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Why The Film Inception, Is The Best Marketing Lesson Of All Time

By Mike Midgley Posted 11 September, 2019 In GrowthEngine Community - article - Why The Film Inception Is The Best Marketing Lesson Of All Time

Often films inspire us in our social lives, but what about in business? The film Inception (credit Warner Brothers for images and titles) asks us to think about planting the seed, the seed of an idea. 



Why the Film Inception, Is The Best Marketing Lesson Of All Time

The best example I could ever give you of this is the Hollywood film Inception, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy. I think Michael Caine has a brief cameo appearance in it as well. 

And the overall rundown of the Hollywood film is that there's corporate sort of ... well, I wouldn't say it's espionage, but there are certainly corporate shenanigans going off in there. 

And they need to approach a specific individual and put an idea in their head.

And they have this science fiction or far fetched sort of plan that you see in Hollywood films, where they plant the idea and take people down into their subconscious mind. 

And I always say that if you want to learn marketing, you're a total novice to marketing, yeah, of course, you can go and do a degree, good luck with that, and do all the theoretical stuff that's out of date the first time you finish your first semester. 

And I know that's slightly controversial, for all those who've got a marketing degree, I'm sure you'll disagree. 

But I think it moves far too fast, and ultimately the uni sort of degrees, they're outdated and weak in many, many areas. 

A lot of big companies might need the marketing degree just to tick the checkbox, but I think the real digital out there are the ones at the coal face doing the work, learning every day.

So, that's a sidebar, slightly off-topic there. 

The Power Of The Subconscious Mind

Ultimately if you want to learn marketing, go and watch the film Inception, and ultimately how they take that person down into the subconscious mind. 

And then what they do is they plant the seed. 

And then in the inception team, which is led by Leonardo DiCaprio. 

As I say, there's Tom Hardy in there, there's a couple of other well-known actors, I'm not quite recalling their names.

And then they all play a specific role.

  • One will get close to them

  • One will be the confidant

  • One will sort of sit back

  • One will pull them out, snap them out when they're ready

  • One will put them back under 

  • One will take them down a second-tier

  • One's playing a strategic role

  • One's playing a tactical role

All to make sure that this idea is planted into this individual's head so then they'd go on, adopt that idea as their own, and then go and execute on them. 

And when they execute on it, it's to the inception team's desired brief and favourable outcome.

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Marketing Inception Relevancy to Content Stages

And if you think about that, you might be sat there saying, 

"Mike, how on earth is that like marketing?" 

Well, if you're a business and you want to bring your product, service, solution, offer to marketplace, yeah, you can actively promote that at the surface level, but then that's people seeing it as advertising. 

When you drop that down into the subconscious, where people genuinely believe that they need your product, yours is the best way, and you're the one helping them out, the reference to the inception team is then the stages of content. 

So, the person putting them under, is that top of funnel awareness? The people who are getting close to them, is that the engagement, the trust levels? 

We all know people who are good at building relationships. 

So, people buy from them because they know, like and trust them. 

It's a classic cliché, know, like, trust. 

The tactical ones who are snapping in and out, they're dealing with not drastic measures, but if the plan's going slightly wrong, then they need to maybe put an offer in there or an "Ethical bribe," as we call it, to bring them back on track, or keep the engagement. 

And then the strategic planner's in there, who are planning every move and taking them down two, three, or four levels of subconscious, that's keeping that strategy there.

As I say, just something on my mind. 

I saw Inception was previewing on Sky when I was flipping through the channels. I didn't watch the film, in fact, I've not watched it for, I don't know, three or four years, something like that. 

  • Inception_IMAX_ONE-SHEET-1050x1556

But I always see in Inception, and I always think the best way to understand marketing is to understand that film script. 

Go Watch Inception Today And Improve Your Marketing Education

So, go check it out, it's freely available on Sky and I think it's on Netflix and things like that. So, you don't have to go pay for it or anything (assumes you have those subscriptions of course). 

But great marketing lesson.

And ultimately, what I would love you to leave me a comment about is, is there any marketing lessons that you've learnt, whether that's from a Hollywood film, it's a song, it's a situation that is not traditional, mainstream marketing? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and how that inspired you, and how it helped you move forward, whether that's your idea, whether you feel similar about Inception, you think it's a similar type of impact. 

Leave us a comment below, happy to engage on that comment with you. 

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'An Idea Is Like A Virus. Resilient. Highly Contagious. And Even The Smallest Seed Of An Idea Can Grow. It Can Grow To Define Or Destroy You.' - Cobb [Leonardo DiCaprio]

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About The Author
GEC - Article - Why The Film Inception, Is The Best Marketing Lesson Of All time - Blog Header community copy (1)
Mike Midgley

Mike Midgley is the Strategy Director at 6teen30 Digital and a dynamic digital entrepreneur, nxd, strategist, public speaker and host of TheOpenMike Podcast show & Co-Host at The Inbound Podcast. Mike has achieved successful six and seven-figure exits over a 25-year career, raised in excess of £1.6m [$2.5m] in Venture Capital and franchised his businesses 68 times.