Insights

What The Gift Can Teach Marketers About Storytelling

Have you heard of Joel Edgerton?

Maybe you’ve seen him in some roles on the big screen – as Tom in The Great Gatsby or Ramses in Exodus: Gods and Kings – but did you know he’s also an accomplished writer? He’s written movies, and even directed a few shorts, but The Gift is a project all his own: Edgerton wrote, directs, and stars in the film.

The Gift is a story about a young married couple whose lives are turned upside down when an acquaintance from the husband’s past brings mysterious gifts and a horrifying secret to light. The film was made on (by Hollywood standards) a paltry budget of 5 million dollars. Compared to other summer movies – blockbusters like Mission Impossible and The Fantastic Four – The Gift first appeared as an inconsequential, low-budget drama. A thriller for adults.

The Gift became a sleeper hit; it made double its budget and crept up on the box office numbers for The Fantastic Four. Regardless of the fact that the film was released the same weekend as these gigantic popcorn movies we’ve come to know summer for, the impact of the storytelling took it a long way. There wasn’t any superhero star power driving sales, it was the story that brought the audience.

Before The Gift was even released, a writer at Fast Company received a gift from the film’s creepy character, Gordo. The writer, Dan Soloman, noted, “One element of Gordo’s creepiness is the age-old (well, decade-old) tradition of social media stalking—and that’s the element that The Gift brings to its marketing today.”

From the movie’s trailer to it’s social media marketing campaign, The Gift maintained it’s voice. And in a season of movies chock-full of explosive special effects, a distinct voice is timely. Any good marketer will tell you, a distinctive voice and a powerful message are crucial to being heard. The storytelling in The Gift is slow and complex, taking a lot of time to develop the characters and their motives. This pacing was imperative to making it powerful and it’s the same strategy marketers have when trying to connect with their customers in a real way.

Marketing doesn’t have to hit every single customer in every single demographic; sometimes specificity is king. If you trust your brand’s distinct voice, you’ll draw in exactly the right audience the engage with your product.

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