Can You Cash In While Being Corny?
Cashing In By Being Consistent And Bringing The Corn
"Bring The Corn, Sam"
Is there an important marketing lesson in an old, black & white movie? It's a 70-year-old film that has been called "schlocky" and "mediocre."
How can this film even matter?
After all, one of the movie's screenwriters called it, "A great deal of corn, more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined."
Remember, this man talking about his own writing.
And what is corn, anyway? Ask Oxford, and here's what you get: "Trite, banal, or mawkishly sentimental."
Ick. That Sounds Not Good
But if you've ever watched this film, you know: the trite, banal and mawkish sentimentality works like a charm.
This film is the Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman classic, Casablanca. It's one of the most popular movies of all time.
Over 70 years later, it remains one of the single most rented movies ever.
This despite being (yes) corny.
Even the same people who describe it using words like "schlocky" and "mediocre" also say things like "phenomenon worthy of awe" and "Homeric."
(Didn't study your classics? Homer is the Greek poet who gave us epics The Iliad and The Odyssey. He's considered a genius for all time.)
Damn The Corn! Full Speed Ahead!
The reason Casablanca has been working for the better part of a century is simple: big themes and authenticity.
Yes, the movie is full of stereotypes. But the stereotypes are positive and flattering.
The movies is rife with emotional struggle. Raw human emotions are at the center of everything.
And the key theme of the film is this: Sacrifice. Almost nobody in the movie is without selfishness and greed. But when push comes to shove, everyone you care about sacrifices something.
As the great Italian thinker and author Umberto Eco says of Casablanca, "The myth of sacrifice runs through the whole film."
Myths Are The Stories We Tell About Our Better Selves
And Casablanca works because it is founded on a myth of things that are good, right and true.
Despite bouts of bad acting, erratic storytelling, and ongoing corn, Casablanca is a 102-minute commercial for the myth of sacrifice above personal gain.
It's a story about intrigue, betrayal, love, sex, hope--and our better selves.
Corn sells in Casablanca, and it can sell in your advertising.
Corny jokes, corny sentiment, even corny brands will work--IF they are honest and based on thoughtful, authentic brands.
Corn is dad jokes.
The comedy may not be skillful or even very funny. But it's delivered with heart. It comes with a knowing wink and a nod by a guy who's a good, authentic human.
We've had long-running ad campaigns based on corn. Those corny campaigns have made the advertisers into celebrities. Authentic corn has made them top-of-mind.
It has helped them make wheelbarrows full of money.
So much advertising at the small-business level is corny.
The corn that works does so because it's built on a solid foundation of authentic brand.
It works also because it's consistent.
It works because it brings the love that underpins the Dad joke.
Loving your work. Loving your customer. Loving the pursuit of a better reality.
Those things are not dictated by fashion or style. They are predicated on the best of us.
And the best of us is a quality that is timeless.
LIGHTNING BRANDING ON AMAZON
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.