Icarus is on release this week from Netflix. According to the ad in the Metro, it’s “Astonishing, important, jaw-dropping”.
I’m not subscribing.
Basically I’m not falling for this one again: I’m not the only one to react negatively to hyperbole. Not even my top ten films deserve the “astonishing-important-jaw-dropping” accolade. Consider the case for The Deerhunter, The Godfather Parts 1 and 2, Taxi Driver, Midnight Express, Citizen Kane, Pulp Fiction, Manhattan, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I, Daniel Blake, The Hurt Locker. OK it’s a personal list, but you get the drift. This new overly-hyped film has not earned the right. Or at least not yet. And because there is an inevitability about the disconnect between the claim and my prior experience of films given similar OTT treatment, I’ve lost immediate trust in the film’s promoters. And Netflix. As I said, I’m not going.
The promoter’s tactic is kind of understandable. But it doesn’t work. As Seth Godin sets out in Purple Cow, you have to stand out to be noticed. A field of purple cows is a remarkable event. Astonishing perhaps? However, multiple, consecutive fields of purple cows very quickly ceases to be head-turning as purple becomes the new normal for cows.
Icarus has fallen into the same trap. “Astonishing, jaw-dropping” has become the film promoters’ new normal, achieving the opposite effect to that intended. Possible buyer turns hostile. And this contagion is not just limited to the film industry. It’s in telecoms too, witness another lazy BT ad in the same newspaper for an “Astonishing, jaw-dropping” price cut on its latest broadband offer. You couldn’t make it up.
In an age where authenticity, truth, ‘tell it as it is’ has become the consumers’ preferred mode, another approach is perhaps more productive. As it happens, Icarus could have dipped into a well of authoritative third-party endorsement, of which there is an abundance. “A must-see exposé about systematic corruption”. “Maybe the best non-fiction film of the year”. “It’s hard to deny the power of Icarus’ message”. “A level-headed and illuminating documentary”.
OK, now I’m listening. I’m open, not closed.
Others, mostly professional critics, unconnected to the film’s commercial success have endorsed Icarus. The fact they didn’t need to, makes it all the more persuasive. The critics’ driver is to demonstrate good judgement and be in tune with readers. What’s out there appears balanced: not all the reviews are positive but that’s fine and I’m not sure I trust those channels either. One of the positive reviews comes from the FT, a newspaper respected for its quality journalism, independence and insight. Even better, no shouting, no insulting my intelligence and nobody is conning me. Now I feel in control and equipped to make an informed judgement.
If you are in the persuasion game, and let’s face it most of us are, there are two important messages here; put more effort into finding third parties to endorse your products and services; and dial down the hype. If you want to pitch to investors and be successful, it’s a must do.
This week I’m heeding my own advice – “makes a change” comments Mrs C – and enjoying a ‘very’ detox by deleting ‘very’ from all communication. And I’m off to find a few clients and industry gurus to beef up my LI profile. It’s about time the world heard from others about our jaw-dropping, astonishing and important funding preparation service.
And I might just explore what’s on offer from Netflix. Maybe.