I have to admit I was more curious than excited about the idea of taking my daughter to see the Michael Jackson movie “This Is It” yesterday but, on a number of levels, I’m so glad I did.

As a musician I was blown away by the quality of the talent that he had gathered around him for this project, as a project manager I was fascinated to see how a project so complex was manged, as someone who has heard Jackson’s music for what seems like most of my life it was fascinating to gain a glimpse of what can only be described as the genius of the man and as a human being maybe I also came  little closer to understanding the phenomenon that was Michael Jackson.  Job done I guess as far as the film makers are concerned.

If one thing stands out in this movie for me, it’s the absolute minute attention this guy gave to every detail, which underlines one of my long-held beliefs, that one man’s attention to detail is another man’s half-arsed attempt.  This is extreme!  I also realised that however hard I might try, I will never appreciate how Jackson’s mind worked.  For example, he appeared to carry around a recording of digital accuracy of everything he had ever done in his mind and more impressive still, he clearly possessed a clarity of hearing and interpretation that in my experience, even with musicians, was unique.  This was highlighted in a conversation he had with his musical director Michael Bearden (himself no small deal) when they were sketching out the intro for one of the numbers in the show.  “How do you want this to sound?” he asked.  “I want it to sound just like the record” replied Jackson matter-of-factly.  “But MJ, we don’t hear it like you do, tell me how we should play it”.  This also hinted at some of the frustrations mere mortals should expect when working with genius, as well as explaining the utter respect the musicians, technicians and managers around him clearly held for the guy.

If this event had made it to the stage it would have been the greatest stage show ever staged in the name of music, there can be no doubt of that.  In raising this movie from the ashes, the producers have performed a “save” of monumental significance and possibly even given us something of value that we wouldn’t have had if things had gone to plan.

There’s no doubt in my mind that freak, weirdo, genius, messiah or just plain nutter, we are unlikely ever to see another musician/performer like Michael Jackson and that’s what a truly great brand is all about.  Love ’em or hate ’em, great brands stand out and that’s the point.  Its their differences that forge the impenetrable bonds with sections of society that are valuable beyond the appreciation of many businesses.  Worldwide Jackson’s followers are as devoted as human emotions will allow – in my Full Effect Marketing terminology a real “brandship” – and this movie can only strengthen this bond and extend the Jackson brand community still further.

Michael Weaver
November 16, 2009

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