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Using movies to bring brand purpose to life

Rene Depaus

Business & Strategy Director



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Using movies to bring brand purpose to life

For at least six decades now, brand positioning arguably has been the most basic staple for marketers in building brands. Although the origin of positioning concept is still unclear, it became popular after being coined by Al Ries & Jack Trout in their monumental book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind in 1981. His thought was quite simple: “As a brand, what position do you want to occupy in the mind?”. But now, we live in a very different world. How should brand positioning works for today’s audience, in today’s world of technological advancement? Is the idea of brand positioning still relevant now?

If we look at some of the more recent thoughts on the concept of positioning, it is evident that the idea has evolved. Positioning nowadays can lead to fanatical support of a brand by consumers who feel unity with other buyers and consider it their duty to recommend it (Kendukhov, 2008).

Brands now have interconnected challenges. To build a brand in a connected world, we need a more complete view of the brand’s role and then must develop a strategic advantage from it. A brand cannot be successful just by delighting customers; it needs to keep attracting people, and must retain them by bringing brand positioning to life in an appealing, relevant way. Then it can create an emotional and deeply personal connection with them. Brands need to occupy the heart, not only the mind; be loved, not only considered.

Some of the brands achieving the greatest success at this have done it by collaboration with much-loved movie brands. General Motors’ began their love affair with Transformers in 2007. A super-successful toy line and animation series in the 1980s, Transformers was loved by many children. And it helps that by 2007 those children have grown up to become a market of potential car owners. After the Transformers movies were launched, Chevrolet Camaro became the market leader in its segment. More than 70 percent of Camaros bought in China are yellow, the same color as the character Bumblebee. Movies works well for brands because they create an emotional feeling for the audience.

In Indonesia, the movie industry is currently experiencing “a new golden age”. Household wealth is increasing and a more open policy on foreign investment is encouraging major film studios and distributors to invest more. Growth in the cinema sector is monstrous; ticket sales in 2017 were almost 260 percent higher than in 2015. There were 900 screens across the country in 2015; this will have risen to 2,400 by the end of 2019. Local film production is also booming: in 2013, only two local movies sold more than 1 million tickets, and in 2018 13 achieved this. However, we have not seen enough brands cleverly using this opportunity to bring their positioning to life.

In 2018 Avengers: Infinity War break the box office with $1.79 million in sales on the first day, surpassed by Dilan 1991, a local production, which made USD $2.05 million on its first day in 2019. TANGO, the popular wafer brand that has been around since the early 1990s, has successfully embedded its brand positioning into the characters of the movie. The film was set in the 1990s, and the link resonated both with consumers who remember that period as well as younger millennials interested in “retro” culture.

As we see in Hollywood, some current Indonesian movie releases are also based on popular vintage characters and ideas. Warkop DKI Reborn, one of the country’s all-time top ticket-selling movies, is based on famous characters from the 1970s. Other retro movies include Wiro Sableng 212, Keluarga Cemara, and the upcoming Gundala Putra Petir.

Go-Jek have managed to utilize Keluarga Cemara to help bring to life their brand positioning in a very emotional way. Developed by their new entertainment arm subsidiary, GoStudio, the film’s characters and story beautifully portray Go-Jek’s brand values: pride, public welfare, and brotherhood. Many people have been inspired to use more of Go-Jek’s services since seeing the movie; some have even taken up work as Go-Jek drivers, now seeing it as a job to be proud of.

Movies are just one of many ways of bringing a brand’s positioning to life. However, given the current pace of growth in the Indonesian movie industry, brands are missing a big opportunity if they fail to utilize this sector more to win the hearts and minds of Indonesian movie-goers.