The world is certainly watching “The Hunger Games.” Box office insiders have it pegged as the top-grossing film of 2012. Meanwhile, sales of the book are rivaling “Twilight.” However, fans are receiving much more than just a blockbuster movie and a killer read. They are receiving a primer in how to be successful marketer. Below are five lessons to be learned from the exceptional story from Suzanne Collins:
1. It’s all about the packaging. In his unveiling of Katniss and Peeta to the world, Cinna took a negative and turned it into a positive. Given that they were from District 12 (the poor mining district), Katniss wondered if they were to be dressed as miners or stripped naked and covered in coal dust. Instead, he made Katniss “the girl who was on fire,” right down to the synthetic flame of the headdress. Yes, when you’re competing against 11 other products on the global stage, it helps to be the one that’s on fire.
2. Don’t be afraid to flaunt your talents. Within a company, marketing can get lost in the mix if it isn’t communicated properly to everyone (the CEO, the CFO, IT, everyone). That’s why it’s good to remember that if you’ve got the skills and your peers are ignoring you, make them notice. Or shoot right at their heads just like Katniss, who unleashed an arrow straight at the Gamemakers’ table, skewering an apple that sat before them in a pig’s mouth and pinned it to the wall. Your message needs to be communicated loud and clear, just like hers.
3. Don’t be afraid to make your own rules. Today it’s Pinterest. Yesterday it was Facebook. Who knows what the next hot marketing channel will be. Marketers have more opportunity than ever to share their brand with the world. This means taking risks, experimenting and making up new rules as they go. (SPOILER ALERT) Like Katniss and Peeta, who threatened the Gamemakers with their poison berries, marketers need to consider drastic measures as the media mix continues to evolve daily.
4. You’ll never survive without your sponsors. Let’s call this one the homage to Rush Limbaugh. It’s one thing to be edgy and a challenger brand, but you still need to be likable enough to have supporters (or, in his case, sponsors). Otherwise, you will end up like Rush or Belvedere vodka—left trying to explain and coping with lost revenue. Katniss and Peeta received several gifts from their sponsors just in the nick of time. None was more important than the medicine Katniss received to save Peeta and herself.
5. Make sure your message is humanly relevant. Katniss deliberated with Haymitch as to how she should handle her debut interview. How would she portray herself to the world? She opted to tell the truth about her family and her sister Prim, whom she loved dearly. Today more than ever, it’s important to be humanly relevant. It’s too easy to be numb with all of the messaging thrown our way. Consumers want to feel emotion. They also want someone or something to root for— make that your brand.
Kenneth Hein is director of North American marketing for gyro, the global ideas shop
Follow him @KennethHein