Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Brands and Risk" Morgan Spurlock Style

This past week as I was wasting the time away during my daily train ride commute, I was directed via a tweet to a TED link entitled 'The Greatest Movie Ever Sold--a look into the World of Brand Marketing" by Morgan Spurlock. Aside from recognizing past projects--by title only--which he had put together, I have to admit prior to watching this video I had no idea who he was. After viewing it, I certainly came away with a much clearer vision, as well as an appreciation for what an interesting project he had put together recently.

Basically, for those who do not know 'The Greatest Movie Ever Sold' is a film all about marketing and advertising whereby the entire film is funded by product placement. So what happens in "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," is that everything from top to bottom, from start to finish, is branded from beginning to end -- from the above-the-title sponsor that you'll see in the movie, which is brand X. The goal of this whole film is transparency. It's about seeing the whole thing take place in this movie from the concept being pitched to ad agencies right on through to production and finish. 

What makes it so engaging however--in at least from what I have gathered from the TED talk he gave--was that numerous big name agencies all turned it down and even recommended their clients not to partake. Spurlock even decided to by-pass the agencies and hit up the brands directly which included over 500 household names. The end result was that he got 17 brands to participate. That's right, only 17. Evidently and not surprisingly the agencies and brands were most afraid of giving up control on final product issues and not having enough say on particular production matters. 

His message which he makes clear here in verbatim is that, "If you take chances, if you take risks, that in those risks will come opportunity. I believe that when you push people away from that, you're pushing them more towards failure. I believe that, when you train your employees to be risk averse, then you're preparing your whole company to be reward challenged." 

The results of this movie so far since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival you ask. How about 900 million media impressions so far? That's only online -- no print, no TV. The film hasn't even been distributed yet. It's not even online. It's not even streaming. It's not even been out into other foreign countries yet. So ultimately, this film has already started to gain a lot of momentum. And not bad for a project that, almost every ad agency he talked to advised their clients not to take part within.

So here we have it, a very clear example of just how risk averse we still are despite knowing the potential benefits and opportunities whether they are presented via social media, OOH, digital or other ways. This certainly speaks volumes as to how brands and agencies really need to re-think philosophies as per their activities. Let's face it, these chances to reach people in very unique and real ways are only going to exponentially multiply and for those who 'get it' the opportunities will abound. 

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