Monday, 26 October 2015

The Bond team triumph again – by thinking like magicians

The new James Bond film Spectre is magnificent in many different ways, but one reviewer has chosen to focus in a negative way on one of the fundamental reasons for its success.

Sam Mendes' film spends more time making sly references to Bond’s past glories than coming up with fresh ideas, said the Evening Standard on Friday.  Maybe the reviewer hasn’t been listening to Daniel Craig’s careful explanations of the strategy for re-booting the franchise, and he certainly seems to be ignorant of some important principles of the workings of effective communication.

My own take on these principles is the ‘Rules of Magic’ – techniques that the best magicians deploy instinctively and which prove every bit as effective in the world at large. Bond films follow many of the Rules of Magic – perhaps most obviously Firsts & Lasts are remembered (Rule 13), but the key here is Rule 3: Communication can only be effective when it builds on what the audience already knows. So when I am helping people to create and deliver business presentations I am constantly urging them to build in familiar reference points that spark meaning in the minds of the audience, so that the main message can be built upon that meaning.

From a personal and professional point of view I was therefore delighted to find Spectre liberally sprinkled with familiar reference points. The challenge was to build a new story on top of these iconic elements and that was both achieved and aided by a sharp juxtaposition of the old and the new.

I would love to tell you more about these delightful moments but I am not going to for two reasons. First I don’t want to spoil the surprises and second, I’m actually writing under an embargo here. I was very fortunate to be invited to a preview by my friends at Aston Martin. Funnily enough, the Evening Standard makes no mention of what continues to be Bond’s car of choice. Maybe he thinks that requires some ‘fresh ideas’ as well!

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