Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite movies.
In a world without Office Space, it would be the greatest comedy film of all time. I think there are a lot of people who would agree with me. I mean, this movie came out when I was in junior high school and to this day, I can’t get to an awkward lull in a conversation without going “Big Gulps, huh? All right! Well, see ya later!” and walking away. I’ve lost many wonderful social and professional opportunities this way.
The point of this post is to highlight the importance of human emotion and relationships in your brand video, and show that marketing isn’t much different from narrative storytelling.
Your typical ho-hum brand video
The kind of video I want to use as a template to rewrite the plot of Dumb and Dumber goes something like this:
Voice of Someone: Rockney Finishlings was started in 2002 with the mission of bringing the highest quality flipplecaps possible to customers anywhere in the state of West Calkota.
[footage of product]
Someone talking on camera: The most important thing about a finishling is that it be the highest quality. So when Wayne T. Rockney saw that customers wanted their finishlings to be high quality, he saw an opportunity in the marketplace, and that’s the story of Rockney Finishlings.
[footage of building]
Someone else talking on camera: Our customers keep coming back because we take pride in the quality of our finishlings, which is the highest.
[list of kinds of finishlings on screen]
Voice of same person from beginning (I think): We sell red finishlings, brass finishlings, naked finishlings, really any kind of finishling that’s high quality.
Someone else talking on camera, but from a side angle: We work with all the best finishling suppliers, so when you buy a finishling from Rockney, you know that you’re getting the highest quality finishling you can get.
And it goes on like that for 2-5 excruciating minutes.
Dumb and Dumber as a Bad Brand Video
[Lloyd knocks on the door to a big house. A red-headed woman answers]
Lloyd: I am here to take you to the airport.
Mary: I’ll get my things.
[Lloyd isn’t moved in any particular way]
[Cut to Lloyd driving Mary to the airport in a limousine.]
Lloyd: Shall I transport you to the airport?
Lloyd: That is all the information pertinent to my business. I have no further questions.
Mary: Very well.
[cut to Lloyd arriving home from work]
Lloyd: Say, Harry. Life here in Providence isn’t as lucrative as I think it would be in Aspen, Colorado. Shall we move?
Harry: Yes, let’s.
[footage of Mutt Cutts van driving on highway]
Lloyd: This drive will last approximately 2,200 miles.
Harry: That’s correct. Let’s stop at this diner so that we can consume food to nourish our bodies.
Lloyd: Yes, let’s.
[cut to inside of diner]
Lloyd: Harry, you appear to have upset that large fellow.
Sea Bass: Your salt shaker has collided with my person.
Sea Bass’ Henchman: I suggest you resolve this matter through violence, Sea Bass.
[Sea Bass approaches table and expels mucus onto Harry’s hamburger]
[cut to Harry and Lloyd driving Mutt Cutts van]
Harry: Say, Lloyd. Your decision to trick Sea Bass into paying for our meal has furthered our ends.
Lloyd: That does appear to be an objective analysis of the situation.
[cut to nighttime, Lloyd falling asleep at the wheel and dreaming about Mary Swanson, who is nobody in particular to him, in a western-themed living room]
[Lloyd is awoken by an oncoming truck and narrowly avoids a collision]
Harry: Should I drive the van, now that you are tired?
[cut to daytime, on an isolated road. Harry and Lloyd stand next to the van]
Harry: Say, Lloyd. You have driven a great distance in the wrong direction. Although you have caused our fuel and money supply to deplete to a level inadequate to complete our trip, I fail to summon any feelings toward you, negative, positive, or otherwise.
Lloyd: Because you have no emotional reaction, I have no reason to attempt to totally redeem myself.
Harry: The next logical step is to remain in this spot until we expire.
Where would Lloyd have found the inner drive to trade a van for a minibike and go hellbent for Aspen if he didn’t need to prove his devotion to his best friend? Why would Lloyd want to go to Aspen at all if he were not totally in love with this mysterious woman? Why would Harry and Lloyd want to take a big step – embark on an adventure – if they didn’t feel totally exasperated with their current situation? Why would Sea Bass want to kick Harry’s ass if his ego wasn’t wounded?
My point is that wants and desires are what move stories forward, including business stories.
If you’re making a brand video, try to think about, and talk about the why behind everything.
“To provide excellent customer service” or “to bring the best flipcrickets to the bingb’bong community” isn’t a why. The why is the primal emotion inside you that made you want to solve a problem.
If there isn’t one, you might find your best life doing something else.