We've been thinking a lot about the overlap between films and marketing lately, and one in particular stands out. So there’s Wayne’s World the movie and there’s Wayne’s World the show that takes place within the movie. That part might get a little confusing, but we think there are things to learn about marketing from both. Courtesy of yours truly, here are a few marketing lessons to take from Wayne’s World.
#1 - Product Placement Should Be Organic or Funny
“Kids can spot phonies. They’re very smart.”
When brainstorming this blog, there was one scene that stood out as needing mention: the sell-out scene, where Garth and Wayne, suddenly landing multiple sponsors, have a dramatic change to their image and way of talking, with heavy product placement for brands like Pepsi, Pizza Hut, and Doritos.
Audiences knew what the movie was doing here. It was making fun of the over-the-top sponsorships that rip viewers out of the story to try to grab sales. Did the movie legitimately help the sales of Nuprin by including the distracting cut to the black-white-and-yellow shot, with the “little, yellow, different” tagline? It was memorable, but no. That wasn’t the point. It was a parody of the kind of inauthentic tactic that isn’t very persuasive. But you know what is? Seeing people have fun with brands or desiring them in genuine ways. Thus, Wayne drooling over a Fender guitar or Garth’’s licorice indulgence in the mirth mobile is a perfect example of product placement done well. It contrasts so starkly to the “sellout” scene that it doesn’t even feel like product placement. It feels like a part of the silly world you’re watching. But wait, there’s one more notable example
#2 - Connect Through Pop Culture
“Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?”
From the classic Grey Poupon commercial, reference, to a full-blown Laverne and Shirley montage. Wayne’s World is full of pop culture references that make the viewer feel in on the joke. The sudden appearance of the police officer looking for John Connor, for example, would be bizarre and confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the Terminator franchise. Including it is a fun way for the film and its creators to say “we like the same things you do, and we speak your language.”
#3 - Music Matters
“No Stairway. Denied.”
Odds are, if you’re familiar with this movie, reading about it right now has made you hum the “Wayne’s World, Party Time, Excellent” theme song, not because it’s really good, but because it’s iconic. It gets stuck in your head. It’s catchy. Jingles and theme do a lot to establish the tone of a brand and help people to remember it, even if they aren’t good music, per se. That’s why it’s such a big deal to the plot of the film when the executives change the theme music to a more polished version when they take over. It completely changes the tone and doesn’t authentically fit the show.
Wayne’s World the movie also has a fantastic soundtrack. From the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” head-banging scene, to the way it shows off Cassandra and Crucial Taunt as musicians, it’s clear how important music is to the film and its characters. Even the use of incidental music like “Dream Weaver” and “Foxy Lady” to setup fantasy scenes is a huge part of what makes the movie entertaining and successful. This is true of sound in general as well.
#4 - Connections Don’t Matter… NOT
“It’s actually pronounced ‘Mill-E-Wah-Que’ which is Algonquin for ‘The Good Land.’”
Alice Cooper is just one of the celebrities who make cameos in this movie. The creators understood that each public figure to sign on or endorse the film was an expansion of their reach and publicity. We may not love the way this works, but these kinds of connections don’t hurt.
Similarly, as part of the story, Wayne and Garth understand the importance of making connections for their show. Now, sure, they trusted the wrong guys when it comes to Benjamin and Russell, but they were already leveraging the reach of guests like the inventor of the Suck Kut on their show before this. And of course, there would be no happy ending to the movie without their conversation with the limo driver (Chris Farley) and the resulting connection they make with Mr. Big, the music executive.
#5 - Timing is Key
“You can take a flying [jet engine roars]… and you have to find a doctor to pull it out again.”
Timing is a huge key to good humor. The movie has more examples than we can share to demonstrate this. But when it comes to the plot, speaking of Mr. Big, Wayne’s marketing for Crucial Taunt required precise awareness of when and where his audience was going to be. They had to isolate Mr. Big’s location and broadcast at exactly the right time while he was in the right area. If that doesn’t speak to the importance of gathering marketing data, we don’t know what does. Knowing where your audience will be and when is imperative.
So, we’ll leave it at five for now. Although, “play with creative language and perspective,” and “not everything needs a sequel” are practically begging to be on this list. Good marketing —doesn’t have to be— isn’t stuffy. It connects with real people and takes them on a journey. At Greyphin, we have fun destinations in mind. Want to come along for the ride? Sign up for more marketing lessons through our weekly newsletter, appropriately titled: Digital Marketing Weekly.
Until then, party on.