By Patrick Nycz
Please convince me that Planet of the Apes, released in 1968, is a work of masterful celluloid movie making worthy of 43+ years of movie sequels & reboots, TV spinoffs, cartoons, comic books, toys and a major spot in our pop culture lexicon. Granted, it is a cool concept and cautionary tale of the future that every sci-fi fan, regardless of their degree of geek, can buy into. But in my opinion, it had one impressive thing going for it: It set the gold standard for a brand launch.
Although I saw it sometime in a later run—in the early 70s—I did not know much about it when I walked into the theater with my friends. I’m sure the general appeal of apes running the show was the big draw. This movie looked like a natural fit. This was before I had an electric guitar, so my world pretty much revolved around science fiction, comic books, and Creature Feature horror movies starring Vincent Price or Godzilla.
So I’m maybe 11 and really enjoying the movie. The men are manly and tough (hey, isn’t that astronaut Moses?), the women are foxy (it was the 70s) and didn’t talk (remember, I’m 11) and the apes are simply a fantastic cocktail of believable freaky awesomeness.
Then comes the final scene. Nothing prepared me for that moment. I’m sure every person who saw that for the first time had a similar feeling. It was like the mental wind got knocked out of me. Seeing the Statue of Liberty half buried in the sand rewrote the context. This is us. This could happen.
Did you know that the Statue of Liberty ending was written by Rod Sterling of Twilight Zone fame? It was the only thing the movie studio kept from his original screenplay draft. Sterling knew a thing or two about surprising an audience.
I would argue that the whole Planet of the Apes franchise would have come and gone without the Statue of Liberty moment. In fact, every brand could use a Statue of Liberty moment to cement their story in the prospect’s mind.
I recently used the Planet of the Apes analogy when we were discussing a brand launch with my team. The product is a snack food that will leverage its toe-hold in the restaurant/foodservice industry and move into the grocery/retail business as the brand matures and production lines are increased to meet demand.
Our client’s product currently enjoys some limited success in a handful of European-themed restaurants in the U.S., but the plan is to make a huge impact with our own Apes/Statue of Liberty-style brand launch at the next National Restaurant Show. Rest assured, we will not be using apes—and Charlton Heston is dead—but we have a few tricks up our sleeve.
As a matter of fact, IDC currently has several brand launches underway in environment, agriculture, consumer food, financial, and software categories. Each product or division launch has invested in a branding program that has laid the foundation for the launch and subsequent integrated marketing programs to follow.
Here is another thing we can learn from the rise of the brand of Planet of the Apes: As important as a launch is, the follow through is what will make all the difference in longevity and success of the brand. No telling how big Planet of the Apes could have been if the studio brass has laid out the plot lines of the next 3-4 movies instead of making it up as they went along.
Companies that invite IDC to help them are not monkeying around (sorry, couldn’t resist). They are typically organizations that believe a strong brand foundation, marketing program and launch will connect with their target audience, make an impact in their category, and increase their margins.
__________________________________________________________About the Author: Patrick Nycz is the president and owner of idc, he is currently working with his team to develop both “Statue of Liberty moments” for his clients’ brand launches and following up with programs that ensure decades of profits, spin-offs and increased market share in the category. He spends his days, among other things, as a marketing strategist, account exec, chief cheerleader, salesman, and excitable creative. Get connected to Patrick at LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter at @PatrickNycz or email him at email@example.com. Also “like” idc on Facebook.