The best Halloween themed films are the ones that think differently. It’s not all about the supernatural, the gore or outright horror, but about making us uncomfortable. This is why pod people stories like Invasion with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig was such a great story – because something very slight was off about the world they lived in and only the (and we the audience) had special knowledge.
This is really how a lot of people feel in daily life which is why stories like this really strike a chord and resonate with us. Even better than Invasion was another even older film from 1989 called They Live:
“They Live is a 1988 American satirical science fiction horror film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Roddy Piper, Keith David, and Meg Foster. It follows an unnamed drifter (referred to as “John Nada” in the film’s credits) who discovers the ruling class is, in fact, aliens concealing their appearance and manipulating people to spend money, breed, and accept the status quo with subliminal messages in mass media. They Live is based on the 1963 short story, “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson.” [Source]
The movie is a marriage between the Orwellian world of 1984 and the supernatural and extraterrestrial world of science fiction. Bridging two genres together the movie captures the heart of perspective storytelling, especially by telling it through the eyes of a drifter (someone who already doesn’t quite belong to society).
I’d say it’s the most powerful lesson in marketing and brand building I’ve ever seen in a movie. Here’s why:
First, they make the protagonist relatable. He’s an Average Joe, just like everyone else. There isn’t anything remarkable about him, no special knowledge that he has that we would need to learn. This makes him easy to identify with for the audience. For your brand, you’re going to need to do the same. It’s tough to do this as a company but easier if you’re able to brand the personality. That persona, no matter how special it is, still needs to be relatable. If you cannot relate to your audience, you cannot lead them over the threshold into a world where you’d like to them to see how you do.
Second, the movie shows the paradox of parallel worlds in one place. Science fiction typically looks at different worlds like two sides of a coin where essentially one is here and one is somewhere else – in other words, not here. They Live layered worlds together to show how two things can be in one place at the same time.
This is essentially our battle as thought leaders, especially in industries that are driven by moral values such as education, philanthropy, media, etc. We need to show not just our point of view but convey our point of view by showing a second layer. In the film, the protagonist wears a special pair of glasses that lets him see another reality. In your world, your brand is going to have to act as that pair of glasses. And there you have the ultimate goal: show your audience two fused worlds and empower them by giving them a perspective they couldn’t see without you.
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