A PERSPECTIVE ON BRANDING

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I saw this on my drive today and had to pull over and snap a picture. While perhaps slightly off-topic in a film music forum, the lesson in branding and advertising is relevant, if not simply entertaining, since we’re all movie buffs here.

Jack was looking for a memorable slogan to help him stand out in the crowded Los Angeles real estate scene. He most certainly succeeded, though perhaps not in the way he intended. He recalled the famous line from THE SHINING, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” He tweaked this to read “ALL work and NO play makes JACK a great realtor.” (Caps to emphasize where he used bold and italic letters, because one or the other wouldn’t be enough apparently).

The original context of this classic quote clearly didn’t bother him. But, he’s targeting the film capital of the world. So, a basic knowledge of film context is in order. And I’m being generous here. I personally believe that particular quote is so famous and engrained in popular culture that one doesn’t need to work in film to understand its implications.

These are the thoughts that immediately sprang to mind when I read his slogan:

1). I automatically filled in the ending. I assumed it was going to say “a dull boy.” I have now immediately thought of this realtor as a dull boy. Of all the possible interpretations, this one is the best. It just gets worse from here.

2). By his placement of bold and italicized words, Jack is telling us that he is a workaholic, bragging about having no play in his life. This is not the kind of person I want to work with.

3). Even after sacrificing all his time and energy to work, Jack is not the most outstanding realtor of all time. He’s not the best in Los Angeles, nor the most compassionate, the most dedicated or the most trustworthy. No, he’s merely “great,” an adjective you would use to describe a sandwich.

4). Perhaps, most damning of all, I am forced to imagine that this realtor grinning at me is slowly going insane and is about to attempt to murder his family. I hear echoes of Shelley Duvall’s piercing screams.

These four thoughts flashed into my brain within a matter of seconds. By the time I pulled the car to the curb, I was already laughing out loud. Nothing about this makes me want to do business with Jack. He might be a great realtor, but I would never risk working with him to find out.

I assume that anyone who is a doofus with their public image, will make bad decisions in a business relationship. I believe that filmmakers make this same assumption as well.

The lesson here? Don’t be like Jack. Branding and messaging are important, but should come from a place of honesty. Be good at what you do, and let people see your genuine enthusiasm for it. If you to try to forcefully forge a brand or a gimmick (which I don’t recommend), make sure you stay on your message, target your audience and, when in doubt, consult with experts who can prevent you from looking like a goofball.