A Page from Hollywood
If there's one thing marketers can learn from Hollywood, it's this: sometimes it's okay to revive, restore, and reinvent the classics.
The upcoming "Masters of the Universe: Revelations" film offers a terrific example.
If you're of a certain age, you definitely remember He-Man, Master of the Universe. You might have even spent a few years as a kid running around shirtless with an imaginary sword screaming, "I have the POWAAAAAA!"
Yet unless you're hoarding collectable action figures in your basement, the last time you probably thought of He-Man was when Masters of the Universe, the live-action feature starring Dolph Lundgren, hit theatres... on August 7, 1987.
But thanks to Netflix, we'll be hearing about He-Man again soon!
A Netflix Original, "Masters of the Universe: Revelation" is a star-studded animated movie directed by Kevin Smith and premiering on July 23, 2021... exactly two weeks shy of 34 years since the last He-Man film debuted. Have a look at the trailer:
If you're of a certain age, watching that probably gave you chills. It may have even taken you back to your childhood and allowed you to briefly relive some fond memories of your youth.
That nostalgia is powerful!
So why don't marketers tap into it more often?
Do you think a reimagined "Where's the Beef" ad could work? I certainly do. In fact, Wendy's missed the perfect opportunity to do it when it launched its Plantiful burger last year: "Where's the Beef? There's no beef... and that's okay!"
How about a modern-day, "Like Mike" spot? Absolutely, although admittedly, Michael Jordan has been retired for years and the updated ad would likely require an updated athlete. But how difficult would it be to update the familiar jingle with a different name? ("Like Abby, I wanna be like Abby...")
Of course, there are a few reasons we don't see old ideas reinvented very often. Companies change agencies (too) frequently, and who owns the creative idea isn't always black and white. Agencies like to be creative and win awards... and using an "old" idea is less sexy and has less chance of earning any trophies than creating something new. Marketers like to make their mark, and it isn't easy to admit that someone else's campaign will be more appropriate than anything you and your team can come up with.
But those are terrible reasons not to bring back great ideas if they can still work.
Think about Loblaws, who refreshed their classic "Worth Switching Supermarkets For" campaign starring Dave Nichols with a new face many years later: Loblaw Companies Limited scion (and now Executive Chairman of the company) Galen Weston Jr.
Think about IKEA, who updated its 2002 "Lamp" commercial (one of my favourite all-time ads) in 2018 to promote the idea of reusing and recycling our old things instead of throwing them away. The ad is actually a continuation of the spot from 16 years before... and it works brilliantly!
Ocean's 11. The Italian Job. Cinderella. Beauty & The Beast. Aladdin. A Star is Born. Mulan.
Hollywood isn't shy about taking movies from our past and bringing them back for us to enjoy again in a "new and improved" way. They may need to update a few elements so that the young people we cajole to watch them with us will also enjoy them... but the core idea usually remains the same because the core idea works.
There's no reason to shy away from a great idea that works just because you weren't the one who had it.
Marketers should take note.