I hate oil companies. They are manipulating oil prices and getting filthy rich because you and I have no choice but to pay the high prices that they set. That’s not the point of this post however (we have already had that economic debate before anyway). This post is about a marketing question. Specifically, what would it take for a person like me, who hates the oil industry, to change my mind? Could a corporate film do the trick?
This month’s issue of Wired came with a dvd containing a film called “Eureka, The Best Ideas Come From The Most Unlikely Places.” In the lower right of the cover it says “A Shell Films Production.” I was intrigued enough to put the disc into my computer. To my surprise, the 9 minute film was excellent. Don’t take my word for it, jump on over to Shell’s site and watch for yourself. The story is interesting, the acting is convincing, the visuals are stunning. Wow.
The money it must have taken to produce this is beyond my comprehension. The cost is certainly deep into the millions. The cost isn’t what impresses me, however. Corporations have been blowing money on advertising since the first ad man climbed out of his cave. The astonishing thing is that I (and I assume the majority of people who watch this film) walk away with a different perspective. It won’t take the sting away from $3 gas prices, but when we are standing at the pump we might think of Shell’s movie instead of faceless corporate greed. We might even choose Shell over other brands because we connected to the story. If advertising is dead, then this is a great model for any corporation looking for an alternative to the dinosaurs of print/television/radio. It goes like this:
1. Create something amazing.
This could be a film, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be a traveling art exhibit. It could be a video game. It could be a novel. Whatever it is it needs to be of impeccable quality. It needs to be something that people can’t help but talk about.
2. Ask permission and then give it away for free
Traditional advertising never asks for your permission and that is why it is consistently ignored. When I put the dvd in my computer I was giving permission to Shell to tell me their story. If I had to pay for the Eureka film, I never would have seen it.
3. Find alternative ways of distributing your free gift
A free dvd in my favorite magazine has a huge advantage over a blind mailing. If I got the disc in the mail it would have gone in the trash. I may have watched it online if someone gave me a link and a recommendation. I would watch it if it replaced the previews at the theatre. Presentatin is everything and you need to find a place where your message will have a chance to be embraced, not ignored.
4. Supplement your creation with extras
If you really did make something remarkable then people are going to want to learn more. Eureka came with a “making of” documentary and a 90 second promo. It also had some games. The website has even more bonuses.
5. Reward the people who talk about your creation
After you have a crowd of people talking about your company, you now have something else to promote. If there are 50 blogs talking about your movie you should use it as a PR opportunity. Use a part of your site to point people to the conversations that you started. Shell hasn’t done this yet, but a link to this post on Shell’s site could only help their cause!
So did Shell’s film change my mind about greedy oil companies? No, I still hate oil companies, but I have a harder time attaching my hate onto Shell’s story. That is still a huge victory and it is a victory that could never be accomplished through traditional print or television ads.