There are many around the office, I’m sure, who have heard the geeky squealings of Rob and myself—two people with a mutual fervor for horror, sci-fi and fantasy films, comic books, graphic novels and console-agnostic gaming—and dismissed our conversations as simple nerdtastic zeal. But were they to listen in, they might discover those conversations can forge interesting paths. For example, we were both struck by how the complex and endlessly creative marketing efforts for 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film, Prometheus, actually teach a valuable lesson about revitalizing brands and the creation of an engaging customer experience.
Really, Vanessa? “Squealings?” If that’s what our daily digressions have come to sound like, then I really do pity our coworkers.
Don’t worry, Rob, your voice doesn’t get that high.
Whew. But in the case of Prometheus, there really is something to be excited about. I’ve seen viral marketing campaigns precede a movie release in the past, but not like this. A TED Talk from the future; a retail-esque website showcasing the android and other initiatives from the film’s fictional corporation—you don’t have to be a science fiction fan to be drawn-in by the marketing here.
Yes—the studio has taken minor details and supporting characters to flesh out a fully interactive world. The most special aspect of these branded experiences is they don’t subtract from the primary product. They complement the world suggested by the film, extending its influence far beyond the two hours a customer will spend in an actual theater. The question is, though, what would any of this would mean to a smaller brand with a more modest product?
Hmmm…If the experience is genuine, then it doesn’t matter if the brand is smaller or the product more modest. Because I’m still being engaged in a targeted and compelling way. It doesn’t take a big budget to do that; it takes an understanding of who you’re talking to. Seems to me, the Prometheus case study is a lesson in knowing your audience.
Let’s break it down further. Say you have an all-natural dog food company, and you want customers to purchase your products, but you don’t want their experience to begin and end with that one purchase. What is your approach?
I’d want to share the story of said dog food before my target is in the pet food aisle, reaching for the brand they already buy. Here’s a for-instance: Imagine being at a vegan/vegetarian restaurant—the type of place that serves food as natural as my dog food—and seeing a menu item just for dogs that’s made from my product. Suddenly my brand is associated with my target’s lifestyle. It’s not an ad; it’s a connection.
You could also try rethinking the motivations of your customers. Many of them are first-time buyers because they’ve just brought home a new dog. How can you help them to make an informed decision about their pet’s diet and overall health? Give them a way to connect with other dog owners for support and advice. Don’t just publish a list—create a digital space where they can establish friendships and conversations, and encourage those conversations to continue offline.
I like it. It acknowledges a certain level of trust in your audience: that they’ll connect the dots.
Between your brand and their positive emotional experience.
The moral here is that while the marketing effort behind Prometheus is extraordinary, it’s also based on a simple concept—creating a positive, branded experience. The trick is to stop focusing on your product or marketing message. Start looking at the experiences you encounter as a consumer every day to unearth a treasure trove of ideas that could help to breathe new life into your brand, and its relationship with its customers.
And who doesn’t love treasure troves?
Crazy people. …And, well, maybe androids.
Rob Doerzbacher is a copywriter and co-anchor of the agency’s gaming team with Vanessa Boynton, Woodbine’s digital engagement manager.