summer.

So we had to sit down and try to figure out…why.  We’ve been through vampires, zombies, a bunch of snakes on a plane, and now sharks, including the ever popular Shark Week (although one can argue it started when Jaws hit screens nearly 40 years ago and generated a visceral fear of swimming among an entire generation). Why the fascination with Sharknado?  Our thesis:  it taps into the four basic human needs:

To defend – against land sharks

To learn – as much about sharks in case we come face to face with one

To bond – will fellow humans in our universal fear of sharks

To acquire – as much merchandise crap as possible

The lesson then from Sharknado is this: to truly connect with your customer your brand must tap into at least one basic human need.  Does it?