It’s hard to remember back over twenty five years when the last original episode of The Love Boat aired. Of course, that show has been in heavy syndication since then and the mythology has it that an episode is constantly playing somewhere in the world. But back in 1985 it was considered to have ‘jumped the shark’ and network execs felt justified in pulling the plug. Little did they know, however, that the lame little show would have a huge impact far beyond the entertainment world. It can reasonably be stated that The Love Boat launched a multi-billion dollar Cruise Industry that services over 13 million people a year and continues to grow. But The Love Boat had help. Enter, The Association!
In 1985 Princess Cruises asked us to make a promotional film to convince people to forsake a land-base vacation for the pleasures of a Princess Cruise. At the time, the industry served less than a million people and Princess had four ships, including the Island and Pacific Princesses, the original “Love Boats”. It was truly an unbelievable assignment and, realizing how fortunate we were, we set out to make the World’s Greatest Cruise Line Promotional Film. The success of our film was evidenced by the fact that Princess used it as their main sales and promotional piece for nearly ten years! It was also the first of over 150 films and videos we produced for Princess over the next twenty-four years. There are now 12 ships in the fleet with a capacity twenty times greater than when we signed on. Coincidence? We think not.
Although, we really can’t take total credit for the success of Princess Cruises and the greater Cruise Industry, there is no question that our original film was extremely successful both from an artistic and a business point of view. Why? Well, it wasn’t because we were such creative or experienced filmmakers. We weren’t. The real reason this film did so well was because we did the primary and secondary research on the potential audience really, really well. We asked dozens of travel agents about their clients’ views on cruising. Why they would or wouldn’t, what they expected, what they feared. We took a cruise and asked everyone on board why they were there, why they chose Princess, what they liked and didn’t like, etc. etc. We finally developed a crystal clear view of exactly what potential cruise passengers thought and what they would respond to. Then we went out and made a film that played to just those points. We knew it would be successful before we even started editing, simply because it addressed the audiences expectations.
Over the years we have employed this simple technique numerous times. In fact, we never make commercial productions without at least some survey of the prospective audience and their viewpoints. These days we utilize Optimized Market Research with one of our professional survey partners to do an in depth study so we can really get a handle on the viewing audience. It is probably the single most important activity of all of the many actions that result in a completed film. We are amazed when others in our industry don’t do this. It can almost guarantee success. This is just as true now as it was twenty-four years ago.
So if you want a successful commercial, promo or marketing video, regardless of the medium in which it’s shot or ultimately shown or displayed, never forget the market research data collection. Research your audience. Don’t shoot a frame before you really feel comfortable that you know exactly what that audience will respond to.As we say, “Know before you go.”