5 Marketing lessons to learn from Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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MI: Rogue nation is the 5th movie in the Tom Cruise series. It cost about $150 million to make and as of August 29 has grossed $445.6 million. Did I also mention that it opens in China on September 8? This ensures that this movies’ ROI train is still very much in motion.

Apart from its entertainment value, I also came across a few lessons that your marketing efforts could benefit from. Not to worry, I won’t reveal anything that will spoil the movie experience for you. This is spoiler free territory

  1. An interesting and engaging story can refresh an aging brand –the original Mission: Impossible was a TV series created in the 1960s; it was then rebooted in the 90’s leveraging Tom Cruise’s star power. Almost 20 years later the franchise is still enjoying relevance in popular culture and turnover at the box office. In fact, the story in this particular one is so interesting that you forget to realize that a man of Tom Cruise’s age (53) shouldn’t be doing those kinds of stunts. An example of how this applies to marketing is the case of Old Spice. The Old Spice brand was suffering in sales in the early 2000s because it was seen as an ancient relic that only people’s Grandfathers used, but thanks to the Man your man could smell like campaign(link found below), their products saw a new lease of life.


  1. A good brand story needs a villain – in my opinion, this movie had a very intimidating villain who seemed to anticipate the heroes’ every move. What made the story “sweet” was that our protagonists had to dig deep to defeat the bad guy. If a brand can introduce this dynamic into their narrative, it makes the story even more engaging. In telling a brand story, the product/story needs to be positioned as the hero whiles the need/problem as the villain. This “good versus evil” conflict resolution is what makes for great storytelling. Every brand offers some service or product that fulfills some sort of need. Beats by Dre is empowering listeners to hear music the way the producer intended. Steve Jobs made good use of this in telling Apple’s story, case in point is the iconic Apple 1984 ad. 


  1. Position yourself so that other people tell your story – as implied in the lesson above, a hero is only as great as his adversary is. In this movie, the villain had created so much of a reputation that he hardly (if ever) spoke about himself. His actions and “minions” did his talking for him, instilling respect and fear within his ranks and in the minds of his enemies. For a brand to be successful, it needs to position itself in such a manner that the people in its ecosystem are talking about it. Great marketing should drive “talkability” among your users and non-users. A good example is the “I don port O” ad of 2013 (link at the bottom), whether you liked MTN or not you were definitely talking about them.


  1. No great plan can be executed without a good team – As much as Tom Cruise was the hero of this movie, it was clearly established that he couldn’t have successfully executed the mission without the help of a good team. No matter how beautiful a vision or a plan is, it means nothing if the right hands are not there to bring it to life. From the creative agency to the suppliers, every marketing campaign is only as successful as the competent people who fit the pieces together.


  1. Product placement should enhance the story – the opening credits for this movie should have been in this order: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, BMW, and then everyone else! This film received a generous spread of vehicles from the german automobile maker (even the motorbikes were all BMW) but thankfully not at the detriment of the plot. When most companies do product placement they just look for a place to shoehorn their product; not considering that viewers don’t care about your product/service they care about the movie’s plots/characters. Another good example of product placement in my opinion was Lekki Gardens in 30 days in Atlanta while a not so great example was The return of Jenifa. Find a creative way to make your product a part of the plot.


MI: Rogue Nation is an entertaining movie and I recommend you go see it. If you live in Nigeria, you can check www.tripican.com to see it at Cinema near you.

Written by:

Bolaji Iwayemi Team Lead, Consumer Business Marketing at Pagatech Limited.


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