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.
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.
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.
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.
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.