The Last Jedi and the Modern Art of Storytelling

The Last Jedi and the Modern Art of Storytelling

Author: Vivek Mehra | Categories: Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Customer Experience, Demand Generation

Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell! - Seth Godin

So, I saw The Last Jedi in the 2nd week of its release – abysmally late by the standards of the Star Wars fanbase but quite enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but marvel at the revenue generated by this one single movie in the franchise - $1B in the first week itself, not counting the merchandising, DVD sales, theme park admissions, etc., that are likely to garner at least 4 times that in the weeks, months, and years to come!

The Star Wars franchise is a wondrous work of storytelling and continues to hold several lessons for digital marketers. Of course, we know content is king, and good content reigns supreme. But, it is the ingenuity in storytelling and the cross-channel linking of that content that uplifts otherwise ordinary content to garner such fantastic revenue and cross-generation customer loyalty.

From a content perspective, The Last Jedi is amazingly contextual for a vast swathe of customer segments. It has built-in nostalgia (weaving cleverly Luke, Leia, and Chewy into the narrative) – very relevant for the 70s’ boomer generation. It has racial and gender diversity attractive to today’s millennials and more reflective of today’s society. This is achieved through a wholly new maverick cast of characters led by the female protagonist Rey, along with Finn, Poe, and several others. It gives an appreciative and timely nod to the real AI boom we are witnessing in our lives – through the variety of humanoid and robotic cameos in the narrative.

So, while the story is fairly traditional and humanistic with a basic good vs. evil battle, the subaltern messaging of human virtues is a masterclass in storytelling. Every good story has a villain worth fighting against, and an alternative worth fighting for – in this case, the conflicted Kylo Ren and the empire fighting against the underdog rebels. These very human and societal stresses are highly relatable to a modern audience and available in the Jedi in spades. They are hugely critical to the appeal of the story. The Last Jedi is replete with lessons in courage, leadership, resilience, respect, tolerance, personal sacrifice, and even references the very contemporary societal wave of mindfulness and meditation.

Like any good story, The Last Jedi doesn’t leave you when you leave the theater. The story continues to unfold outside the theater as well into a continuous experience – you encounter the Disney brand and Star Wars story on social media, in the theme parks, in toy stores, video games and all sorts of traditional and digital media channels.

As a digital marketer, if you are looking for revenue growth and ROI, think back on how the story of your brand is constructed and how it is being delivered. Ask yourself:

  • Is it continuous?

  • Is it contemporary, relevant, and contextual?

  • Is it immersive and robust on emotional content?

  • Is it simplified, personalized, and understandable?

  • Is it engaging and ultimately actionable (transact-able)?

Good content is table-stakes, but enabling the story of your brand, product, and service to be continuously seen, heard, and understood by your customer will get you closer to your revenue goals. Technology, of course, is the plumbing needed to deliver on your story, and the need for the right digital integration partner to make it happen has never been greater.

Finally, once again in the words of Seth Godin…

People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic…