Recently, I’ve watched two films: ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘Any Given Sunday’. On the face of it they would seem to be two completely different genres, and they are. If you are one of the few who don’t know, ‘The Incredibles’ is a 3d animated film about a family of superheroes. ‘Any Given Sunday’, on the other hand, is primarily about American Football. How can they be related? You might well ask. Well the answer is ‘marketing’.
‘The Incredibles’ appeared to my other half and myself as a ‘safe’, OK, but uninteresting film. Why this is in my opinion is because it is an obvious attempt by marketing men and women to specify the contents and plot of a film. The aim of this shrewd move, for it is shrewd, very shrewd, is to come up with a product. Let’s face it, a film is a product and like any other product it needs to generate a return on investment and to achieve this it needs to sell, or rather be seen by as many people as possible. How exactly do you ensure that everyone wants to see your film? Good question. Well, what you seem to have to do is pick a safe style, the 70s in the case of ‘The Incredibles’, and use tried and trusted aspects of other long time audience favourites. To this end,’ The Incredibles’ would appear to take cues from ‘James Bond’ and ‘Mission Impossible’ and other such old favourites. By going down the ‘safe’ road, you try to produce a product which appeals to as many different categories of people as possible. Anyone who knows a bit about marketing, will know what the ‘target audience’ for a product is. Sometimes, the target audience can be potentially very small. How many people do you know that can afford a Ferrari? Other times, this ‘target’ can be enormous. Toilet rolls anyone?
With a film, you need to try to catch the interest of as many people as possible and your audience is not just the population of the US of A, but everyone who lives on the planet and has access to some way of watching a movie. This means an enormous proportion of the world’s population. To generate such a universal appeal, you need to know the market inside out. You need to know what makes people in Rio laugh, and what may offend the population of China, etcetera, etcetera. The result of this striving to reach to holy grail of something which is acceptable throughout the world is, I’m afraid, mediocrity. A ‘safe’ clean and wholesome product which does nothing new and breaks no new ground. A product which is designed to sell and no more. Dumbed down, or rather recycled, tightly controlled creativity. Although, ‘creativity’ is probably a rather inappropriate word in this case; ‘adaptability’ would perhaps reflect more closely what went on in the planning process behind ‘The Incredibles’.
The film itself, as I’ve already said, is not bad, but I for one will not be adding it to my DVD collection. Shame this, it had potential.
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
Well, that’s the part about the marketing man’s movie attempt, now, let’s have a look at ‘Any Given Sunday’ and what it has in common with ‘The Incredibles’.
‘Any Given Sunday’ is, I reckon, a highly successful attempt at trying to portray the ‘goings on’ in and around modern ‘professional sport’. Mr Stone, is, it must be said very good at what he does and, very clever in the way that he gets his messages across. Alas though, the message in ‘Any Given Sunday’ is not so poignant as that contained in ‘Platoon’. Most of us, I like to hope, realise that the words ‘professional’ and ‘sport’ make quite unhappy bedfellows. American football or British football (When I use the term ‘football’, I’m referring to all types of the game) are not really sports any more, they are business enterprises, big business activities and they make, if run well, lots of money. The ‘sporting’ aspect was left by the wayside many moons ago. Today, a good on-field ‘performance’ leads to an increase in share prices and to the strengthening of the brand. Obviously, a winning team is a strong brand and will be able to demand premium advertising rates and obtain massive income from TV rights and the like. This is the point ‘Any Given Sunday’ makes; football is a tightly controlled business, run by individuals who want to make money; well the team owner in ‘Any Given Sunday’, played by Cameron Diaz, comes over as someone who is obsessed with winning, but not so much for the pleasure it brings, more so for the financial rewards it can generate. The players are now becoming more savvy nowadays too. While some remain sub-brands of the teams they play for, others, have managed to turn themselves into a ‘stand-alone’ as the jargon goes, brands. Does anyone not know about a certain Mr Beckham? It’s all about good marketing and business strategy. Others have described business as a type of game, well, football is a game which is a type of business. It is not a ‘sport’.
There is a scene in ‘Any Given Sunday’, in which the coach and one of his cohorts refered to the ‘pureness’ of the game. What they meant, if you have not seen this film, was the way in which people play football for the simple fun of doing it and no more. This ‘pureness’ just does not and being honest, cannot exist in a professional environment. Heck, you can even do a courses about ‘football’ management these days. Is this good? Oh, maybe I am naive, but I don’t think it is. But it is necessary.
There you have it two different films. One, the product of marketing, and the other, about marketing.