I believe Drake’s most profound point comes from his discussion about the “high concept” and the way that marketing and film production have recently become intricately intertwined. He argues that “film marketing began to feed directly into production and aesthetic decision-making” (Drake, 2008, p. 69) which contributes to the “total look” of the product. What he is arguing here is that filmmaking, even in its earliest stages, no longer precedes or is independent of the marketing and publicity strategy, but rather the two are so deeply connected that all films are conceived with marketing in mind. If an idea is good but is difficult to market there may not be much incentive to produce it in the long.
Therefore, it’s about “the hook, the look and the book,” which essentially break down into how can the film be branded, what elements can be utilized to hook audiences and where are the potential ancillary markets and synergies for larger revenues (Drake, 2008, p. 69). Such practices operate to reduce the risky nature of filmmaking and reinforce Drake’s second peculiarity of films as cultural products: “films are product differentiated in more complex ways than other categories of product” (Drake, 2008, p. 64). In comparison, sunscreen is differentiated fairly simply: Neutrogena emphasizes that it does more than protect against sun burns but via integration of “helioplex” technology helps fight skin cancer, aging and damage, whereas Coppertone emphasizes that its new spray can is easy to use and good for active children. Thus sunscreen in differentiated simply by the differences in what the product does for the consumer—films need to do more though.
Films as we said are risky endeavors though, so the complexity of differentiation starts with the hook, the look and the book. Cars, one of the most lucrative films for Disney/Pixar yet arguably the worst of their films, is a perfect example to consider in the ways that marketing helped reduce risk. In terms of publicity, the film had the Pixar name for support and credibility in addition to high profile voicing such as Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy. But, the Cars franchise was perhaps the king of ancillary marketing in terms of merchandise. Mom, please can I have Cars Monopoly????
Differentiation becomes even more complex when we consider the potential for market the experience of the film outside the theatre through attractions at Disneyland, where they are developing “Cars Land.” Disney/Pixar are thus trying to make Cars an experience which transcends just the theatre, reducing the risk by increasing revenue possibilities. Children will demand the toys but also demand to go to the theme parks to literally experience the movie. I can almost certainly say that the film was conceived with these potentialities in mind since they will all serve the financial aspect reciprocally to create hype for the film but also create demand for the spinoff products as well. This is why marketing may be more complicated for films than sunscreen—I don’t think I would go to “Sunscreen Paradise Park though; sounds a bit too slimy.”