Friday, January 2, 2015

The Imitation Game's brilliant ad campaign

By Lars Trodson

Here you have a movie, "The Imitation Game," that takes place in Britain about 70 years ago that tells the story of a gay man trying to crack a Nazi code. That man is Alan Turing, who may be a legend but is no household name, no Robert Oppenheimer, no George S. Patton. The "code" is the infamous Enigma Code, and deciphering it is a key element in Allied victory. "The Imitation Game" stars a respected young actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, who is gaining wide-spread fame but has not proved yet to be a draw at the box office.

So how would a studio, in this case The Weinstein Company, market this film to that all-important younger ticket-buying demographic when the subject matter is so challenging?

By telling that demographic this: Without Alan Turing, there would be no smartphones, no computers, no artificial intelligence — no anything that today's geeks revere and desire.

The format for this message is a campaign that avoids the usual praise of the film by movie critics. What the ad does is praise the man, Alan Turing, and his accomplishments by using quotes from executives of some of the most powerful and successful new media corporations on the planet:

"Every time you use a phone, or a computer, you use ideas that Alan Turing invented," says Google Executive Chairman Eric E. Schmidt in a quote from the ad.

"From artificial intelligence to theoretical biology, the cope of Turing's genius is almost impossible to fathom even 60 years after his tragic death," says Dick Costolo, CEO and Director of Twitter, Inc.

"Alan Turing's work is the foundation of every intelligent machine we have today. He was a true genius," said Max Levchiin, co-founder of PayPal.

Marissa Mayer, CEO, President and Director of Yahoo! blurbed this: "His discoveries... continue to inspire generations of engineers and inventors."

That should sell some tickets.

Bravo to The Weinstein Company and whomever devised this campaign. An absolutely brilliant strategy.