A short attention span is a sign of our times. We wear this badge proudly on the days we zip through tasks, and with discomfort when we find ourselves distracted. Yet somehow, when we got wind of the re-release of The Godfather on the big screens to mark its 50-year anniversary, we found ourselves trekking to the theatre, standing patiently in line to enter the movie hall and sinking into the seat to be transported to another era for a rather lengthy three hours, all to revisit a gloriously evergreen cinematic masterpiece.
Later, after we were reintroduced to the explosive acting talent, dappled shades of morality, the background score that had a sense of its own momentousness, and a pervasive sense of drama, we had to admit the movie still manages to wrest involuntary gasps of wonder, fear and relief from us. It made us think — in these times when the seven-year-itch is better expressed as the seven-month-itch, how does anything or anyone manage to stay so vivid and memorable in spite of the passage of time? But looking around us, we realize that some of us seem to have figured out the secret sauce for long-lasting charm.
Take the utterly butterly awesome Amul Girl for instance, appearing ever so often on newspapers, billboards, and social media feeds with a zesty take on whatever has captured the popular imagination at that moment. More than fifty years on, we doubt anybody in the country is as yet bored by her cheeky but common-sensical approach to life — it goes to show that the key is to remain relevant while staying true to your brand persona.
When we recently watched the movie Yesterday on Netflix, we also realized what an impact the Beatles had on the musical and cultural awakening of an entire generation. Some of the most memorable melodies, the most timeless lyrical narratives and the most experimental music are from the Beatles discography. And if you think of the number of bands, films and songs in popular culture that are directly influenced by The Beatles, you realise that the key to staying in the minds and hearts of people is to become a source of inspiration.
Speaking of evergreen inspiration, how can you miss Shakespeare? You may not enjoy diving into his plays, but if you use everyday terms and phrases like ‘baseless’, ‘lonely’, ‘hostile’, ‘dawn’, ‘watchdog’, ‘cold comfort’, ‘break the ice’, or ‘fair play’, you owe a debt of thanks to the bard’s 400-year-old legacy. We’d liken that to a finely crafted piece of guerrilla marketing that you don’t really notice until you’re surrounded by it — and fallen for its charm.
Another way creative ad campaigns remain memorable and effective is through the use of perspective. Like Absolut Vodka, which has explored conventional subject matters with a fresh new visual perspective that relies on the shape of the bottle. That has been the crux of their long-running creative campaign and it’s touched a chord to the extent that many artists have used that creative campaign and the Absolut bottle as a starting point for their work.
When you think back to all these ideas, you realize that the Godfather trilogy did a couple of things right — showcasing the Italian American community in an ‘absolut’ely new manner, aiming for authenticity and relevance like the Amul Girl, and of course inspiring the next generation of artists to produce gems like The Sopranos. You definitely can’t learn to create things that age like fine wine without a little help from The Godfather.