Sunday, August 8, 2010

Inception for Marketers... and Planners

Inception resonated with me because it hit on many of the challenges I face as an advertiser. Characters in the film mentioned inspiration, ideas and creation, which advertising folks tackle everyday.

The Team
In a new kind of corporate espionage, Leonardo di Caprio's Dom enters people's subconscious (so marketing-aptly referred to as "targets") to extract guarded bits of information. A challenge is posed to him by Saito (Ken Watanabe), a leading energy trader with a unique request: "If you can steal an idea from someone's mind, why can't you plant one?".

The idea is controversial even for other characters in the film. "True inspiration is impossible to fake," asserts Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Dom's long-time partner. But of course Dom accepts because [see film for sub-plot], and puts his team together by recruiting an architect, a forger and a chemist. Enter charming (but manly walker) Ellen Page, very hot Tom Hardy and Dileep Rao.

The Brief
Saito briefs them on the task at hand: a strong competitor is about to take a monopoly on energy trading. This competition is a family-run business threatening to buy Saito out. The only way to prevent this is to target the magnate's son and convince him to split up the empire, which he is soon to inherit since dad is about to kick the bucket.

The Strategy
My favorite scene in the film is when the team gets together to discuss their strategy - how to translate a bigger business issue into an idea that will take root? I loved this part since it felt  similar to the process of strategic planning in advertising.

When we start a new project, we outline the objective and target market then try to figure out an insight that will make our brand or product resonate. Another major part of the strategy is the Engagement Plan - this echoes the journey we would like to take the consumer on for their path to purchase. The plan is usually split up into phases, each with a different objective: e.g. Awareness, Trial, Loyalty, and corresponding messaging or executions.

This is an important tool since consumers increasingly need to be remidned of a brand or product's relevance in their lives. This is often a lengthy process that requires many phases of communication to increase the brand's relevance on many different layers. Just like in the film, there are often barriers that each layer has to address before a brand or idea will truly adhere.

The Engagement Plan
My favorite, favorite part was when Eames (again, the hot Tom Hardy) was taking the team through his thinking on how to reduce the complex outcome (of splitting up father's empire) into a much simpler idea. I imagine that if Saito, as the "client" had asked for a one-pager summing up the task at hand and executional phases, it would have looked something like this:

Inception EP

What do you think?!
I imagine that other advertisers and planners would have noticed that intersection of the concepts in the film with the meat of our daily professional lives - the art of persuasion.


Unknown said...

My first reaction: OMG! Tom Brady was in the film??? I got to excited, until I re-read the correct name. Haha! But yes, TH is HOT, a little overweight but HOT!! And he used to swing both ways, you know. And he admits to it openly.

Now that you've deconstructed the film into a brief, then the "executional idea" seems ridiculous, risky, and expensive that only a few brave Clients will have the stomach for. The "slice of life/romantic thriller" execution could have been-- hot and sexy shrink (or prostitute) pretends to like the man by seducing him in a bar, ends up to be his gf/therapist, she plants the idea, he executes it, then accidentally discovers that he's been taken for a ride, but by then girl is already in love with the man but can't prove otherwise, and the cliff hanger could've been a will-they-end-up-together kinda thing...

Yes, Bea, the movie is much like our world!

bea said...

Let's find a TH-ish member for our team! Haha I enjoyed this movie so much; I've got work on the brain :P

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