How to think Like an Ad Man to build your project’s Identity.
One of my most loved TV series has always been MAD MEN. When Don Draper walked in a room with his ideas and visual pitches for the client he was trying to sign, he did it impeccably and with a few images and slogans that said it all.
His theory has proof in the pudding: “ You are the product- you feeling something- that’s what sells”. Which is precisely why we all are glued to our Television screens during Super Bowl to watch the commercials that make us tear up or incite some emotion in us. And when that happens, we talk about it on Social Media and we just contributed to that brand’s reach.
Now you must wonder, how does this apply to my creative work? I am not trying to sell an ad.
And I am here to tell you, that you are always SELLING SOMETHING, to anybody who reads your material and can take it to the next level , to the actor who may want to do your film, to a financier with a big fat check book ready to be written, to a fan who will rave about your film increasing its revenue, to a Festival that will decide to accept and showcase your work there.
I am asking you, while you read this, to think like Don Draper.
I have seen hundreds of “leave behind materials” for finished films, films in development, film in production, scripts for sale, books for adaptation, reality series, mini- series, you name it. I have read short packages, long packages, perused websites, watched sizzles and mood trailers.
For me, these “leave behind materials” got me to say YES or NO in my head even before I got to read the script or watch the movie. Because I had an EMOTIONAL REACTION and I wanted to have an IMMERSION EXPERIENCE of the world I was watching or reading about.
Below are some tips for applying the ad man mentality to improve on your presentations, visual or written and your overall brand.
WHY SHOULD I CARE? This is something that your audience will ask themselves the moment they turn the page or click the play button. The visual- the scene that sucks me into your world, written or shot, has to make me feel. If I am a horror fan, I need a good kill. If I am an adrenaline junkie, I want to believe I am also in danger, if I am a hopeless romantic, then woo me to fall in love with your protagonist, pushing the dream boat or dream girl buttons.
DON’T TELL ME HOW TO FEEL, SHOW ME. The opening scene is everything. Make it a great one, not because you want to convince me it is so, but show it to me with whatever you can use with you to the point words to make me care. The first images of the trailer or the sizzle have to give me a high. And things that are slow to build, dialogue heavy and poor quality productions ain’t gonna do it. Do you ever watch the local commercials? I do not think so. Because they are amateur hour! But we watch the Super Bowl commercial. They are BIG and want to have us spend BIG money on what it is they want to sell us.
DON’T COMPARE. You are not here to persuade me to like you by comparing me to other equally likeable things, projects, movies that made it to the big screen and made money . It’s as if you wanted to take a man or woman out on a date and you wanted to convince them to say yes by speaking about other men or women of equal value that you dated. I would not feel flattered. Nobody wants a copy cat. Don’t believe the Hollywood hype. In a world of remakes and reboots, where we think originality has failed , there has always been the FRESH TAKE that made the unoriginal become original. As an executive, I do not need to see pie charts with box office numbers of similar movies. If I cant’ guess it on my own,then your project was not clear enough which would make you want to rethink all of the paragraphs above.
Therefore, as you prepare your pitch deck, your business plan, your sizzle, your trailer, your marketing package, your Facebook page, your web site, remember another Don Draper piece of advice: If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.
So, if your buyer , your audience, does not get engaged by your creative genius, please remember these simple ad man tricks and essentials for your Brand’s identity:
BE VISUAL- communicate through images.
BE MEANINGFUL- ask your friends and associates if the essence of your brand cultivates an emotion (hopefully not disgust) and how strong that emotion is. Take a survey. And re calibrate accordingly.
DON’T BLEND, STAND- You need to make yourself and your work memorable. Use simple names and buzz words that bring about a feeling of uniqueness and novelty. Don’t’ think like an author, think like an ad man. The slogan tells the story.
THINK FUTURE- Make your work timeless. Make it something that can become a cult in the future or pop or conversation worthy for the years to come. One of the biggest mistakes I see in packages is the mentioning of franchise, installments, thinking years ahead for your series. If your work is timeless, I will be the one who will want to franchise or merchandise it or spin it off. I won’t need your pitch for it.
OPEN UP YOUR WORLD TO THE AUDIENCE- Accessibility is everything. Any movie, book , comic book, series that stood the stand of time was not obscure or hard to understand. It managed to draw attention even from its not obvious audience. If people can easily interpret it, they will google it for years to come.
The Wow Factor is the key that unlocks all sales doors.