It seems that the only time I get to the movies these days is with my daughter, so I’m delighted that she is now of an age where her tastes are more refined than “The Chipmunks” and the traditional Czech fairy stories that, being genuinely bi-lingual she is happy to watch, but I find interesting only from the point of view that they go a long way to explain the strangeness of the Czech psyche.  Today we saw Jonny Depp and Tim Burton’s Alice in 3D Wonderland.

Having said that, there’s nothing stranger than Depp, Burton and the inimitable Helena Bonham-Carter, my love for whom has only been deepened by her portrayal of the Red Queen.  The melding of live action and the most brilliant animation was seamless and absolutely compelling and the entire production is simply awesome.  Its imagination matching that of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) quirk for quirk.

Earlier in the day I had been discussing Michael Jackson’s extreme attention to detail and in my previous post I mention the considerable detail that Sade has obviously gone to in the production of her new album.  Alice however takes attention to detail to a whole new level.  This might be the first movie I have ever felt inclined to watch again, just to pick up the fine detail that I sensed I had missed with the initial viewing.  In these days of instant stardom and accolades for people with no talent other than to be in the right place at the right time, I find it particularly reassuring that there are examples, like this, of real craft, born of hard work, that stands out so vividly from the so-so that many have come to accept as “as good as it gets” – Just as a great brand should.

Its no coincidence that the Alice theme aligns so well to the branding story either.  Be true to yourself, be different and, as Alice’s father says, achieve the impossible by believing it to be possible.  Nothing drives me to despair more than people and organisations who tell me something can’t be done.  Frankly it just makes me determined to prove them wrong.  Any organisation is only as good as its next big idea and marketers should be leading the way by leading their organisations to do things and go places that nobody has done or gone to before – just like Alice’s father, Alice and Lewis Carroll.

Another interesting thing about this production is that it underlines how relationships between brands can really work.  I beat on endlessly about the way that the “company you keep” will influence your brand and here we have a classic story with a considerable brand community combining with the contemporary Burton brand as though they were made for each other.  If either brand had proven not to be up to the challenge of the twenty-first century audience both would have suffered, but this is a perfect match with Burton and Depp bringing Alice bang up-to-date in a way that will surely lead a whole new generation to discover this great story for themselves.

Is this a kids’ story?  Sure, kids will love it, as mine has, but Alice is an affirmation of what life is all about, brought right up to date as a lesson for everyone at every level of life.  You simply have to take your family.

Michael Weaver
March 6, 2010

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