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The Lion King - A Legacy Brand
To become one of the most iconic film franchises of our time doesn’t just happen by chance. Disney’s, The Lion King, isn’t just a catchy movie that somehow markets itself - it’s a mix of cultural references that speak directly to a wide variety of audiences. How does it do that? What makes this movie a cultural phenomenon whose remake has been so highly anticipated the world over?
Let’s take a look.
The circle of life
At the core of every culture on earth is the search for meaning and the understanding of life cycles. People are born, they grow, come of age and become adults, and, eventually, elders. The Lion King is rooted in this message - using, among other devices, a baptismal ritual in the beginning to cement the idea of an unending cycle of life, in which all people (or animals in this instance) have their rightful and equally important place.
If you think about it, the power of any successful story is the ability to draw in an audience by giving them a lens through which they can see themselves. Any narrative that gives its audience a mirror of even a single corner of its own identity, is likely to grip their attention.
Can you feel the love tonight?
It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves a good love story - the more tragic twists and turns before the epic reconciliation happens, the better. Simba and Nala’s love story is as special as any other - not only is Nala instrumental in Simba realising his own potential, but their connection becomes the very thing that forces him to confront his past.
There’s something about love and how it can be woven into any story that makes it resonate with people universally. Although words don’t fully define the mystery of human connection, nothing beats seeing it in living colour.
When dealing with themes as monumental as identity, interconnectedness and tragedy, you definitely need to throw in a bit of comedic relief, and that’s exactly what Timon and Pumba provide in this musical. The idea is that amidst the seriousness and heaviness of becoming, there’s the opportunity to laugh and live and be absolutely care-free.
These characters bring the film’s feel-good element to life, ultimately making it a hit with audiences of all ages.
Bringing it home
While all of this is great and you can probably see why the Lion King has such a loyal following and why the remake has been celebrated so widely; how is this relevant to marketing? Well, the idea of telling stories isn’t a new one in advertising, in fact, television, radio and social media timelines are flooded with various short narratives.
But what’s the difference between a Lion King level story - which basically markets itself - and one that really gets no reaction from audiences? How can we create legacy brands that resonate with audiences long after they’ve seen the video clips on social media?
Although we can’t produce a full-scale musical, we can look at the real truths, questions and carefree moments that paint the stories of real individuals’ lives and find the spaces in which our brands could form a part of those narratives. We’ve seen the hard-sell approach fail repeatedly and heard audiences reject inaccurate depictions of their realities.
So maybe it’s time to take the Lion King approach and prove that our brands are worthy of entering customers’ homes and becoming a part of their story, by showing them how their love stories, identities, coming of age, community and moments of laughter, matter to brands as much as they do to them.
The Lion King has definitely become a part of our collective culture and, judging by the excitement around its remake, it’s a story we’d like to keep alive.
Similarly, brands can also become engraved in the hearts and families of their customers by (obviously) having a good product and creating marketing campaigns that speak to any facet of the three pillars that form our cultural experiences - identity, love and humour.
About the author
Sizakele Nene is an avid reader of mystery novels and African literature. When she hasn’t got her nose stuck in a book, she’s trying to save the world one paper straw at a time, or fulfilling her role as a Copywriter and Community Manager at Arc Interactive.
For more information, visit www.arcinteractive.co.
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