Returned worldwide in recent weeks with the release of Dino Mania Jurassic World Dominion-the latest installment in the Jurassic franchise. It’s an attempt to lure those ravaged by prehistoric claws and fangs back to cinemas for another entertaining iteration of the fare they’ve previously enjoyed five times.
And while there are some obvious perceptions of “cash grab” in such ventures, it ends up being referred to as show business, with business seemingly taking center stage these days. there are still many useful lessons brands can learn from these GM adventures on the big screen.
After all, brands are “mini sequels” themselves. They are no more or no less than promises to return to pleasant experiences enjoyed before. They are strongly reminiscent of the familiar. They deliver small doses of nostalgia. This pledge and certainty binds consumers or fans to them. Make you want to hit the rewind button over and over again.
So it makes sense for brands across all categories to take some ideas from these film franchises (we’ll start with one in this episode). Because in the magic of their performance, coupled with the opportunity to observe the audience’s reaction to them, there are insights that can truly initiate “house full” signs. And considering how they’ve maintained their appeal over the decades, surely brands of all stripes would appreciate the strategic and creative nuances in these movie sequel designs that made sure of it.
Maintaining strong sensory signatures
My thoughts go back to stepping onto a Universal Studios ride based on it ten years after seeing the first Jurassic Park film. The faint echoes of a musical motif that I hadn’t encountered in the meantime were enough to give me absolute goosebumps. A living world just opened up before my eyes. This musical theme has reappeared in the sequels, albeit with some subtle layers added that cater to today’s music trends.
Add to that the iconic reverse grab image of the T-Rex that makes for the Jurassic Park logo, and you have visual appeal that ties the dots with the Mesozoic era, even if you see it on a modern day backpack today being carried by a child just trying to get to school.
Our senses are the strongest media channels for brand messages. Marketers who appreciate this physiological truth just keep doing better. Think how iconic the shape of the coke bottle looks and feels. Ponder how each handcrafted outline further enriches the imagery and mystique of Coca Cola. Think about how the common musical underpinnings of many ICICI offerings help ensure customer confidence hits the right note.
Or the “ta-dum” sound of the Netflix logo makes you look forward to the next program. Sensory signatures of this type create extremely powerful impressions in the mind. They help the brand to stand out unmistakably even in the rampant chaos. They act as harbingers and farewell notes for the brand experiences in between. Often their impact can be even greater if that makes sense (pun intended).
Keep improving the key ingredient
The Jurassic universe is a convincing case in this direction. At first, when dinosaurs were the main reason, audiences flocked to the theaters in droves; Each subsequent issue attempted to accommodate the “bigger and scarier” narrative – not entirely unfamiliar to marketers. The first film had a tyrannosaur as its apex predator. The second had to (literally) go up one and have two of them.
The third introduced a Spinosaurus. Jurassic world had the laboratory developed Indominus Rex, and domination shows the Giganotosaurus. While fans probably needed a thesaurus to look up all of this, the sense of threat emphasis was clearly part of the strategy and creation process.
Pepsi once had a campaign line centered around “yeh dil maange more,” and that likely accurately reflects what consumers expect from brands they like deeply. Perhaps it is a sign of the times when people’s demands on themselves are increasing. What was once desirable soon becomes a fundamental starting point. The hi-tech gadget industry embodies this mindset perhaps more than most.
The processors just have to get faster every year. The camera resolution has to keep getting better. The sound quality must be improved through concrete measures. It’s a treadmill of “incremental improvements” that these brands walk on. From Apple to Samsung and Micromax to Lava, it seems this is a call that all brand marketers in this space have to answer on a regular basis.
Experience the familiar in a new way and celebrate
Essentially, all films set in the Jurassic universe feature some familiar tropes – both at the conceptual and execution levels. There’s the eternal question they ask, what happens when man starts playing God? Can nature really be manipulated without consequences? Could humans bend nature to their will? There is always a point in the film when this fragile balance collapses and chaos ensues. Every fan knows this will happen. You return to see what develops. when the attempt to control life millions of years ago goes horribly wrong this time.
You expect dangerous confrontations with carnivores in environments where humans have lost their superiority. You await the adrenaline pumping chases that will have the jaws and claws snapping the whole time. And our heroes miraculously escape from danger. There’s an immense sense of deja vu, but it’s a comfortable feeling nonetheless.
A lot of time is invested in branding and marketing to achieve the “holy grail” of the “new and improved”. But to be honest, it’s an appreciation for the tried and true that really defines a brand. A product becomes a brand if a certain set of familiar emotions flares up again in future samples. These feelings and emotions add a layer of storytelling that is often beyond the reach of manufacture. One place where this is perhaps most evident is in brand communications.
A case in point is the recent cricket commercial for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, which served beautifully as a sequel to a very popular film avatar from the past. And while the gender of the acting protagonists may have been flipped in the new version – aware of the changing times, the essence of the magical moment the brand created remained exactly the same. Another brand that has maintained its core narrative for a long time, Surf Excel, also sets up various stories that beautifully capture the aspect of children getting their clothes dirty in order to achieve good that helps others.
The urge to keep writing the novel while it’s good needs to be tempered in branding. The value here often lies in what has been seen and enjoyed before.
In conclusion, there may be more lessons to be learned from such fallen kingdoms. The intent of this series is to start a conversation to examine and decipher what works for these movie franchise brands. This time we went through Jurassic Parkbut tune in for the next episode, where we’ll see what it takes to create “bonds” that last.