Ingrid Bergman flashes a smile at Jimmy Cagney, who sips a beer at the bar. Humphrey Bogart decides to light up a cigar and all eyes turn as Lauren Bacall saunters in. Mickey Rooney keeps the beat on the drums and Clark Gable leans out the window for a breath of fresh air.
For a classic film buff, it’s like walking into the coolest club in the world.
And that’s exactly what the team at Viewpoint Creative was going for in their “Let’s Meet” mashup, just one of many network IDs in a new marketing campaign for Turner Classic Movies around the tagline “Let’s Movie.”
“Part of it is creating another world where all these characters exist,” said Ted Roberts, creative director of design at Viewpoint Creative. “These stars are all living together, and it’s sort of exciting.”
Viewpoint Creative worked with TCM to develop three network IDs, or mashups, that run about 30 seconds long, and eight shorter segments, or memes, that run about 10 seconds long.
The “Let’s Movie” refresh interweaves vignettes from classic films into the YouTube-inspired memes and mashups for a fresh, contemporary take on vintage Hollywood glamour. By replacing “movie” with a verb that serves as a call to action, viewers are encouraged to join in on the classic movie experience.
“You think of movie watching as passive, and this really makes it active,” Roberts said .
For instance, the campaign uses quick cuts of stars talking on the phone for “Let’s Communicate,” and shows actors and actresses strutting their stuff on the dance floor, and in the rain, for “Let’s Boogie.”
“It’s creating a sense of place at Turner Classic Movies, and you’re invited to be a part of this community,” said Jon Busch, creative director at Viewpoint Creative. The network plans to ripple the new tagline throughout its content to promote everything from broadcasting themed movie nights, to classic movie film festivals, to TCM cruises.
The format works across television and has taken off on social media platforms, said Pola Changnon, vice president and brand creative director at TCM.
The marketing strategy is designed to speak to viewers who grew up watching and loving the classics, while a modern twist embraces pop culture with a ‘let’s go grab a drink’ attitude that aims to draw in younger viewers who may be interested in exploring the time-honored genre.
“Let’s make sure we’re extending the drawbridge,” Changnon said.
Creative Development: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Throughout the development of the project, it became clear that the relationship between TCM and Viewpoint Creative was, as Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon would say, “the stuff that dreams are made of.”
TCM approached Viewpoint Creative around August to develop a visual expression around the “Let’s Movie” tagline that the network could integrate throughout its branding strategy. This is the first time TCM has adopted a tagline and, as Busch put it, “the line has legs.”
“The brief they gave us was excellent,” Busch said. “There were not a lot of unknowns.”
Viewpoint Creative presented TCM with a few different options, including some “safer” strategies, and TCM chose the one for which Roberts and Busch were hoping.
“It’s nice when a client is right on the same page as the agency,” Busch said.
Changnon said it was a natural fit, and TCM wasted no time in getting the ball rolling.
“It was so clear cut to us that we moved immediately,” she said.
The network also was looking to have a little fun with the campaign.
“We have been pristine in the brand for so long, we can take some chances.” Changnon said. “Our audience—they’re not a bunch of stiffs.”
For Fans, Inspired By Fans
The “Let’s Movie” tagline and marketing strategy originated from David Seeley of the creative services agency 99 Tigers, who worked with Changnon on the concept. When developing the visual assets to bring those words to life, Roberts and Busch were inspired by mashup videos that classic movie fans had posted on YouTube.
Part of the intended marketing strategy was to create elements that would lend themselves to interactivity and shares across social media platforms—which happen to be very active for TCM—so the fact that their audience was already sharing similar content was great, Changnon said.
“We love that fans are committed to this concept,” she said.
The shorter memes, which Changnon describes as “fun little moments” that offer “a nice little wink to our audience,” have generated the most social traction for TCM so far, with hundreds of likes and shares across Facebook and Twitter. It’s an indication that the strategy is resonating well with the intended audience.
“It’s one of the most satisfying things to watch,” Roberts said. “It’s instantaneous feedback.”
The Search For The Perfect Scenes
When it came down to choosing content, Roberts and Busch were not short on options. Weeding through all the scenes to piece together clips that worked was a time-consuming puzzle, but one that they both enjoyed.
First, TCM identified the available scenes within their licensed titles. The network was fortunate to have a intern, described as “a magical film librarian working on overdrive,” who was “able to spit out specifics because she was so familiar with the material.”
In terms of figuring out the individual scenes for the memes and mashups, Roberts and Busch had some favorite movies, such as Dr. Strangelove and The Philadelphia Story, from which they immediately knew they wanted to pull. They also spent long hours screening film after film in search of the perfect clip for a certain setup, and brainstormed ideas that would match particular moments that they came across.
“The characters need to deliver lines in a very specific way,” Roberts said.
The first meme they created features one the most famous scenes from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It opens with a line of text that reads, “If You Couldn’t Watch Movies,” then cuts to Elizabeth Taylor in her bedroom saying to Paul Newman, “Why, I’d find me the longest, sharpest knife I could and I’d stick it straight into my heart. I’d do that.” The meme ends with the tagline, “Let’s Not Do That … Let’s Movie.”
In the film, Maggie (Taylor) is describing her obsessed, passionate feelings for a husband who refuses to touch her. Taken out of context, it totally works for “Let’s Movie.”
“It’s kind of a funny way to repurpose a dramatic scene like that to be fun and active,” Busch said.
He and Roberts developed a set of high-level guidelines to determine how the memes, the network ID mashups, and the overall concept of “Let’s Movie” would work across different platforms and mediums. They wanted TCM to be able to take it, run with it, and make it their own.
“We wanted to create something that was very flexible, that they could do themselves,” Roberts said.
Indeed, “this idea of ‘Let’s Movie’ has become an ongoing drumbeat,” Changnon said.
It’s a rhythm that TCM hopes a younger audience will tune their ear to, especially as the classics continue to influence many modern movies and television shows.
From Twin Peaks to The Wire, the prestige of classic films leave their mark, Busch said. They are about great acting and great stories that transcend time.
“It’s a very big shadow,” Changnon said, “that these movies cast across pop culture today.”