Yesterday, Adam and I spent some time in the 20th Century Fox offices talking to Cameron Saunders, the MD of UK Theatrical.
On the back wall of his office, Cameron had around 40 small prints lined up in neat rows along the length, with a series of dates attached to each column. (They were created by Designers Anonymous)
The problem was, when you started looking at them, it was nigh on impossible to stop. Each print represented a different film from 20th Century Fox’s past, but created with the specific intention of being both cryptic and artistic. Funnily enough, when you knew the film well, it was often very easy to decipher.
For example, ‘Romeo + Juliet’ was represented by a blood spattered revolver with “Dagger” written on it. A blacked out Oscar Statuette in front of a huge American flag symbolised George C Scott’s iconic moment in ‘Patton’ and his subsequent refusal of an Oscar.
My favourite was the line drawn Ikea Man, star of countless DIY instruction manuals, standing over a dynamite detonator with the wires heading to an IKEA branch somewhere in the background. I’ll leave you to guess what that one was for. A clue for you: 1999
I loved them. However, I’m a boring marketing person, so I ended up thinking about brands.
More and more, I realise the importance of storytelling within any type of marketing. As a rather hammy Dustin Hoffman is telling Sky Atlantic viewers at the moment “Some stories are so good, we’d wish they’d never end.”
There’s a reason why Seinfeld is still one of the most watched TV shows in the states, why Channel 4 has been broadcasting Friends four times a day for nearly a decade and a half and why people read Harry Potter books on repeat.
We love stories that we know so well, we can jump into them at any point. That’s why I loved seeing the illustrated revolver on Cameron’s wall, set against a pink background and wrapped in “Merry Christmas” sellotape. It instantly took me back to that moment in Die Hard, on tenterhooks as to how Bruce is going to get himself out of this one. There’s a lesson in that for comms. Don’t ever let yourself think that your audience don’t like working things out, they just like things that reward them.
We talk about a Challenger Lighthouse Identity at eatbigfish. However, you could ostensibly paraphrase that to be the Brand Story. We love brands that tell us interesting stories, consistently and innovatively.
That’s not to say there’s one way of telling a story. innocent smoothies’ story is told friend to friend, giggled across packaging and point of sale. Audi’s story is not only told through big cinematic and photographic statements of power, energy and a new type of status, but also through the design and aesthetic of their cars. The HSBC hexagon is part of a story about a company that cares for people around the globe.
So, while I was amazed that you can recount a whole movie in a 10” x 8” print, I suppose we’ve been doing similar for years.
If you’d like a more detailed look at the photo above, click here