Have you ever thought about the staying power of your brand? Is it worth the effort? At one time, it was supremely important for the Quaker Oats company, as they sought to create a powerful, interesting, and lasting effect for their special new product.
“Hold your breath…Make a wish” Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory came about by bewildering circumstances. In 1970, film director Mel Stuart’s daughter, Madeline, had just finished reading a new book. She proposed he make a movie around the sweet, visionary world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by author Roald Dahl.
After reading the story and sharing it with his production partners, Stuart approached the Quaker Oats company with the idea of creating a movie for promoting their soon-to-be-released candy bar. Quaker loved the idea and immediately recognized the potential of creating not only buzz, but also a lasting brand for the new chocolate treat.
“Count to three” Even for a small production shop, the $3 million dollar budget for the movie was a low number to work with. They counted every nickel and stretched every dime. Corners were cut, and desperate measures were taken to frugally manage everything, from on-the-fly script writing to production and casting hurdles. Luckily for Stuart, he had amazing talent and a committed team willing to work together.
Everyone who became involved with the story was immediately dedicated to the film’s vision (not just for love of creative work, but also for their belief in the power of the story – the truth that children want and need to know their limits). And of course, it was every child’s most secret desire come true – a land of candy and the opportunity to explore.
“Pure imagination” Having the foresight to take a commoditized product and create a brand around it with a movie was pure genius. Making a movie isn’t like making a 30-second commercial. A movie might last forever, and this was exactly Quaker’s hope. Sadly, in a strange turn of events, problems with the candy bar’s formula caused the chocolate to melt on the grocery store shelves, and the candy was recalled.
With no product on the shelves and the movie newly released, it was actually the movie that grew famous, while the candy bar faded away. (Bonus lesson: The importance of quality control can’t be underestimated!) Had the candy survived, who knows what the scale of their business would be today. The Wonka brand has resurfaced in recent years, largely the result of trading on the movie’s fame.
“Want to change the world?” So, how important is it to create something more than just the shelf product? I think you can find the answer each time you see the movie pop up while flipping channels and stop to catch a few minutes of this favorite childhood flick (or maybe you end up watching the whole thing!).
The moral of the story: If you want something to last, you need to commit to making it happen. You need to invest talent, take risks, and work tirelessly like Oompa-Loopmas.
Image used from Flickr by Marcus Quigmire http://www.flickr.com/people/marcusq/