What Vampire-Hunting Abraham Lincoln Can Teach Us about Modern Marketing?

History prefers legends to men. It prefers nobility to brutality, soaring speeches to wild deeds.
– Abraham Lincoln (on the film Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter)

I saw Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter yesterday (Yes, I watch lot of movies).
And actually I quite liked it (And yes, I have a soft-spot for trashy b-movies).

Instead of the film, I was actually more impressed about the whole phenomenon. Originally a best-selling novel released in 2010, there is lots to learn about this unlikely pairing of bloodsuckers and American President with an axe:

1. We live in age of mash-ups
Whether it is combining Pinterest with Facebook timeline. Or putting up vocals of Will Smith over old philly disco track. The major skill is nowadays to combine existing elements and come up with something exciting from them. Advertising has traditionally been good at combining popular culture phenomenon with business objectives. In the digital age, those connections just have to be faster and more innovative.

2. Great stories are always in high demand
Everyone is familiar with the basic myth of blood-sucking, silver-fearing, shadowless and pale vampires. And hopefully nearly everyone knows also the basic history of Abraham Lincoln. By utilizing these two familiar stories, you ensure that people have enough common touchpoints in the story to identify with. Creating a totally new character or a brand requires much effort: especially time and money. That is the reason why Hollywood is so keen to revisit the same superhero stories all over again. Or why the companies revisit old brands or ads. Old connection is easier to bring back than to create totally new connection.

3. You have to recognize the potential and take risks
Apparently the writer Seth Grahame-Smith saw that there were two kinds of books in bestselling lists during the time he started writing the book: Abraham Lincoln autobiographies and vampire novels (mainly the Twilight-series). This is just really simple yet totally brilliant business thinking. Have two proven target groups, combine them and see how it will turn out. And actually Grahame-Smith had already done even more unconventional pairing before Abraham Lincoln-book. On his book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” he marred Jane Austen with zombies. Needless to say, that book was bestseller as well.

The movie itself has done modestly: gathering about half of the estimated production budget in US box office.If the film will not be success when international screenings are counted in as well, there is still one thing left learn from this:

“Past success does not predit your future success at all”

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