The 2017 Oscars telecast is forever going to be known for its Best Picture award announcement.
If you haven't been paying attention to the Oscars because you're too busy searching for signs of intelligent life in the universe of the president's twit stream, here's what happened.
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were tapped to present the Oscar for last year's Best Picture. Which makes perfect sense. After all, the two of them starred together in Bonnie & Clyde, a landmark film from 50 years ago, nominated for Best Picture because of big violence, sexy anti-heroes, candid sexuality, and the bloodiest, death-scene carnage in the history of cinema.
Of course, Bonnie & Clyde lost to In The Heat Of The Night.
Seems the tale of overcoming racist hatred between Mississippi redneck cop Rod Steiger and black Philadelphia homicide detective Sidney Poitier was more resonant to voting members of the Academy. And maybe that's because they were able to focus wholly on overcoming redneck racism as a social benefit instead of the social benefit of sexy redneck bank robbers with a dysfunctional sex life dying in a hail of bullets at the hands of other pissed off rednecks with badges.
BUT I DIGRESS
Back to the 2017 Oscars telecast.
Warren hands the winner's envelope to Faye, who opens it and says, "Best Picture goes to La La Land!"
And the entire La La Land entourage hits the stage to accept an award that actually went to Moonlight, an important film that nobody has seen. (La La Land cost $30 million to make and has grossed about $400 million worldwide. Moonlight cost $1.5 million to make, and has grossed about as much as La La Land's production budget. Divine justice? You decide.)
Seems the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers who are responsible for the mix-up have been receiving death threats, have had to hire bodyguards, and will never be allowed to work on the Oscars again.
And in the heat of all this awards mix-up stupidity, one of the true winners of the Oscars telecast has been lost in the sauce.
POSSIBLY BECAUSE THEIRS WAS SIMPLE ART AS OPPOSED TO CRAZY SPECTACLE
Everything they did went right.
What they did was create a 60-second homage to Hollywood film that should make any film lover sit up and take note.
We're referring, of course, to the one-minute Rolex commercial, "Celebrating Cinema."
Yes, Hollywood is an industry with $10 billion in annual ticket-sale revenue. Rolex is a luxury watch company with almost $5 billion in annual watch-sale revenue.
Why should the small-business marketer even think about these two behemoths?
Simple. The Rolex "Celebrating Cinema" commercial is a sterling, Swiss-crafted example of how affinity sells, and how a really good brand with a really good advertisement can be aspirational, and make the prospect want to be part of the club.
60 LITTLE SECONDS, 19 STUNNING FILMS, LOTS OF ROLEX WATCHES
The commercial opens with a classic scene from The Pink Panther, with Peter Sellers saying that it's time to synchronize watches. And to do so, he lifts his Rolex-clad wrist.
In rapid succession, 18 astonishingly lengthy, emotion-packed clips flip across the screen. They are from:
The Color Of Money
I Love You Philip Morris
The Fugitive Kind
Dead Man Down
The Usual Suspects
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
The montage ends with Charles Bronson looking at his watch--er, his Rolex, and saying, "Just about...now."
FADE IN TITLE: It doesn't just tell time. It tells history.
FADE IN: ROLEX LOGO.
This montage is a stellar piece of filmmaking in its own right. Two dozen actors. Nineteen emotionally evocative scenes. Nineteen Rolex watches. A poetic tagline.
AND IF YOU ARE THE RIGHT PERSON, YOU CAN'T HELP BUT WANT A ROLEX
If you love good filmmaking and fine jewelry, this commercial leaps off the screen and makes you feel only one thing: the desire for a Rolex watch.
Both the Fabulous Honey Parker and I had the exact same reaction: Damn, that makes it sexy. I want one.
And part of the reason it works is because the watch is never forced.
Instead, the watch surfs on the credibility of the performances.
Powerful actors are doing evocative work and displaying the watch, which becomes a quiet costar.
It is hot.
THIS IS A CLASSIC CASE OF POTENT AFFINITY ADVERTISING
Affinity advertising is in no way limited to a multi-million-dollar telecast for a multi-billion-dollar industry paid for by multi-billion-dollar sponsors.
Ever been to a kid's soccer game and seen the local sponsors' signs on the fence?
That is a simple example of affinity advertising. Soccer moms will feel really good about supporting those businesses that help make their kids' sport possible.
Our client in rural New Hampshire, Dr. Sam's Eye Care, sponsors local auto racing. Auto racing fans flock to him.
In radio, any station with a cult following is bound to generate an affinity bond between its listeners and its advertisers--if the advertisements are properly executed. I've seen it happen in genres from Christian radio to political talk to alternative rock.
TAPPING INTO THE LOVE OF A FAN IS POTENT INDEED
Granted, if you are a small-business marketer, you are unlikely to ever have the power of millions of dollars of filmmaking at your disposal.
It's even unlikely that you'll ever do anything half as artful as this potent minute of film. It's almost cheating, because Rolex is riding on the coattails of other people's art.
But, you can have impactful advertising that is artful. That is well-crafted. That makes your prospect say, "Wow, I want one."
It has even been done with Rolex watches.
Years ago, Wizard of Ads Roy Williams wrote a commercial that opened with you standing in the snow, "five and one half miles above sea level, gazing at a horizon hundreds of miles away. It occurs to you that life here is very simple: You live, or you die. No compromises, no whining, no second chances."
Mr. Williams was putting the listener into the boots of Sir Edmund Hillary summiting Everest.
The commercial ends by saying, "In every life there is a Mount Everest to be conquered. When you have conquered yours, you'll find your Rolex waiting patiently for you to come and pick it up at Justice Jewelers. I'm Woody Justice, and I've got a Rolex for you."
A single storyteller's voice. The heroic Kiwi standing at the very top of the earth. The Swiss timepiece on his wrist. You and your own conquests.
It is a crystalline moment of impactful storytelling and vivid imagery relating to one of mankind's epic deeds.
KABLAM! YOU WANT A ROLEX!
I sure did.
Never before in my life had I wanted a Rolex--until hearing that message.
It's irrational, for sure.
It is simple desire.
I have no need for a Rolex. I no longer race yachts professionally. My budget skews more towards Rolex's lesser Swiss cousin, Tissot.
But the power of that simple radio commercial, which cost less to make than it cost to even think about producing the Oscars commercial, is extraordinary.
It was so powerful and so effective, it put Justice Jewelers on the map--and on the radar at Rolex, who was wondering how this jeweler in the U.S. heartland surrounded by cows and mobile homes was selling so many multi-thousand-dollar watches.
AFFINITY IS YOUR FRIEND
It comes in the form of sponsoring the right events.
It comes in the form of telling stories that the customer can identify with.
It comes in the form of understanding aspiration and sinking an emotional hook deep into the psyche. It has to be emotional because that is how the brain makes decisions.
It definitely does not come in the form of shoving a sales message down the prospect's throat.
It's about recognizing who they are and where they live, and showing them a shiny jewel.
Other small businesses have done it. You can do it. And you can be immensely profitable.
Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.