What The Movies Teach Us About Advertising

I love movies. As a self-styled “cinemaniac,” I tend to see the world in a different way. For me, Steve Martin summed it up all so nicely in Grand Canyon when he said to Kevin Kline:

“All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.”

This blog will offer that same thought pattern:

All of advertising’s riddles are answered in movie quotes.

1. ‘How am I not myself?’ – I Heart Huckabees

Being a New Business Strategist, one must possess a Zelig-like personae.

New business strategy requires some emotional gear-shifting, a reporter’s nose, and a curious mind to dig up enough background information on the business and the individuals working there. You want to be able to speak comfortably and intelligently about your prospect’s industry.

For example: Do you have a client who’s a water vendor? Yesterday, you had no idea what the difference was between spring, tap, quinine or mineral water. Today, you better be the H20 go-to guy.

2. ‘This is the guy, behind the guy, behind the guy.’ – Swingers

One of the toughest things about living in the world of advertising is the simple act of being humble.

Let’s face it: We’re surrounded by people who, for the most part, are just like us. We’re all filled with ideas, passion, creativity and caffeine. We like to think our idea is the best. After all, it was “my” idea. So if someone comes up with something better, chances are you’ll dismiss it or quickly think of a way to top it. Yes, we are a competitive bunch.

The fact of the matter is: These days the atmosphere is no longer as heavy as it once was. There is a new spirit of cooperation and sharing among departments where ideas are welcome without fear of being ridiculed. Like Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley discover in For Richer or Poorer: Together, we can build a better barn. And, while creative still carries much of the load, the burden is not nearly as heavy as it once was.

3. ‘Do you concur? Dammit, why didn’t I concur?!’ – Catch Me if You Can

Frequently it seems as if a great deal of our time is spent either attending meetings or trying to schedule one. Advertising is a fast-paced business. Deadlines are demanding, people are busy, and no matter which agency you happen to stick your head into, everyone appears to be running at full speed on a flaming hamster wheel. Meetings happen on the spur of the moment and often vanish just as quickly.

In our world, there is nothing worse than finally getting that long-awaited meeting with that very special prospect only to have it postponed the night before…or even worse, that same day.

Now that’s one big letdown.

The only thing you can do is suck it up, and reschedule that meeting for another time. Yep, you gotta get back up on that hamster wheel, and ride it into the sunset.

And there are many, many more quotes at my disposal.

Finding meaning in the mundane is really a gussied up version of ‘hear what you want to hear.’ The purpose of this exercise isn’t to find something witty, but, rather, to find something that alters your perception.

And why do this? Altering your perception requires you to re-evaluate something familiar.

So, what’s your favorite line from a movie, and how does it alter your perception? How can you apply it to your job? Give it a try. It’s easier than you think.