Strange Magic (the Movie)—and Marketing

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.


We saw the movie Strange Magic this weekend.

And in addition to enjoying the movie very much… it got me thinking about marketing.

If you want to learn more about marketing, it helps to see and consider the marketing around you.

Not everything translates directly into book marketing, though. For example, paid advertising tends to be much more effective for paper towels than for books; and no wonder, there aren’t millions of paper towel rolls to choose from.

However, many of the main concepts do translate:

  • easily reading the brand on the label
  • visually appealing to the target audience
  • effective use of color in the packaging
  • text on the product label that not only informs, but sells
  • creating brand name recognition through just the right amount of repetition

Strange Magic, the movie, begins with a bright, colorful scene with a fairy flying. This was visually appealing for the target audience. With books, you want to show your target audience right off the bat (who may be reading the Look Inside as prospective shoppers) that this is very much what they were looking for. You want the beginning to put them in a good mood. Make the audience relax and enjoy the book, rather than thinking critically. Compel the audience to keep reading.

Sitting in the theater, we’d already bought our tickets, so it’s not quite the same thing as the Look Inside of a book, where customers may still be deciding. But if you ever produce a movie, you don’t want people walking out of the theater, and you want everyone to enjoy the movie enough to recommend it, so it’s still important to start out on a positive note. This movie had a great visual beginning.

Another thing you need when you write a book is to have elements of your book that really stand out. Something noteworthy (in a good way!) that may elicit recommendations. Strange Magic has an amazing soundtrack. I don’t normally notice the music much in the theater. This movie had many great tracks; good variety, too. Most played for a short duration, but the movie was packed with great music. That’s a cool feature, where if the audience likes it (a big IF whether producing a movie or writing a book), they might tell other people they know. “Hey, you gotta check this out.” Authors strive to put compelling features in their books. If it’s compelling enough to share with friends, it might lead to valuable recommendations.

Rather than, “That was a great book,” you’re hoping for, “Check this book out because…” An amazing feature can make a difference. The strengths of a book may sell it, but only if the weaknesses don’t prevent the readers from recommending it. Shore up the weaknesses and make the strengths wow. In long-term marketing, content is king.

The movie also has a unique style, artistically. The hairstyles are distinct, and they work. You have to create a distinctive brand, like Sherlock Holmes; something that distinguishes your brand from others. When you write a book, something must define your distinct style (in a good way!). It may be subtle. (If it’s drastic, you take a huge risk.)

The storyline sends a positive message, too. You can see the message as a byline right on the poster: “Everyone Deserves To Be Loved.” Strange Magic is a kids’ movie, but it must also appeal to parents, as they’re the ones who will buy the tickets. And parents (or grandparents) are likely to watch the movie with them. Similarly, books need great storylines, and children’s books need to not only appeal to children, but to parents, too. I enjoyed the storyline very much. So did my daughter.

I also like the title font on the movie poster. The words STRANGE MAGIC are written in a large font, it’s easy to read, the color works well and makes it really stand out, and the style fits the genre. The title font is very important on the packaging. With books, the font on the cover’s thumbnail may be even more important.

The movie poster’s visual image is pretty busy, and doesn’t reflect the bright, colorful imagery shown in the beginning. But maybe it would have been a mistake to base the poster design on the imagery from the movie’s beginning. That may have looked more girlish, whereas the movie isn’t intended just for girls. Similarly, with books, a cover should be striking, but even if it’s quite striking, it will fail if it doesn’t attract the precise target audience. The latter is more important than the former.

If you haven’t seen Strange Magic yet, I recommend it. My daughter does, too.

Copyright © 2015 Chris McMullen

2 comments on “Strange Magic (the Movie)—and Marketing

  1. A very interesting analysis. I’ve never thought to the content of the book in marketing terms. Usually I think to it in terms of ‘does the plot works?’ or ‘Does the hook really hook the reader?’ I mean, it’s more in terms of making the story work than of building a brand for myself as the author.

    But I see what you’re saying and it’s very interesting. It’s a way to turn the style of the author into marketing. Is this what you’re saying?

    • I think the content is one key to long-term success. As you say, the beginning must hook the reader. Something should stand out enough to elicit recommendations, i.e. more than just enjoying the story, to really impact long-term marketing. And, yes, some aspect of the story can become your brand.

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