The Routine Republic is a Cheesy-bad Ad

Fast Food ads and Cheesy-bad movies taste the same

With coffee and bacon trumpeting sandwiches and steaks, for our wallets, the breakfast wars are raging. It’s a free for all, Games of Throne style, between the coffeeshops and fast food joints looking to cut a bigger slice of the pie. And the battlefield has been in the ad space, where Taco Bell recently fired a volley at McDonalds, Cold War-style by teaming up with agency Deutsch LA, to diss McDonalds. The ad, “Routine Republic” portrays McDonalds as a soviet-style regime in clown-face and Taco Bell as Disneyland centred around pseudo-Mexican food instead of cartoon mice. And it’s so blithely earnest in it’s stupidity, you should totally watch it, just to know that Hollywood has been leaking like grease over advertising.

 

A Greasy Tasting Plot

Cliches are the concrete shoes of any stories, but plotholes that make you think “wait how does that even make sense??”. There’s even a YouTube channel, CinemaSins, where every video is titled “Everything wrong with [insert bad movie] in X minutes or less” and is about every nitpicking a movie could have. The “Routine Republic” also has a combo-sized load of of wrongness, here are my favourites

  • “Happiness is eating the same breakfast” even the Soviet Union could think up more cheerful way to describe a gulag
  • Hey Taco Bell your hexagonal symbol looks more oppressive than a clown face.
  • Really all they had to do to escape was book it? Seriously why didn’t anyone living in the Soviet Union think of that?
  • And of course, it only took the two young white attractive people to suddenly spontaneously “inspire” a revolution. Why isn’t real social change that easy?
  • What’s with the traffic jam on the middle of the street? Did they send the inventor of the drive-thru to the back for re-education?
  • Here’s an idea, let’s arm our Hamburger mines with colourful coins to stop escapees because of logic that comes from of eating hamburgers everyday
  • Yah a ball pit barrier, cause the whole carnival theme trumps any effective defences.
Routine Republic - Ballpit fall

Yah ballpit!

There’s more, but with all the plot intricacies of a Michael Bay movie, narrative was left neglected and pulling out hair in frustration.

 

A Ham-Fisted message

Any good narrative has to support a theme/message, and said theme/message should not be betrayed by the plot itself or reality. Otherwise reactions would be “hey wait a second…”. Visit The Editing Room for every movie that makes you think that. Taco Bell’s analogy of McDonald’s menu and service as rigid and inflexible, is pretty clever. Not subtle, but it almost makes an effective contrast to Taco Bell as the place to be. Almost because um Taco Bell, people don’t associate you with European Hipsters living it up in a medieval castle. They think three-hour clutching a toilet. Why? You sell cheap food, that tastes good, and greases our arteries. Where are you showing that you are different then McDonalds, besides your own delusions? Because the only difference between McDonalds and Taco Bell is a clown versus a chihuahua.

Article Cheesy Ads - Taco Bell meme

 

Evoking some shitty pop culture

“The Hunger Games” movie trilogy was great. then again you could probably stick Jennifer Lawrence in Bad Boys 3 and even the critics would say yeah it’s another dumb cop film, but it had Jennifer Lawrence in it so it was alright. The wave of YA dystopian movie adaptations that Hollywood unleashed have been Jennifer Lawrence-less and less than great. However they have had an edible mark for young movie-goers. It’s only natural that Taco Bell would try to draw in the demographics they put up on their promotional material. So naturally the plot is a boy & girl hero pair, living in a dystopian world, escaping from it and it’s kooky oppressive value. It’s the entire YA dystopian genre of teen survival rebellion compressed into three minutes by a grease fryer and resold back to them with a side-order of fries.

Article Cheesy Ad - YA Dystopic Adaptation

For all of it’s flaws however, it still is direct in it’s message (flee to Taco Bell!) and I would still watch a movie of a Soviet-style dystopia where all the guards are clowns.

Article Plot Twist Feature Image

How Superpowers and Plot Twists can make Persuasive Ads

French agency Les Gaulois, recently released an ad about a boy with a  mysterious superpower. It hasn’t exactly been igniting the internet; which is a shame because beyond a boy with a cute voice, great production, and has one of the best plot twists since the Sixth Sense. Watch it below because Spoiler: SPOILER warnings afterwards.

 

The Narrative supports the Plot Twist

A good plot twist encourages another viewing of the movie, just to catch all the bits in the movie that would make you go “ooh so that’s why she slapped him with a fish”. In the Sixth Sense, there were numerous clues foreshadowing the big reveal of ANCIENT SPOILER: Bruce Willis is Dead. In ACADOMIA – GEORGE, the intermittent portrayals of George as someone else or him inserted into the situation is how he see’s himself, whether as George or riding behind the eyes of another character depending on what he’s reading.

The Sixth Sense, Malcolm & Crowe

Plot Twist supports the Narrative

Like any good narrative element plot twists are meant not just to be shocking in itself but shock the characters and the entire narrative. In the Prestige, a central theme is illusions and how they are always hidden right before us. ANCIENT SPOILER ALERT Christian Bale had a double who was his assistant, hanging in the background of practically every scene while Christian Bale’s awesome jawline kept us fixated on him. Acadomia – George is about learning, primarily with his books. It’s a nod to a nearly forgotten cliche of how books do take us on adventures of learning new things and excitement, and leading us to the ad’s conclusion that academic support is awesome.

The Prestige, Borden & Fallon

Plot twists have always been a fickle beast, done poorly and it was just a cheap shot that more confuses the audience. Case in point the genre of plot-twist movies that spawned from the Sixth Sense, never understood why the Sixth Sense was so great, including M Night Shyamalan as can be explained by the fall of his career. But done right and they can utterly knock an audience to it’s knees in reaffirming a sense of perspective. It’s why George is so persuasive; by controlling our perspective, it proves to us that it’s right.

What Lives Inside Narrative Marketing Feature Image

Intel starring J.K Simmons, puppets, and Narrative Marketing

In a week, Hulu is premiering the fourth film of it’s the Intel ”Inside Film” series called “What Lives Inside”, produced by Pereira & O’Dell and starring J.K. Simmons (playing not a psycho conductor), Colin Hanks (where the hell have you been) and Catherine O’Hara (Yeah Schitt’s Creek is okay). As gleaned by the trailer, it’s about Colin Hanks returning home for dad’s, aka J.K. Simmon’s, funeral, entering his workshop and finding a goofy Alice in Wonderland-esque world. From first impressions of the trailer, its got some great production value, on the scale of a high-quality TV film. It’s also a fancy ad for Intel’s new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series tablet.

 

But it’s not “just” a fancy ad, it’s also a social film not to revolve around Intel’s newest tablet but to revolve around Intel’s narrative. “What Lives Inside” is just another example of the grown trend of “Narrative Marketing” and a decline in traditional marketing. Definition: Marketing has become more entertaining.

Stories not Advertisements

The Truman Show was ahead of it’s time, 24-hour live-cam, obsession with other people’s privacy and what we really think of product placement. One of the most elaborate reality show’s in fiction and yet it’s product placements still played out like a bad infomercial. By acting like Truman was just a audience to sell her stuff, it became one of the factors that broke Truman’s sense of reality (though the only surprise is why it took Truman to wonder why his wife was so batty). But it’s the same premise for many ads that attempt at a skit between actors, and no clever the script, it comes to an awkward halt when product plans and sale prices are being listed out.

 

For “What Lives Inside” Pereira & O’Dell chief creative officer PJ Pereira was quoted as saying “We had to find a role to make the product not the subject of the story we are telling, but a character. Because characters are what the audience will remember and love months after the campaign is gone.” In the trailer it’s all about Colin Hanks reconciling with J.K. Simmons and the fairytale land. The Intel tablet comes into only once, and it’s so brief you would have missed it for the visual design and trying to spot J.K. Simmons. Simply put, what will make “What Lives Inside” genuine and believable is if it’s able to stand up on it’s own with or without a tablet with it.

What Lives Inside Intel Tablet 

Quotes not Slogans

The goal of any work of art whether movie, novel, painting is to connect with the audience. And one of the easiest ways to make this easy is to collapse it in a digestible quote/slogan/picture/etc. In the “Dead Poet’s Society” Robin William sums up the entire movie in his iconic lesson to his students “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” and then proceeds to lead a merry year for the boys as they go on to do stupid and (mostly) unregrettable things.

 Dead Poet's Society, Carpe Diem Quote

The theme of all the “Inside Films” is the Intel Tagline: “It’s what’s inside that counts”, a great theme that could be inserted as a memorable quote in any feel good movie. And it’s representative of Intel’s narrative, that it’s up to us to do great things (and doing it with a tablet just makes it more awesome). It also sets the potential for a great movie as the movie is free to be about Colin Hanks tries to come to terms with the great things his father created and his own relationship with him and not how to use a table for every conceivable situation.

What Lives Inside J.K. Simmons workshop

Participants not Customers

The hope for any creator to put their work out there is to not just have fans willing to buy their work (pay the bills and all), but to share that work with everyone they know and even be inspired by it to create their own work. One of the most successful examples of fan support are the fans of the Firefly tv series. After the cancellation of one of the greatest Science Fiction TV series, fans of “Firefly”, through their petitioning, were successful in having a Firefly movie greenlit for release, and their continued support has ensured Fireflies place as a classic in the Sci-Fi world.

 Firefly Fans

A running practice to promote “Inside Films” is social participation, where a calls have been made for photos, videos even auditions to be part of the films. In the creative-heavy theme of this most recent movie, it’s artwork from fans. By asking participants to submit artwork of fantastical creatures of which a few would appear in the film, Intel is inviting it’s fans to be part of it’s narrative and so connect with Intel on a deeper level than just buying a tablet. Definition: Narrative Marketing at it’s finest.

What Lives Inside Artwork Contest

Why the Bible’s popularity comes from it’s narrative

Jesus and the rest of the Bible has always been a plump source for inspiration in pop culture, from movies, TV, books and even great ads.

Jesus from 1one production on Vimeo.

On it’s own it’s a pretty clever ad, spinning the Jesus narrative to mesh well with 1one message of “like me :)’. For the narrative of Jesus as a whole, it’s further proof that, whether it should be considered Fiction or Non-Fiction, it’s influence comes from being one of the most effective narratives in history.

It’s a Transmedia Narrative

One of the biggest developments in narratives is the transmedia narrative, where a story isn’t just within one medium e.g. book but several mediums to create a experience. There are actual businesses whose purpose is  crafting a real-life version of fictional organizations i.e. the Umbrella Corporation and seeing what happens. However Transmedia is quite effective, often used successfully when marketing films.

Article Narrative Univers - Jesus Article 640px-CAPPELLA_SISTINA_Ceiling The earliest adopter of the the transmedia narrative is the Church, spreading and enforcing the Biblical narrative. As one of the most important institutions of the Western world, it exerted a strong influence on the faiths of everyone, and it did this by crafting a transmedia narrative entered around Biblical stories and stories inspired by it. From the sermons, to stain glass images, to the rituals, to possessing artifacts like Saint Cuthbert’s left nipple, every element created a transmedia experience to practically everyone. In many cases churches took advantage of location i.e. Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus crucified and buried, that were dedicated to to parts of Jesus story or to particular saints to further enforce the holy narrative as a whole (think how Israel’s tourism run on the Bible the way New Zealand is run on LOTR). The church Transmedia Narrative was further pronounced during the Renaissance, where the rebirth of European culture and the careers of some of the worlds most famous inventors, artists thinkers were employed by the Church to create interpretations of every bit (usually just the interesting bits) of the Bible. And while the Renaissance is over the effective use of Transmedia narrative by the Church still exerts a strong influence in our culture today.

It’s a Narrative Universe

One of the reasons why Star Wars or DC/Marvel universes have lasted decades yet still remain popular is that they are not tied down by popular characters like Luke Skywalker or Ironman. Instead the narrative universe draws strength from the characters around the more popular characters, opening up a whole world to explore the narratives of the sidekicks, villains, to even the extras around the most popular guy’s narrative. Likewise Jesus Narrative, while Jesus is the most important guy in the room, he’s not the only guy in the room.

Article Narrative Universe - star-wars-expanded

For example Luke Skywalker is the hero for the original trilogy however he is often not even present for the Prequel trilogy, and is just a supporting character to non-existent in much of  the Expanded Universe which can grow just fine without his presence. Likewise Jesus is only physically present in the Four Gospels and Acts, which occupies a slim percentage of the Bible as a whole. The world that the Biblical narrative still has characters like Moses or Paul, not to mention prophets, warlords, kings, commoners, etc. With this world, the Biblical Narrative invites narratives outside the bible. Most prevalent being the Saints in Catholic tradition (for all the cool shit they did to become Saints). While Bible is deep enough that a lifetime can be dedicated to it, it still allows inspiration for more narratives such as the early Christian Martyrs to Jesus as a Punk Rocker.

It’s a Universal Narrative

The stories that remain constantly popular and still resonate throughout generations are the ones have something to offer to anyone who read them, holding universal themes like love, death, fate etc. Classics such as The Great Gatsby still resonate with our generation as it’s about the pursuit of love and wealth, while Great Expectations is about class and perception thereof. 

Article Jesus Narrative - Classical Literature

For the Jesus narrative, it’s most common theme is spiritual, easily the most popular element of the Bible and why it still remains the most popular book to this day. However for Non-Christians, there are the stories of the early Hebrews to the parables of Jesus, stories often carry universal life lessons (it’s awesome if you help a unconscious guy lying by the side of the road).  But it was written to also to appeal to some of universal life lessons and stories we share. Even within Jesus’s actual narrative he’s God being human, or a revolutionary challenging the high priests, it’s themes hold together the narrative that will continue to remain popular for generations to come.