Epic Marketing

One of the greatest movie epics of all time (courtesy of The Art of Writing)

Have you watched an "epic" movie which left an indelible mark on your consciousness? What about a book which you couldn't forget years after you're done reading?

Truth is, we all love great epics. Massive in scale and scope, they have the power to inspire us with awe, move us viscerally, and set our imaginations on fire.

Epics can take many shapes. Movies, books, songs, artworks, plays, musicals, exhibitions, buildings... the list is long.

Spectacular, sweeping and majestic, a successful epic is bold and ambitious. Taking years to develop, nothing is left to chance in the conception, development and choreography of an epic. Every single detail is painstakingly crafted to achieve a deep emotional impact that resonates with its audience, readers and listeners.

Businesses can be epic too.

Consider the tale of how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created Apple, or how Mark Zuckerberg worked feverishly in his college dorm to build Facebook. Tales of entrepreneurial fervour transforming industries and economies are commonplace in management literature. Often, the towering monolithic skyscrapers owned by corporate conglomerates provide the perfect backdrop for "epic" multi-billion dollar deals.

Naturally, marketing can also be epic. I'm sure we can all recall a particularly moving advertisement or a spectacular PR stunt which generated lots of buzz both offline and online. Like their artistic counterparts, a great marketing campaign moves hearts, stirs emotions, and excites its audience to respond in a positive manner.

What should one consider in an epic marketing effort?

The first thing to craft is your script. What are the main messages that you wish to convey? What are the contexts (environment, issues, socio-cultural concerns) that one should be mindful of? How should the tale be concluded such that the desired effect is achieved?

Normally, most epic stories have the following ingredients:
- Larger than life characters;
- Some form of struggle or conflict;
- A hero and villain (or villains);
- A twist to the plot which surprises and keeps people hanging on;
- A reward/ celebration towards the end. 

Apple's 1984 advertisement was certainly an epic one!

To develop an awe-inspiring campaign, invest in the best creative talent that your money can buy. Where possible, ask to see the track record of your creatives and seek their permission to speak to their previous clients. Also, find a way to work with your creative agency such that you can give them as much flexibility as possible to create the most imaginatively inspiring work while remaining within certain business guidelines. (I know it's not easy!)

Next, consider your available assets and resources - intellectual property, physical infrastructure, channels, money, manpower or leaders. How much budget do you have to execute this campaign? What back story can you develop weaving in your various properties? Can you leverage on OPM (Other People's Media) to achieve a larger than life impact? What can you do given your current team of executives, managers and staff?

From there, you should think about the platforms that you'd leverage on to convey the message. Can you afford TV or cinema advertising? If not, what about weaving in an outdoor guerrilla marketing element? Naturally, social media channels are critical in generating word of mouth and viral effects. However, they need to be handled with care.

Do also consider the "props" and interactive elements that can be woven into your epic marketing activity. Is there a way to involve your audience in the action? The more physically and emotionally invested they are in your marketing tale, the better.

Find ways to also make the experience as vivid and immersive as possible. This may entail building a 3D display somewhere, or creating an action-packed event which engages the senses and stirs the emotions. Where possible, every action - and reaction - should be scripted and accounted for.

Once the media channels are considered, think about how campaign success will be measured. Where possible, go beyond just eyeballs/awareness to include engagement, "buzz", sharing, brand affinity, purchase intention, and recall. More importantly, study how other organisations have translated winning epic efforts into ringing cash tills.

Do you agree that epic marketing works in this day and age? What are your favourite epic marketing campaigns?

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