SXSW is the kind of convention where attendees are predisposed to expect a lot of clever viral marketing.
Among the first people will encounter when picking up their badges are posters slapped across columns along the Austin Convention Center with actor Nicolas Cage’s face, a phone number, and the message “I’m your biggest fan. Please Call Me!”
What’s going on? The poster appears to be in service to one the most hotly anticipated films being screened at SXSW, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the latest from Cage in which the actor plays a version of himself who gets hired to make an appearance at a superfan’s birthday party for a handsome fee.
Normally, it’s ill advised to call or text a random phone number plastered everywhere with unverifiable affiliation – much in the same way you wouldn’t stick your finger into an electrical socket. But if you did call, you’d likely hear the voicemail message from someone named Robby who is sorry to have missed you, and requests that you text him a verification selfie in the event that you are Cage.
This is indeed viral marketing, but it isn’t part of the official film marketing strategy. And given that Cage plays himself in the new film, the lines of fiction and reality are definitely blurred as it is.
“Robby” is actually Austinite Robby Schnetz, who couldn’t resist putting the posters up to grab Cage’s attention by attempting to break the fourth wall, which is typically reserved for fictional characters.
“I'm honestly just a movie buff. I work in IT and spend a lot of my time watching movies (Cage classics being my favorite),” Schnetz told the Chronicle, adding that he’s planning to use a projector to display the poster image on a large building wall Downtown. But unlike the superfan in the new film, he isn’t a billionaire, and thus had to resort to a different strategy. “What’s a couple hundred bucks and an hour at Kinko's for the chance to meet my favorite actor of all time?”
Schnetz said he first had the idea to hang hundreds of posters in the most visible spots of Downtown years ago in college, but never acted on the plans. Now that he’s in his 30s, and a much bigger fan of Cage, he decided it was time to pull the trigger. “Wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to meet your idol?”
So far, Cage hasn’t responded. But that could be due to the hundreds of calls Schnetz said he’s been getting since he started putting the posters up yesterday afternoon – most of them pretending to be the actor. Although, he told the Chronicle he has no regrets and remains hopeful. “If I tried to meet [Cage] at other events he’s doing, like movie premieres in L.A. or other conventions, it wouldn’t work because normal people can’t get in,” he explained. “But this is SXSW, and SXSW is for the fans.”
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