This is a story about storytelling. I used to wonder what skill sets I had honed over 15-plus years as a film producer that were applicable to the world of business beyond Hollywood. I mean, did anyone at IBM care that I knew Tom Hanks or could get Brad Pitt's agent on the phone? Probably not, but I soon realized that the ability to tell a story did matter. And, in fact, it's the absolute most important (and undervalued) skill in all of business. The person who tells her story succinctly in a job interview gets the gig. The person who takes complicated data points and puts them into an engaging story becomes the team leader. And the person who eloquently articulates the story of her digital media startup vision gets to skip all the usual mistakes of a first-time entrepreneur.
Kenny Powers is a champion athlete, famous shoe endorser, and thanks to a brilliantly orchestrated hostile takeover, the MFCEO of K-SWISS, Inc. He's bigger than cable television and/or drugs. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, try tuning into the smartest marketing move in the history of mankind.The idea to "hire" Kenny Powers as a spokesman came from Matt Murphy and Glenn Cole of brand agency 72andSunny. I don't know who green-lighted the idea at K-SWISS, but I commend his or her phenomenal cojones.
I refer a lot of consulting projects to my friends these days. But I also keep a few gigs for myself when they seem particularly interesting. These allow me to have a hand in answering pressing questions about digital media and entertainment for hedge funds, private equity groups, and film and TV studios-which means that I spend a lot of time pontificating. With a schedule that leads me to consume content in snack sizes, I thought it'd be fitting to point out some of the tidbits upon which recent media engagements have caused me to pontificate:
By Richard Hull
- May 2012 Issue
Posted May 29, 2012
I recently had lunch with a senior-level film producer who is based on one of the major studio lots. He's a guy who has spent his entire career navigating within the studio folds. Despite his young age, he has been very successful at it, having had a hand in some really great movies over the last decade. The purpose of our lunch, however, was for him to lament that nothing innovative ever happens at his studio. His feeling was that the model of film producing today is broken, and his greatest fear is waking up at age 50 and suddenly finding himself irrelevant. Sure, his studio would survive ... but would he?
Whereas my personal Los Angeles community of technological early adopters tends to be driven to buy the coolest, most cutting-edge gadgets, we often forget (and I'm the most guilty here) that a huge chunk of the population is driven more by a good value. It could be a function of generation, socioeconomic status, the overall economy, or simply priorities, but while I expected to immediately put digital deals in place with my new film library, I've been forced to recognize that I must first focus on selling this audience entertainment in the way that it wants it right now. That just happens to be on the uber-traditional DVD.
As digital natives immerse themselves in emerging entertainment channels-and concurrently force old ones to change in order to meet their expectations-they are reshaping the way people are entertained, as well as how they entertain. In the natives' world, the tools of content creation available through these emerging platforms are free (or cheap) and readily accessible. And they have been that way since a native first thumbed his name into a smartphone.
For Hollywood studios, rigidly defined distribution windows have traditionally dictated the sequential release of a movie: first exclusively in theaters, then on DVD, then on premium cable, and so forth. Previously pleasant relationships are being strained as theater owners try to maintain their place in the chain and studios try to bleed out as many bucks as are left in Walmart's dying (but still substantial) DVD revenues. As these battles distract the traditional Hollywood players, new platforms are quickly sneaking past the guards.
By Richard Hull
- May 2011 Issue
Posted May 09, 2011
One day last October, we looked up and-unbelievably-the Rangers had made it to the hallowed World Series. These underdogs' day had come: They were finally the big dogs. Today, the same has come true with content. For most of my life, content has been limited to a handful of sources: a radio, a book, a TV. But now, content has become limitless in the ways that it dominates our lives.
I was part of a conversation the other day with the CEO of a niche animation company. He explained the company's digital strategy, which was to drive audiences solely to its website because, as he boasted, once your living room television talks to the internet, people will navigate to his company's site and it'll have "twice as much value." This presented me with the opportunity to hypothesize on what actually might happen when your TV does merge with the web.
Though we're still very much in the Wild West of digital content, what we see today often feels like history repeating itself. This notion must have triggered considerable thought among audience members because I spent the rest of the day being stopped in the halls and reminded of more and more instances in which this was proving true. And while it's safe to say that I'm no history scholar, it is clear that the people who forget history are doomed to repeat it.