Gregory Birge
Aug 5, 2010

How Inception defines the rules of marketing

Gregory Birge, founder and managing director at F5 Digital Consulting, looks at how the blockbuster Inception really represents the new marketing challenges.

How Inception defines the rules of marketing

Inception, Christopher Nolan's most recent movie, is not only a commercial success (generating US$21 million during its opening day, according to Wikipedia) but also well acclaimed among critics with an 87 per cent score from Rotten Tomatoes

In addition to being a great movie, it is also a good analogy to explain the new rules of consumer engagement and marketing through the following five concepts:

  1. Non-linear world
  2. Own world
  3. Multiple dimensions
  4. Back to reality
  5. The right path

Non linear world

The movie is based on a non-linear world. You navigate through dreams to reach your objectives and those dreams can take multiple representations. This closely resembles the relationship between brands and consumers as the explosion of new channels make it more complex for marketers to decide on the right mix of channels for every marketing activity.

Own world

As the movie is based on dreams, they need architects to recreate universes. Each architect is creating a representation of his own universe, based on his needs and wishes. Similarly, today's consumers are creating their own universe through social media for example. Based on what brands are telling them, they modify, re-create, comment and in so doing generate their own world, leaving the brands on the sideline as spectators.

Multiple dimensions

One of the interesting elements of the movie is the team's ability to navigate through multiple dream layers and find ways to suggest 'inceptions' or ideas that seem to have been self-generated in the consumer's mind.

In a world of media explosion with multiple channels and tighter budgets, not only do you need to navigate your way through those layers but, more importantly, you can no longer force a message onto your consumer. Like in the movie, the consumer will sense the trick and reject your thoughts.

Brands need to find a way to merely suggest products while steering the consumer in the right direction.

Back to reality

When you navigate through dreams and layers, you might lose the ability to distinguish between reality and a dream. Marketers stand to face the same challenge where they need to go back to the marketing basics instead of being blinded by technology like Facebook, hoping it holds the answers to all marketing needs. The basics serve as the 'marketing totem', reminding you of the reality of the brand.

The right path

Multiple layers or non-linearity make it difficult to find a way out and reach your consumers.

Based on countries and consumer needs, going 100 per cent digital is not the solution. How do you select your marketing mix, the best channels to reach your consumer, and get out of the maze?

Definitively, a true one-to-one multichannel marketing communication is the right approach.

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