I must admit that it’s been a few months since I wrote my last article here, and while letting you know that being swamped with projects (aside from the fact that life happened despite the pandemic) has gotten in the way, I feel that it’s no excuse to continue giving value to you.
Truth is, I had pause before I wrote this.
This pause-from-work period has allowed me to explore what Netflix has to offer when it comes to what I do. I mean, I’ve gotten inspiration from Netflix’s documentary films in the past, plus you know when you’re a marketer and you sporadically get ideas and inspiration from scenes in a movie? Yes, that was the kind of state I’ve been into lately.
So, during all that Netflix binge-watching-turned-binge-learning, I must say it was all worth it.
And oh, don’t worry, I didn’t watch all these movies and shows without any break, lol. I’ve seen some of them in the past and figured they also deserve to be in the list – at least in my list.
1. Emily in Paris
Emily in Paris is a Netflix TV series about, of course, Emily, a 20-something marketing professional based in Chicago who ends up replacing her boss on a business trip to Paris after the latter finds out the last minute that she’s pregnant.
The clash begins when Emily is tasked to bring an American point of view when it comes to marketing and advertising to an elite French marketing firm. While Emily finds herself at the losing end because she doesn’t know a single word in French, she still arms herself with what she holds as honest and authentic when it comes to marketing.
Favourite scene with marketing insight: Every episode is packed with modern marketing insights especially when it comes to social media, but my personal favourite is the naked model scene for a French perfume commercial, where the model walks past several men on a bridge and wearing nothing but the perfume. Known for her opinion on certain causes and advocacies combined with her wit in social media, Emily then suggests that they post a poll on Twitter asking followers whether the commercial is seen as “sexy” or “sexist”. Cliche as it may sound, but this alone is a perfect example on how a marketer can hit two birds with one stone: By asking what the audience thinks and promoting the product at the same time – without making it appear so.
“Joy” is a Netflix movie based on the life of Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a divorced woman who’s struggling to support her two young children as a ticket agent at Eastern Airlines.
Joy, known for being crafty and inventive since she was a child, creates the Miracle Mop, an idea she conceptualized after finding herself cut and wounded from the wine glass that breaks during a rough yacht sailing with her family member’s and dad’s girlfriend (who owns the yacht). She mops the spilled wine along with the broken glass, wrings the mop, and ends up with hands bleeding from the shards of the glass.
While Joy brings forth an inventive idea for the common household, she struggles like a typical individual who hardly has any business experience. This movie is probably an example where the don’ts in a startup business can be learned.
She eventually finds herself pitching her “Miracle Mop” on QVC and then builds herself a business empire, where she pays forward by helping struggling people pitch and market their business ideas.
Favourite scene with marketing insight: In the bathroom of QVC, where Joy demonstrates how the mop works and how efficient it is, she mops up the entire bathroom floor clean without a sweat. As the mop is made up of 300 feet of continuous cotton rope, Joy points out that not once did she have to wring the Miracle Mop as one would normally do every now and then with an ordinary mop.
This scene is the perfect example that illustrates the important pain points of traditional mop users (typically the housekeeper or stay at home moms) have to deal with: poor floor coverage with frequent rinsing and wringing, and an unsanitary mop head. Joy’s mop saved time with better floor coverage without having to rinse the mop frequently and was more sanitary because of the washable mop head, which can be easily tossed in a washing machine. Far more sanitary and safe.
This is the part where Neil, Joy’s contact at QVC, played by Bradley Cooper, then asks, “Can you get me 50,000 units of this by next week?” To which Joy responds, “I think so.”
Based on the book with the same title, Girlboss is about the entrepreneurial journey of Sophia Amoruso, who discovers her passion for vintage fashion (rhyme unintended) and becomes this no-nonsense businesswoman in the process.
As with most (if not all) fashion entrepreneurs, Sophia’s journey wasn’t an easy one.
The story starts with Sophia being a (sort of) misfit who’s usually tagged by society as someone without a “real job.” She goes by her day figuring out where to get the money to pay her rent, plus there’s her businessman father who continually nags her with phone calls (which she constantly rejects), hoping to convince her to help him with running his business which she has no interest in.
After discovering that she has this creative talent to effectively market and sell on eBay – from beautifully altering a vintage piece to make it more appealing to her target market, to taking impressive snapshots of her items, to injecting creative storytelling in product descriptions, to really creating a brand that stands out – she is able to practically sell a $10 piece to an easy $100 or even more.
As she starts to become a threat in getting a market share in the vintage clothing space on eBay, Sophia also gains attention and receives all these negative comments who are apparently from her competitor sellers.
Sophia nails a brand name that is out of the ordinary, neither romantic nor cheesy sounding that other sellers carry. Nasty Gal, a brand that is reflective of her in the sense that she defies what most vintage clothing sellers focus on (preserve the piece’s original form) and alter it to suit her customer’s taste.
While Sophia is perceived to be the “rebel” that she is, her reason for being such is to simply make her customers happy.
Favourite scene(s) with marketing insight: As Girlboss is pretty much a story of an entrepreneur, each episode is expected to be packed with at least one simple yet timeless marketing insight. If there’s probably one that is truly important and relevant today, it is that scene where Sophia finds herself in a time crunching and crucial situation where she ends up delivering a vintage wedding dress just minutes before the wedding of her customer. Not to mention that prior to this, she has to stressfully deal with the late delivery of the dress by the dry cleaners, plus the traffic, and the long walk she had to tread which even ends up with Sophia climbing the walls of her customer’s residence. While this can be an extreme example, it clearly depicts that a customer’s experience can either reveal a good or a bad review, which can either make or break a business.
4. Sherlock Holmes
This Netflix TV series is based on the original novel, “Sherlock Holmes,” which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the lead role.
Considered as the modern version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless novel, Sherlock Holmes, being the sleuth that he is, starts with the first episode of the 21st century crime investigation with his impeccable observation and deducing skills on his soon-to-be partner in crime, Doctor John Watson.
Dr John Watson, played by Martin Freeman, a military doctor who has just returned from service in Afghanistan with a psychosomatic limp, a bullet wound and a baggage of nightmares.
With just a glimpse of Dr. Watson, Sherlock almost instantly deduces that John is an army physician, who returned home from service with a psychosomatic limp who disapproves of his alcoholic divorcee brother (this part wasn’t quite accurate though).
Intrigued yet impressed at the same time, John ends up helping Sherlock “serial suicide” case in London, and they eventually become flatmates and partners in solving crimes.
Favorite scene/s with marketing insight: Sherlock Holmes is all about observation and accurate logical deduction. Every episode in Sherlock Holmes is packed with the showcase of his signature skills, which not only police and detectives can learn from but marketers, as well.
As long as Sherlock can immerse himself in his mind palace, he is able to draw out theories and conclusions that are almost considered 99% close to solving a crime. His strategy is pretty simple and practical: observe every detail, deduce and rule out the unnecessary.
Observation and the art of deduction are both important for entrepreneurs and marketers alike. These two basic skills are needed when we need to know how a market changes and how consumers behave. Such details are important to find and create opportunities.
Going through heaps of data to make marketing deductions can be challenging though, not to mention that not every marketer is a data expert. To prove ROI, marketers sometimes need to perform certain logical tests (e.g. A/B testing) to draw more accurate conclusions. There are also instances when marketers really need to observe. This is where social listening comes in handy. If you’re more of a customer-centric rather than a business-centric marketer or entrepreneur, this skill will provide you great ROI in the long run.
5. Second Act
While this movie has earned mixed reactions, I’m here to simply talk about what I learned and what other marketers can learn from it.
The story of Second Act revolves around Maya Vargas, a discount store employee who sets out into the world of the upper class and proves that street smarts are also worthy of recognition as book smarts (if not even more worthy).
As Maya, played by Jennifer Lopez, only holds on to her 15-year track record, street smarts, her birthday wish, but without an educational attainment to boot, she ends up disappointed after not getting the promotion of her dreams and loses it to Arthur, played by Dan Bucatinsky, a non-local employee with an MBA from Duke.
While her track record says it all, Maya’s boss doesn’t think so. In spite of Maya being effective and innovative because she listens to the store customers and always takes the time to know them on a deeper level, enough to come up with innovative marketing strategies, she still ends up calling it quits.
The conflict of the story progresses as Maya’s friend does a creative overhaul on her resume “decorated” with fake educational attainment and accomplishments. Maya then sets out her “second act” on Madison Avenue with the goal to prove that street smarts are equally (if not more) deserving of an upper management position role as book smarts.
Armed with her innovative and intuitive methods that helped her earn a track record in driving sales, in improving customer relations, and in creating a supportive and customer-centric culture, Maya then lands on a job interview from a prestigious company after having received her fake resume.
Maya eventually gets an offer, accepts the job, along with its perks of a huge, fancy apartment.
With the company’s beauty line getting revamped, Maya is now faced with a head-to-head challenge with Zoe, played by Vanessa Hudgens, who turns out to be Maya’s daughter who she gave up for adoption when she was just seventeen.
The challenge starts when Zoe insists on a more organic line while Maya comes up with a plan to make it all natural.
Favorite scene/s with marketing insight: The start of the movie has been packed with helpful marketing insights as Maya demonstrates how well she knows what customers want at the discount store and even what her co-employees want – which is really something basic yet very vital when coming up with any marketing strategy.
As the movie progresses though, one can learn that lying and just “winging” it can only get you so far. Honesty is still the best way to build a relationship, something that’s also very important in marketing.
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is a memoir based on Jordan Belfort’s life. During the 90s, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) teamed with his partner Donny Azoff and started brokerage firm Stratford-Oakmont, after Belfort got terminated from his job at Wall Street.
Armed with what he learned at Wall Street, Belfort drastically grows his team of 20 to over 200. Along with the growth and nonstop cash flows comes lies, deceit and substance abuse to the point that it has become a part of the company’s culture.
As the company makes its mark in the trading community, along with hitting jackpot after jackpot on high trades, so does the FBI becomes more interested in them and their questionable trading schemes.
Favorite scene/s with marketing insight: Over the past 7 years or so, the classic, “Sell Me This Pen” scene from this movie has grown to be a standard interview question for sales people.
The scene where Belfort gathers his team in a restaurant and teaches them their first sales lesson by pulling out a pen and saying, “sell me this pen” is probably a favorite among sales professionals and seasoned marketers. Anyhow, the scene progresses with each member doing a failed attempt to sell the pen, until one character takes the pen from Belfort and tells him to try to write his name on a napkin.
In sales and marketing, we have to come off as a problem solver, not a seller. The premise that no one wants being sold to still holds true today and even in the years to come. Creating the need or making the customer realize a need makes it far much easier to avail of a solution – whether it’s a product or service – than having to convince at the onset how good a product (or service) is.
Set in South Korea’s Silicon Valley-like incubation venue called Sandbox, “Start-up” tells a story about the world of startup companies and the people involved in it.
This Korean Drama series on Netflix revolves around a young woman, Seo Dal-Mi, who has dreams of becoming an CEO like Steve Jobs, a man who grew up as an orphan (Han Ji-pyeong) and is secretly her first love, another young man, Nam Do-san, who is known to be a Math genius as a child and running his own startup with his friends (who is pretending to be Seo Dal-Mi’s first love at the same time), and another young woman who is Seo Dal-Mi’s sister who wants to prove she has what it takes to be a CEO.
The story starts with Seo Chung-Myung, a struggling salesman who barely makes ends meet to support his family. Armed with only a vision and a business idea and no moral support from a wife who believes that he has to stay in his routine job to feed the family, Seo Chung-Myung finds himself divorced, left by his wife and eldest daughter, Seo In-Jae, who later changes her name to Won In-Jae after her mother remarries business tycoon, Won Doo-Jung.
Seo Dal-Mi, the younger daughter who is left with his father and grandmother, eventually finds herself continuing her father’s dream, after the latter dies of internal bleeding caused by a vehicular accident as he was on his way to do a business pitch. His pitch won an investment but did not materialize because of his death.
With the need to make $90k to open her own business, Seo Dal-Mi drops out of the university and takes a part-time work at a coffee shop. Like her father, she dreams of becoming a CEO with likes of Steve Jobs.
After 15 years of separation from her mother and sister, Seo Dal-Mi feels the need to prove that she has made the right decision to stay with her father by pretending to be already successful. She finds herself trapped in all sorts of problems – from proving her worth, to eventually choosing whether a love from 15 years ago or from the present deserves her attention.
“Young entrepreneurs aspiring to launch virtual dreams into reality compete for success and love in the cutthroat world of Korea’s high-tech industry.” —Official Netflix synopsis
Favorite scene/s with marketing insight: When the immediate objective of a business is to monetize, identifying your target client could be a struggle, but if you know your purpose and that your purpose is about solving other people’s problems, knowing who you want to serve becomes much easier, and so does monetizing it.
This lesson is depicted in different scenes in the series. First, is when each startup registrant to the residency program completes the sentence, “I want to launch my startup because…” and writes the answer on a round colored paper. Another is when each team representative does her (or his) own pitch and presentation. Third, is when Director Yoon of Sandbox shares her observation about how startup leads think, particularly the reason behind their business ideas.
At the end of the day, success is within reach if we know what our purpose is, if we know our WHY.