Selling Inception

Lynda Obst says that the “word around Hollywood” was that Inception would be only a minor success. Too weird, too hard to explain, etc.  Then the PR team took over and made it into a Movie Event. In her telling, here’s how they did it:

They turned Chris Nolan into a star—not a movie star, but a cinema star. No director had accomplished this, except Spielberg. […] The materials cut by the WB team were taut, dramatic, consistent, and told a narrative:

1. This is an event.
2. This Director (Capital D)—who made Dark Knight—is the Real Thing.
3. It’s about dreams.
4.  This movie is cool.
5.  Here’s all the story you need.
5.  It’s action: mucho action.
6.  Here’s Leo.
7. He goes home.
8. Visuals are mind-blowing.
9. More action.
10. You have never seen anything like this.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

The philosopher Peter Singer wrote a moving book called The Life You Can Save, which makes a powerful moral case that all of us should be doing more to help the poorest of the poor.

The video below provides a 3-minute intro to his thinking. (Disclosure: I helped to create this video, along with my friends Jeff Sims and David Hamburger.) You can learn more at his website*.

I desperately want Singer’s idea to stick: We can, and we should, save lives. If you agree, will you help me spread the word about his work?

Here’s a suggested Tweet*: “I’m IN to end poverty. http://bit.ly/ca490h

* Special thanks to Brains on Fire (and Justin Gammon) for their extraordinary work on the site. Also thanks to Paul Rand for the slogan.

The Birth of a Sticky Idea

Our latest Fast Company column was sparked by a provocative public health ad:

pouring on the pounds

In the piece, we wonder whether sugary sodas will be the next cigarettes…

The Dirtiest Hotels in the World

This is a brilliant promotion from TripAdvisor. Got it via email and it was the one promo email, out of the last 500, that I’ve clicked thru to see. How can you not?  Its strength is its unexpectedness — most companies would be too chicken to try something like this.

From a review of the #1 hotel on the list: “It makes a crack house look like a Hilton. There are mice, roaches, bedbugs,and crack heads all living at this Hell Hole! The hotel itself smells and is filthy from the disgusting bedspread to the filthy bathroom.”

Endless fun and great marketing.

(For you Houstonians out there — this reminds me of the irresistible appeal of dearly departed Marvin Zindler‘s TV reports. “There was SLIIIIIME IN THE ICE MACHINE!”)

Bill Gates at TED

In his talk at TED, Bill Gates released a jar full of mosquitoes, sending them out to feast on some of the world’s best & brightest blood. “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” he said. “I brought some. Here, I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” He then waited a few minutes before reassuring the crowd that the mosquitoes were malaria-free.

A bit mean, maybe, but at least he broke through to people’s emotions.

He also used a nice comparison: “There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria,” Gates quipped, triggering laughter. “Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why that priority has been set.”

I’ll link to the video once it’s posted.