Advertising Lesson From Les Miserables?

By Erik Eustice | Advertising

Oct 03

If you’re not familiar with the musical “Les Miserables” then you probably don’t like musicals.

The musical had 6,680* broadway performances and was turned into a movie starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe that grossed** $441,809,770  worldwide.

It’s safe to say people really love this story.

Here’s a snippet of a pivotal moment in the storyline.

If you’re not familiar with the story up to this point…

Jean Valjean is an ex convict who was on the run and started a new life and a new identity.

He’s fighting with himself in this scene because an innocent man is going to be sent to jail in his place.

“If I speak I am condemned… If I stay silent I am damned.”

Much of the storyline is culminating to this point where Jean Valijean accepts and admits who he is.

The scene is attention grabbing because you can feel the internal conflict the character is trying to navigate.

That tension grabs our attention.

It seems natural to fill a novel or movie with stories involving conflict. We follow along because we want to see how they unfold.

When it comes to marketing there are opportunities to share your story infused with conflict.

We tend to hide these stories but they can grab a listener and hold their attention.

If you think about it, any marketing message that talks about a rags to riches story is about overcoming conflict.

Many of us are familiar with Walt Disney and how extremely broke he was and what he was able to accomplish.

His story adds to the appeal of the Disney brand.

Perhaps you don’t have a rags to riches story but I’m sure you have internal conflicts that you could put a marketing spin on to help grab attention.

Here’s a great example from Saddleback Leather.

The President of the company writes a blog post and sends it out to all of his customers telling them that there will be a big price increases because he’s been clueless and was lucky he didn’t run the company into the ground.

He didn’t have to tell people that.

He could have just raised prices but he peeled back the curtain and admitted his faults (admitting the downside gives credibility to the upside) and showed what kind of turmoil/conflict he was in with the business.

You kind of feel for the guy as you read the post and think, “Good for him!”

It’s probably not a good idea to show or publicly express every conflict in your business.

However, there might be a time that you can be honest and tell people where you’re coming from and what you’ve been going through.

Take for example Dominoes Pizza. They uploaded this video to their YouTube channel in December 2009.

You can see the conflict Dominoes had on there hands.

They expressed this through a series of confessional style ads in the years following.

Over time they talked about improvements and changes they were making.

They also featured employees in the ads and humanized the brand.

In this snapshot below the line represents the date, 3 days before Dominoes launched that web video with an honest rebranding strategy.

Dominoes Stock change

Their marketing wasn’t the only thing that shifted the company in the right direction.

But their transparency of the mess on their hands certainly did a lot to grab attention and move the brand in the right direction.

Think about the conflicts inside your business, perhaps one of them is worth sharing with the world.

Credit* – Wikipedia.com

Credit ** – boxofficemojo.com

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