Hooked on (New) Classics

Old wooden drawers

Have you seen the trailer for the new Dune movie?

It opens like trailers for most blockbuster films. Our hero, played by Timothée Chalamet, is clearly in for an adventure of grand scale. Dramatic music swells as he’s shown a dangerous path. As the trailer starts to pick up the pace, the music changes to something oddly familiar – a rearranged rendition of the Pink Floyd song Eclipse, the closing track from The Dark Side of the Moon (one of the best rock albums of all time).

For those who don’t recognize the music or lyrics, it created instant curiosity. What is that song? Rolling Stone reported that on-demand streams of Eclipse increased by 50% after the Dune trailer debuted September 9. Digital sales of the song increased 1,750%. The same article reported that streams of Eclipse on Spotify were up 54 percent, and more than 80% of those who streamed the track the day the trailer came out were playing it for the first time.

Those of us of a certain age (cough) instantly recognized the song. It sparked curiosity, too, but the curiosity of encountering the familiar in an unfamiliar context. 

Dune director Denis Villeneuve is not the first to use this approach to market a movie. It’s an oft-used tactic. David Fincher used a reworked version of Radiohead’s Creep in the trailer for The Social Network. The trailer for Dark Phoenix used a version of The Doors’ This is the End. San Andreas used a beautiful cover of California Dreamin’ performed by Sia.

In all these instances, a piece of classic content – a song – helped a new piece of content resonate with users.

The beauty of this approach isn’t connecting a young audience to an old song or making a new movie relevant to an older audience. The magic is that it bonds both audiences together through discovery and familiarity.

Content marketers can do this too.

When one of our content pieces resonates (a customer story wins an award, a great thought leadership piece raises an exec’s profile, or an article or video goes viral), we have the proverbial “hit song.”

Too often we ride the high of the hit until it fades – and we never revisit it or try to rework it.  Don’t forget about your hits.

I relearned this just the other day. For a white paper I produced earlier this year, I reworked the introduction from a paper I’d written 10 years ago and referenced the original work heavily.

A potential new client mentioned that introduction in a note to me. He said it felt vaguely familiar so (and here are the magic words), “I went back and read it. It made the new paper really approachable.”

It’s a small thing – but it’s a handy trick to add to our content toolbox. Find, and rework your classics into your new ideas. When people see the oddly familiar in a new context – it can solidify a bond with your new content.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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