Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Digital Neanderthals

I've just come up with a new term for my personal lexicon "Digital Neanderthals"  and like their analog antecedents they are being replaced by a new stronger, faster, smarter form of marketing person.  I'm coining the term because these neanderthals seem to be oblivious to the steps they need to take to keep their own entertainment content alive in today's market.

I just had a phone conversation with a potential client in one of those "getting to know you / what the hell can you do for me?" discussions that permeate the LA entertainment scene. In this case we were discussing this company's  design marketing strategy to keep their titles current and in the public's consciousness as fresh or at the very least still vibrant after all these years.

These kinds of discussions happen quite a bit as a small indie features a role by say, "Actor X" which is nothing special, but there.  Then Actor X goes and gets a television series and becomes the next hot thing known by millions worldwide.  Now this distribution company has a film property that has some juice to it... but the key art doesn't reflect that.  It's old, and doesn't even mention the hot "Actor X" that's now the selling point of the picture.

Getting back to the point, part of these discussions always leads toward a company's strategy to reformat for digital and mobile...

And that's where it gets interesting, because I'm finding that many a company is leaving dollars on the table by being short-sighted. Or to quote the humanoid on the other end of the line:

"We only distribute theatrical quality movies here."

Wow. Okay, I get it.  You only handle big, important movies (they don't). And I could tell this wasn't a dig at the quality of our work either.  It was a simple, "I don't see the need to even be discussing this issue let alone do something about it."

So in my own special bull-in-a-china shop-fashion I'm going to lay a few things out for you:

  • There are more IPhone screens in the United States than theater screens. 
  • IPhones are dropping in price as are the fees associated with operating one.
  • However theater ticket prices are climbing as are the costs associated with attending the theater (drinks, popcorn, parking , babysitters, etc...)

Now we are talking about two different experiences here.  There is a wide gulf between the two. 


Iphones are going to make a bigger impact  on overall movie sales. Why?  It's an interconnected device.  You can watch the movie on the bus or subway or wherever then instantly tweet about it. Or, you can send the link to the movie you watched directly to all of your friends so that they can download.

You can't do that as easily at the theater.  That means dollars are being lost or at least delayed.

The key art that looks good for all those super huge billboards and banners and so on?  it doesn't look as good when it's vertical and reduced in size.  Those multiple heads smoosh together.   And because it's vertical you have to turn the IPhone to watch the movie.  Why not just recreate the key art to a widescreen ratio?

No twisting or turning.  No squinting at the screen to figure out which movie to buy and watch for your phone.

Simplicity.  Sales. Then Social Networking leading to more sales, more brand recognition.

All because a little piece of key art looked better, different... okay, cooler. Just good design suited to the format you're watching in. Seems simple really...

But the 'Digital Neanderthals' don't see it.  Don't realize they are losing money every time they don't think toward the future that includes for more opportunities to experience "film" than just at the theater or television.

And sadly for them, the Digital Cro-Magnon man is coming.

And he's bringing fire.


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