3 Must-Watch Movies about Advertising and Marketing

Usually when you begin working in a particular industry, you want to know everything about it. Therefore, watching movies about it is certainly relatable. In my case, it was just the reverse. Ever since I began working in advertising, I wanted to dissociate from anything related to it in my off-hours; most especially watching movies that were about advertising. The main reason is that it was hard to relate to the glamorised version of the industry that the movies showcased. Anyhow, I’ve since gotten over that and managed to devour a few movies that were advertising and marketing centric. While there are many movies in this category, here are my three favourites :

# 1 The Greatest Movie ever Sold (2011)

The Greatest Movie ever Sold was born from an idea to explore product placement in movies and TV shows, with a unique twist. The angle was that this movie would be totally funded by product placement. So what this means is that we’re watching a movie about the creation of the movie we’re watching, right from pitching for funds to its ultimate release. The movie follows the filmmaker as he endeavours to pitch the concept to various brands and zero in on the 12 companies to fund the $1.5 million budget.

The movie covers the process of branded sponsorships in movies and television, co-promotion, pitching and funding. The intriguing parts of the movie include a trip to Sao Paulo, where outdoor advertising has been prohibited by law. Another interesting vignette is the use of MRI machines that analyse the brainwaves of viewers to ascertain which ads generated an intense emotional response. Before watching the movie, I had this perception that it would be quite mundane and overtly commercialised. However, I’m glad to say that I found it incredibly entertaining and some moments are simply laugh out loud. As hilarious as it is engaging, the The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is also an insightful look at how advertisements have infiltrated and affected our culture.

#2 What Women Want (2000)

While What Women Want is an entertaining rom-com, it has useful lessons for the marketer seeking to rouse his target audience. The film revolves around an ad-man Mel, who gets electrocuted and suddenly has the power to listen in to women’s thoughts. He uses this advantage to craft messages that connect emotionally with the female target audience. The film is a reminder that a consumer’s purchase behaviour is driven by hopes, fears, dreams and capricious emotions. It demonstrates how advertising appeals to emotion and not logic. The Nike pitch scene in the movie displays how distinct we have to be in triggering the emotional impulses of our target audience.

What triggers your target audience? Is it the desire to feel cool, be powerful or popular? What would you learn if you could eavesdrop and hear your target market’s thoughts? What Women Want is a funny movie with powerful learnings about emotions, triggers and impulses. To create an effective commercial, every ad professional should study their prospect inside out. And if you need to go to extremes? Well, nobody said the job was easy.

# 3 The Social Network (2010)

Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard undergraduate and computer whiz, conceptualises Facebook in 2003, and it becomes a global social network. Fast forward six years later. He is one of the youngest billionaires and discovers that his overwhelming success has put him on the receiving end of two lawsuits, one from his erstwhile friend.

The Social Network is a must watch for advertisers and marketers for several reasons. The movie highlights how the execution of an idea is as important as the idea itself. In the movie Zuckerberg is accused by the Harvard Winklevoss twins of stealing their Facebook idea. Zuckerberg retorts “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.” So, an idea has no value unless it is executed. Another interesting distinction is drawn between the 3000 pound marlin and the 14 pound trout. If you want to make a buzz, you should publicise your bigger breakthroughs as opposed to your smaller achievements. Perhaps, the most important takeaway from the movie is that marketing, like fashion, never ends. It simply evolves. Just like Facebook has and continues to do.

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