I’m not sure if I’ll see I Am Legend — I have to walk outside in the dark, you know, and I don’t want to attract the unwanted attention of any more zombies than absolutely necessary — but there’s a few very interesting phenomena that makes it worth commenting on.
1. Retro is Good: I Am Legend is a remake of a remake (Omega Man, staring Chuck Heston back in the Big ’70’s) of a remake (Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth) of a novella (John Matheson’s original work).
2. The Evolution of the Zombie: When did Zombies get so fast? Mel Brook’s son Max wrote Zombie Survival Guide, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, etc. Zombies are very hot right now, aren’t they? When I was a kid, they kind of stumbed around. Now, they’re like a really good punt cover team.
3. A Zag Release?: A horror movie that comes out at Christmas time and breaks all box office records. Contrarian strategy? A Zag? Happy Holidays! Lock the door, kids!
4. Content Sells Content: Best, it’s been promoted heavily through iTunes by a graphic film that runs parallel to the movie and original story line — similar but different. Animation, along the lines of 300. Content promoting content, each in a different style.
It’s this last one that’s interesting. Remember when you were a kid and you saw a really great movie and you just wanted to live in that whole atmosphere? You just wanted more of everything that that movie was about? I felt that way when I saw Lawrence of Arabia (at the Uptown Theater in Washington DC – a 70mm screen and a big balcony. Same place I saw Star Wars. All eight times). I Am Legend does this. They took the idea from the movie (and the movie, the movie, and the book) and spun an animated piece based on a graphic novel from it. More of the same, more ways to animate the idea.
How do you do that for something other than a content-based product? How do you do that if you sell insurance, or consumer electronics, or a consumer packaged good? Not sure yet. Here’s a thought or two:
1. Stay in the box: how do you extend your world within your functional experience? If IAL can extend through a graphic novel, your brand can extend through traditional line extensions, right? OK, dull, but it works.
2. Connect the dots: which spoke is the most interesting and how can you draw more more spokes from it? Consumer electronics connects to audio connects to music connects to live performances connects to unplugged events connects to high quality audio reproduction connects to your brand.
3. Bring the atmosphere home: how do you take something inherently interesting (entertainment, media) and bring it towards your brand. How do you make the act of selling your insurance heroic? Branded content? Cause-related?
Sometimes, it comes down to breathing life into what others might think is dry-as-a-long-tall-glass-of-sawdust product. Give this a shot.
Just watch out for zombies.
I’ve enjoyed your thoughtful pieces this year. Have a good year-end with your (growing) brood.
Roger von Oech
Thank you, Roger — I greatly enjoy all that you and Heraclitus have to say.
Let’s all watch out for Zombies in the New Year!