I believe the future of television, video games, content creation, as well as social mediums can be seen in the new Netflix release Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.. The film was released on December 28th, with almost no PR campaign except for one sneak trailer that teased about an interactive form of video streaming. When I first saw the movie pop up in my Netflix feed, I had a quizicall reaction after reading the film description. It mentioned that the film was interactive based, or ‘choose your own path’ by using the remote control to make decisions for the main character–thus altering the story and its ending.
I said, ‘What the hell.’ And tried it.
Naturally, I was pulled in like many other RPG gamers who like a nice story with options. My favorite video game is Fallout, a game series that represents a post nuclear apocalyptic world where the player escapes an underground vault that has been sealed for 200 years–what was the last attempt for humanities survival—and enters the wasteland where the player can choose his own path and play alternative story lines according to his game kharma and choices.
Bandersnatch was the same way. At the beginning, the options began when I was prompted to choose whether the main character should eat Sugar Puffs or Frosted Flakes. Then I could choose what music he listened to in the background of the movie. And next whether I wanted to work at Tuckerson Software–and program my Bandersnatch game there–or go out on my own devices and program it in my bedroom for the September 1st release date… (Notice how I am describing the characters journey as my journey. That I am saying I when describing the story.)
That’s because these sort of interactive story lines–where you decide the characters fates—get you emotionally invested into what happens. It’s natural. It’s because we are human and we have the ability to emphasize. And because we have some control over what happens to our characters, we naturally feel invested in their lives.
It’s the same thing in RPG video games. In Fallout 3, the story has the choice whether to live in a cozy house in Megaton—a shack town surrounding a giant nuclear bomb that fell during the apocalypse but never exploded– or it gives the option to detonate the megaton bomb and live an alternative reality with a richy rich loft in the Tenpenny towers.
One thing is universally true about people: They Love choices.
Unless they are too overwhelmed by choices, which does sometimes occur with people who like others to make choices for them…
But as a general rule of thumb–especially in business–people love having options. Go into a gas station, there are always many drink, snack, and food options. The more options, the more attractive the store.
Don’t send out one proposal to a customer, send out an A/B/or C option. And let them find the most attractive choice by juxtaposing the other options.
After watching the movie Bandersnatch–or should I say playing the movie—I felt compelled to go back and play all the alternative story lines. I did… I went back like 15 different times and played all the alternative realities.. I decided to get the Frosted Flakes instead of the Sugar Puffs. I decided not to take the Acid from Colin. I punched in a different code on the computer… Each decision led to a different fate… (And I’m pretty sure I hit most of them but there was still one that I know I missed and it really irritated me.)
But what’s the point I’m trying to make: Options like this get the consumer emotionally connected to the product.
And when a consumer is emotionally attached to a product—when many consumers are emotionally attached—it creates a culture. Like cells in a petri dish, it spawns little colonies of persons who are as they say, ‘drinking the kool aid.’
Look at the culture surrounding the Fallout series. I met a chiropractor who has the little Fallout guy tattooed on his arm. People who collect all the Fallout memorabilia; posters, bobbleheads, chessgames, apparel, the list goes on and on.
When people are emotionally connected to a product, they will go crazy and consume whatever is related to that emotional experience they feel from the original product. That sets up for the ultimate sales funnel.
Bandersnatch opened my eyes to where the future of product marketing is heading… As social media becomes more interactive—maybe one day being hologram, it’s going to open the door for marketers to create entire subcultures around their products and services.
This is a marketer’s dream come true.
Imagine a day when people are fawning over whatever you produce. It doesn’t matter if you sign a napkin, crazed fans eat it up. Back in the day, this sort of fame was only reserved for rockstars–and the fans were called groupies.
But now anybody with a computer, commitment, and a highly converting sales funnel can do the same.
It’s like that movie with Leonardo Dicaprio playing the famed inventor of jetplanes, Howard Hughes, when he loses his mind and just keeps repeating over and over: It’s the way of the future! It’s the way of the future! It’s the way of the future!
Sales funnels that create sub-cultures are the way of the future!