Freak hurricane hits Los Angeles, flooding the city with man-eating sharks. The sharknadoes are stopped only when a band of heroes bombs them from helicopters.

Say what?

“Sharknado” has landed. Originally a SyFy Channel “B” movie, it flashed to instant cult status, crossing over to sell out big-city movie theatres last weekend.

Cable hosts did parodies. The National Weather Service advised on sharknado readiness. “We survived the #Sharknado!” the Red Cross of Oklahoma tweeted.Welcome to instant cult sensation.

While there is no magic formula (sorry, there just isn’t) to create your version of a cult classic, there are some things you can do to improve your chances. The producers of “Sharknado” did every single one.

And so can you.

Appeal to your core tribe. The creatives behind “Sharknado” are horror genre specialists: think vampire zombies, coeds and Halloween. Partnering with SyFy made exquisite sense, right down to the B movie effects beloved by both audiences.

Choose your timing thoughtfully. As any film or television exec will tell you, timing matters. Scheduling “Sharknado” just as Shark Week normally starts trending on social media was pitch-perfect.

Stay true to your brand. The filmmakers were very clear they were making absurdity and never tried to treat it like high art. They kept tongues firmly in cheek—changing not a whit for their newly expanded audience.

Ride the wave. The “Sharknado” creators probably had a very different plan for their next project. But they shelved it and instead ran a Twitter contest to name the sequel. Get ready for next year’s “Sharkalanche”.

Absurd though it may be, “Sharknado” perfectly fits the brand of its creators and may well have the legs to go beyond a one-hit-wonder.

If only we could all say the same about our next project…

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  • Great article. Simple and informative.

  • I never cared much for the Jaws genre. I did get hooked by the Walking Dead. The key point — staying true to your core and allowing them to create a buzz certainly works. Too often, I see artists, other professionals, politicians stray from that imperative (I differentiate that from an artist who seeks to explore another genre but that artist probably takes his/her fans along for the ride.). My personal analogy involves a focus on transit/ transportation issues over the past several years and a client base that reflects that. I never anticipated it; I know where it came from. While I covered those issues during my time in government my signature issues involved “justice”, budget and tax reform, and the environment. Sometimes you just never know. No complaints here.

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