In my time off from blogging one constant thought has been the increased focus on the obligation the design community has to future generations. The arts and creativity are the potential of the fututre and intrinsic to this, fortunately, are the deep seated instincts of designers to to good things for the world
Avatar Movie Serves Lessons for Brand
Cinema serves and important role beyond its entertainment value. Cinema portends popular thought, identifies emerging trends, and stokes emotional issues
James Cameron’s new movie, Avatar, is an epic of story-telling and technology. And, it is a must-see for marketers and branders
The movie is a tale set in the future on a planet ominously named ‘Pandora’. The native population are Nav’i – larger than life bi-ped life forms, similar to humans but less “advanced” – yet more spiritual and connected to nature. Humans are present on the planet, mining a precious element appropriately called “unobtanium”. They are doing so without the permission of the local populace, and are hell-bent on protecting their investment, no matter the price.
The movie covers many themes at once, each delicately intertwined into an emotionally moving story. Destruction of nature and cultures is a strong theme. There is love and betrayal. There is the evil, conscienceless corporation, supported tacitly by government (and their military), fueling the corporations’ insatiable drive for profit.
One could even assert that Pandora represents the USA and their partners military actions in the Iraq and Afghanistan. Today’s oil is tomorrow’s unobtanium. Or, that Pandora represents landowners in China, who are being exploited by savage development (that is certainly a concern of Beijing)
Whilst it would be easy to dismiss Avatar as another visual treat and story-telling masterpiece by Cameron (Titanic, Terminator, Alien), that would be short-sighted. There is a definite lesson here for brands.
Corporate behavior matters. It matters now, and is going to matter more and more in the years to come. The recent Copenhagen Summit may not have resulted in governments agreeing on saving the planet (yet), but it is opening eyes around the world among consumers about the issues we face, and how inter-connected we all are – governments, industry and consumers.
And activism is growing. These same consumers who buy our products and services (or shun them), are becoming part of movements to make policy, change policy, police corporations and products. From Obama’s election in the USA (and the more recent ‘tea parties’), to protests in China about development, to protests for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, to leadership changes in Japan, people are speaking out, and acting out.
Consumers are beginning to reward corporations who embrace earth and human-friendly policies and make it a critical part of their product and service development. Asian consumers will soon begin adding this criteria to their filters when evaluating brands and products for purchase. This kind of activism is already present in the West, one need only look at the grass-roots activism in China, India and other markets in Asia to know that it is coming east.
Brands need to prepare, plan and protect. Moviegoers are flocking to see this film, and seeing it multiple times. Emotions are palpably high. These are your customers, today and tomorrow. This is how they are viewing the world, their leaders, and their brands