This past Saturday night me and my nine and ten year old sons went to see the new Lego Batman movie.
I would like to say that they begged me to take them, but it was really the other way around. Because I love Batman and I love Legos!
And I have been so impressed with how Lego has re-invented itself from a stodgy manufacturer of plastic kid's building blocks into to one of the leading toy and entertainment brands in the world.
We excitedly made our way to the theater, and a mere $71.90 later were all happily chomping on our popcorn and enjoying a movie that entertains on all of the best levels: visually impressive, funny, and thought provoking for a mixed-age audience.
And when I read on Monday that the movie topped the box office charts with over $90 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend (against a production cost of only $80 million!), the phrase that immediately came to my mind was “Commercial Frankenstein.”
Yes, in making the movie Lego has mixed, matched and “Frankensteined” together a number of disparate concepts, storylines, and brands to create a new business form.
A form monetizable with new customers and with multiple, additional revenue streams associated with it.
And we can all learn a lot from their crazy creation!
Their first Frankensteins is the obvious combo-ing of the Lego and Batman brands.
For our purposes here, the basic concept is to “sizzle up” a somewhat flat and functional brand (Lego) by pairing it with a far more glamorous one (Batman!).
Restaurants famously do this by adorning their walls with pictures of celebrities enjoying their food.
Smart service providers do the same - highlighting in their marketing collateral and on their websites famous and well respected clients.
Co-hosting industry events is another great way to do this, as it can allow our brand to “bask in the reflective glow” of more "exciting" people and businesses in our space.
Another basic but often overlooked concept to borrow from a big tentpole movie like Lego Batman is to cross-sell and upsell everywhere and anywhere.
Lego goes all out - ubiquitous merchandising tie-ins, video games, cartoons, theme park attractions, sequels, etc.
An easy way to put this concept to work is through a “VIP Tier.” What this tier might lack in volume of buyers because of its higher price points it can more than make up for with profitability and the ability to “sell off premium” and thereby drive up pricing for more "core" product and service lines.
Finally, there is Lego’s clever expansion of its target demographic.
Lego, at its core, is a children’s brand. Batman’s demographic overlaps with this for sure, but skews older.
Then, the movie’s clever scripting and snappy dialogue (go see the movie, it is great!) accomplishes that holy grail of any kids' film: appealing to parents and an older audience.
We can do the same by finding the marketing “adjacencies” - those potential buyers just one level removed from our core customer demographic.
For software companies, it could be repurposing code to serve a related business process. For accountants, it could be selling predictive analytic and "Big Data" tools to help clients better forecast sales and cash flow.
And “Commercial Frankenstein” thought processes like these aren’t just limited to just marketing and sales.
In every business, ample opportunities always abound to morph operational and customer services processes to different and more vibrant forms.
It is as simple as mixing and matching traditional elements in ways that haven't been done before and then see what comes out....
When Lego did this, they transformed a boring plastic bricks business into a brand worth more than $7 billion.
How much value can you unlock by doing the same?