The new film version of Godzilla 2014 has premiered, and I simply cannot wait to watch it. Aside from the fantastic acting that I’m sure Bryan Cranston will delight us with, the cinematography in the trailers just looks fantastic and true to the original (very much unlike the 1998 bore-fest by the same name). Godzilla is here, it’s huge, and it’s scary as it should be.
The movie’s publicity team has been doing a great job of keeping the subject afloat, with a precisely-timed teaser that barely revealed the monster’s face, up to the more recent ones in which more of its features are shown. I’m sure it will be a complete smash early enough before the usual Summer Blockbuster season.
Now, I believe we can use anything as an inspiration for good creativity. The question I want to entertain for a bit is: What can we learn from Godzilla from a content development point of view? Here are three thoughts:
1- Godzilla is a fantastic example of evergreen content.
The gnarly monster’s first appearance was in the predictably-titled film “Godzilla,” from 1954. Since then, the world has never again been the same. Even though Daikaiju (“Giant Monster”) films have existed since the King Kong era, there was a celebrity status written all over the giant lizard.
However, something about it caters to our natural fears and sense of insecurity, in such a way that the Godzilla concept refuses to get old. Even the older movies are remembered by younger generations as if they grew up with them. The impending success of the 2014 version of the movie will be due to a very simple fact: Nobody needs to be convinced that Godzilla is a household name. It already is, therefore the newer derivations will be consumed.
I doubt the original creators could imagine that 60 years later, we would be discussing Godzilla as if it were a completely familiar concept to us.
If you’re generating content for long-term results, don’t overlook this fact. You’re better off sticking with content that won’t look or feel old after a year or two.
Lesson: Nothing says you cannot create content that resists the test of time, so don’t purposefully block it from happening.
2- Godzilla is an example of a strong identity.
There are certain changes and updates you can make to Godzilla’s identity, but if you go too far, it crosses the line into becoming just another Kaiju. In fact, this was the main gripe against the 1998 film: It was not upright enough, its muzzle was too long, it looked too much like a crocodile, etc.. From what we can tell from the trailers, even though the 2014 version looks different than the 1954 version, it still managed to preserve the main identity components that bring it instant recognition.
When Godzilla came out in 1954, as goofy as its special effects seem to us today, it had the “it” factor. There was a unique identity to it. Even the screeching/roaring sound, created through very rudimentary means during its origins, saw its way into most of the Japanese versions of the films.
My children say that they will shout with joy if in the 2014 version, they get to see Godzilla shooting its famous luminescent blue ray from its mouth, and in the same turn will be disappointed if it doesn’t. Without each of these elements, Godzilla loses a bit of its identity. It becomes Superman without the cape, Mickey Mouse without the round ears, or Bart Simpson with his hair slicked back instead of the jaggy points on top.
When creating content, we need to be aware of which brand we’re writing under —whether a corporate voice, or a personal/professional brand — and then our content decisions need to be curated beneath that. Anything that departs too much is going to break the perception in your audience’s mind that this is coming from the same source they signed up for, and may alienate a good number of them.
Lesson: Don’t be afraid to build your branded content with a strong sense of identity; but once you do, be very careful about making drastic changes to it.
3- Godzilla is popular because it appeals to our emotions.
This monster has got the “larger than life” motto down pretty well. Something about seeing Godzilla walking through streets and tearing down building after building appeals to our deepest feelings of frailty and insecurity. At the same time, its sheer magnitude makes us look upward in awe. It’s almost the same sense of amazement we felt when we were children and found out about dinosaurs for the very first time;
only much scarier, and therefore more real to us.
The creators of each Godzilla film don’t hide their intentions, they’re right there in the open. The big fanfare soundtrack, fire and explosions, massive destruction, everything is built in a way to appeal to emotions we all know you feel. They can direct their film decisions towards these emotions without shame because they know there’s no way they can be wrong about what you’re feeling.
When we generate content that will be processed emotionally rather than intellectually, there’s no reason we need to be subtle about it. Be as clear as you need to be. The more genuine your intention, the better chances of actually identifying with your audience at a deep level.
Lesson: Build content that is emotionally appealing, and be bold about making your intentions clear.
Can you think of any other ideas or takeaways from Godzilla? Add some of your own ideas in the comments.