Sell a movie, not a DVD

Consider this a Marketing 401 lesson on positioning as a key component of good branding.

Question: What is the difference between calamari and squid? Five bucks! Calamari is delicious and squid is slimy. The difference is perceived desireability between the two is the essence of position and word association as keys to modern branding. Two recent product success stories make this case.

First, An Inconvenient Truth
This very successful Oscar winning movie is actually a seminar presentation (talking head, power points with some animated sequences) not much different in format to any training program on DVD. It was marketed, though, as a MOVIE. It was released in theatres and talked about strictly as “a motion picture”, “a film”, or a “movie” by its marketeers and publicists. Later, the movie became available on DVD. Everyone wanted to see “the film”. The birth of basic doc as movie drama starts in the modern era with Michael Moore, and now comes to life with Al Gore’s project. If it had been produced for a DVD release only, and positioned as a presentation by Al Gore, it would not have generated so much interest and box office/Oscar success. Nope, it was a movie and enough of one to win TWO Oscars. (When was the last time the Best Song award went to the title track of a documentary?)

Second, The Secret. This runaway best selling movie on DVD is much like What the Bleep Do We Know, a documentary featuring talking heads, some graphics and a few recreations. The Secret is on sale online (get it here if you haven’t already). Even though it was not released theatrically, it is billed as a movie, a film, not a DVD or instruction seminar, etc. It is a movie. It happens to be available on DVD, but it is never sold as just a DVD (again, big difference in perceived value). When the producers were on Oprah, it was always referred to as a movie, not a DVD. Many DVD training programs with multiple authors are on the market, but they are just DVDs and sound. The Secret, from title to format (film, not DVD) is a marketing breakthrough.

Here’s what I get from this: No one wants to watch a DVD, everyone wants to see a movie. We will watch the movie on DVD, but if we think its a documentary, talking heads DVD or inspirational seminar — we just yawn and reach for a sure thing copy of Happy Gilmore or Lord Of The Rings.

In the entertainment economy, being in the business of entertaining is Good Business. If you want to deliver an idea via video (Disc, online, broadcast), remember that you are making a movie not just a DVD. It will make all the difference to your marketing success. As Sergio Zyman says, “the purpose of good marketing is to add value at the point of transaction or consumption.” Selling the calamari adds value and makes up great marketing in this cluttered world.