Wonka Taught My 4-yo Everything About Marketing

So, maybe there’s no truth in my daughter learning anything about marketing while watching the 1971 Gene Wilder version of WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but there was certainly compelling content that could lead to a dissertation for anyone who cares to share on their way to a marketing degree. Though one of my favorite movies, I had not seen it in years.  It seemed like the perfect time to share with my daughter – since she had just completed being read the story in her pre-school. The magical moments remain, but what struck me most are the marketing concepts and case studies (good and bad) that play out in the film.

wonka

Here’s just a couple of concepts or case studies from the film:

Kick-off a season or product by giving away product to those who are most likely to come back and buy your product.

The movie start out with kids leaving school – presumably for the summer break – and running to the candy store. It’s clear that not everyone is allowed inside as we see Charlie Bucket on the outside looking in.  What he sees through the glass is the candy man effectively throwing candy at the kids and even welcoming them behind the counter to take what they want.

When we return to the store later, its much quieter and the same candy man requires payment for whatever is bought. That store cleaning at the beginning of the film must have been great for loyalty – and clearing out old inventory to make way for the Wonka Bar craze that was soon to be a boon to the candy business…

Create a promotion with such an insane reward that demand for product skyrockets globally driving sales far beyond consumption capabilities.

The placement of 5 golden tickets leading to a lifetime supply of candy made everyone go insane and those who could, bought more chocolate bars than anyone could eat. Add to that demand by inflating the re-sellers’ market (a box’s auction started at 5000 GBP) and you’ve not only increased sales, but you’ve increased the value of the brand exponentially.

We won’t harbor on the fact that it seemed, in the end, that Wonka seemingly had no intention of honoring the candy for life for all five winners.

Truly create an compelling experience and people will do everything they can to be a part of it.

After 20 years of Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephina, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina being bed-ridden, Grandpa Joe miraculously gets out of bed and, within minutes, is dancing in preparation for visiting the Wonka factory.

Throw off your competition by sharing news about the development of a product that is so secretive that everyone wants a piece of it – even if it has no long-term value.

Reports were coming out about the Everlasting Gobstopper as soon as the contest launched (if not sooner) and everyone wanted to know what they were. In this case, the evil competitor reached out to all five winners to entreat them to bring back a sample of the super-secret product.

On a side note about gaming rules and ethics, one has to question how he was able to be in the proximity of every single winner just moments after they won.  In fact, after finding that he was a Wonka employee, one can question the validity of the random-ness of winning…

Had anyone stopped to think about the commercial viability in the Everlasting Gobstopper, they would have realized that there was no future.  It would have done great sales at first, but you would not have been able to sell more than one to a person (or a family with proper cleaning and hygiene) because you could never finish sucking on them – they’re everlasting!

Create a theme park factory to draw crowds.  Even if you don’t allow visitors, the pent-up excitement will find its way into your sales.

It sadly drew parallels to Michael Jackson’s Neverland – where too few people got to experience it and be transported.

Did you see the amazement on the kids’ faces when they see the candy garden, the chocolate river, its boat or the sudsy car contraption that only traveled 20 yards?  That stuff was priceless and was created, ostensibly, to never be seen by anyone other than Wonka and his Oompa Loompas… But, those tales that would be told by the kids after they saw it and the demand it would have created would have only led further to propping up the brand’s image.

Epilogue

Much like this was all fantasy created in the mind of Roald Dahl or the filmmakers, there is always a bit of truth at its core.  We can pick out what we like and discard the rest.  We can gloss over the fact that the contract that Wonka had the minors sign without their parents’ signatures would not hold up if challenged.

The Quaker Oats company actually paid for the production as a launch point for their new candy bars that they were planning to go to market with. The sad thing is that the products got into market at the time of the theatrical release, but they all had to be recalled because they melted.

What is prevalent as the film relates to marketing is that a sense of wonder goes a long way toward its effectiveness. What happens in the long run is up to how strong the product actually is. A great story can launch a product, but a great product can launch a story and reach even greater heights.

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