Lessons for brands from Hollywood
Lesson 1: Keep it Simple
One of the best movie scenes of all time is from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Arc. It’s the scene where Indy is in the middle of a crowded street, when the crowd parts and an Arab swordsman emerges swinging his weapon skillfully. With all the drama hyped seconds before, we all think it will be a huge fight scene, but Jones pulls out a gun and shoots him dead. It becomes comedy gold. What many people don’t know is that a big fight scene WAS actually planned but Harrison Ford was ill that day and in the interest of keeping the film on budget by not adding extra days to the shoot, director Steven Spielberg gave Harrison a gun and told him to shoot it, and then go home and rest. The result was epic. It became the most talked about scene from the movie, never mind becoming one of the most infamous scenes of all time. How? Because being trapped by constraints of budget, time-starved Steven was pushed to be his most creative and take a chance on simplicity. Wow, did it pay off.
So how can we learn from this? Well, sometimes less is more and with the digital revolution - Brands have lost their way, becoming kids in sweet shops as we become over-stimulated with new platforms. There are too many new marketing opportunities where we’ve had to learn as we go – developing bad habits and not even realising. In the last 10 years we’ve still not got it right, particularly around social media. What’s more, we’re getting worse. Forcing ourselves to think out of the box is becoming our biggest problem – we overthink, we are becoming ‘too smart’ that we lose connection with our audience, often resulting in our content shouting at viewers, interrupting them and pushing them away.
Like Steven Spielberg, when it comes to campaigns and content, we need to stay in the box and go back to basics. Back to the days of P&G’s original soaps, but perhaps modernising the execution. That was the heyday of Brand storytelling – where adverts resonated with consumers and they’re remembered even to this day. It wasn’t about the product, it was about lifestyle and values.
Today, social media has changed everything. We think it’s an opportunity to advertise on every post - to talk all about ourselves and our products continually. In fact, it’s an opportunity to be our own journalists and talk about the bigger issues at hand, that our customers really care about. It’s an opportunity to be ‘liked’ and form emotional connections, so our followers want to ‘hang’ out on our channels and check in for news and entertainment regularly.
Instead, influencers have become the lazy ‘go-to’ approach where it’s not enough that brands are talking about themselves, getting no engagement, but they also want to get the influencers to talk about them too – and alienate their audience as well.
Surprisingly, we don’t realise the enormous, dormant influence we have as brands. Most global brands have millions of followers so what’s the difference between an actor with 5 million followers and a brand that has the same? Why does that brand get 200 likes and the actor get 75,000? Again, it’s really pretty simple. The actor is relatable, and entertaining, talking about matters of interest, provoking comment and shares. The brand is not.
Fundamentally we need to learn how social media actually works, because the evidence is clear. Brands still don’t get it. Engagement is dire. Forget about all the analytics. It’s much simpler than that. It’s not who is posting the content. It’s the content itself. It’s time to get back to basics and like Indy pull out a gun.