Tonights the big night and I’ll bet you know about it. You’ve been hearing all about it for weeks and weeks. Your friends have been mentioning it, you’ve seen ads, you’ve seen clips, you’ve seen behind the scenes footage and it all culminates tonight!
The Dark Knight Rises debuts at Midnight.
“Gotham, take control… take control of your city. Behold, the instrument of your liberation! Identify yourself to the world!”
This campaign has been everywhere and I’m sure that the movie is going to be enjoyable. The series has definitely been amazing and this is the final chapter. We want to see how things end up for the Caped Crusader, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and if Gotham City survives.
This movie is going to be a blockbuster. Everything about it, the ads, the reviews, everything says success. It’s like the subtext of all the advertising is telling us, “You don’t want to miss out”.
So what can we learn from this movie and the Dark Knight Trilogy as you’re prepping your team for a huge fourth quarter campaign? Here’s a few things we can learn from Christopher Nolan and the ethos of heroes.
Let’s think of the first two movies as an event. Each event had a marketing campaign around it. If you can remember the campaigns at all they grew with each installment. Each film was bigger than the last – there has been an obvious tension and it grows with each piece of the trilogy. The villains have been getting bigger an badder. First it was Liam Neeson as R’as al Ghul then Heath Ledger as the chaotic Joker and finally Tom Hardy as the diabolical Bane.
Each obstacle that our hero has to overcome makes Batman better. Just like each campaign that your cause completes makes your organization better known. And a better known cause doesn’t struggle to raise funds. The only way we know that the hero is quality is by the battles their involved in. The same goes for your organization – each campaign provides subtext for who you are, the people that make up your organization and the war that you’re waging.
Become the Hero
Batman is a hero. I bet your organization is too. The thing about Batman since his Inception (See what I did there?) in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 is that he’s morphed over time. Think about any organization that’s been around since before World War II. I bet that organization doesn’t look the same, I’m sure at the core, they are still fulfilling their mandate but the logos and how that organization functions (their modes and strategies) is very different.
Over the years we’ve seen Batman start as a detective with a gun and seen him morph to a tech leaning genius, the rugged older man ready to end things in The Dark Knight Returns and a futuristic hero in Batman Beyond. For each of these stories in the ethos of Batman he’s surrounded himself with different sidekicks and helpers. These characters help us get to know Batman because they usually ask the questions we’re wondering. The writer knows we’re going to have questions but having our hero prattle on with massive exposition isn’t helpful and can be viewed as condescending to the audience, so the side characters give us the info.
Your organization can learn from this. Make sure that there are ways for your story to answer questions along the way. One mode might be informal monthly updates or you could interview a donor. Anticipate that there will be questions – just because you’re dealing with this same topic day in and day out doesn’t mean it’s as obvious to your audience.
Show the Villain
Bane is part of the new breed of villain. Not only is he incredibly smart (Eidetic memory, can speak 8 languages and is well versed in science) but he’s incredibly powerful (grew up in prison, overthrew cartels) and super strong.
I’m quite sure that Christopher Nolan will take his time showing us just how terrible Bane is. Showing us in action and words of many of the main characters to help fill in the details. In this last, epic fight for Gotham City, Batman will have to rise to the occasion.
What about your villain? How is your fourth quarter campaign going to define your fight. How will you report back to show how things are going? How will build on your summer/fall campaign to propel you into the holiday season? Spend some time showing your cause in the light of your foe. Will those families get clean water? Will malaria be wiped out? Help your audience understand what your up against.
Note: If you’re not doing great this year, that’s ok. Why? Because we love an underdog. Tell us about the trouble and ask for our help. If you’ve been bringing us along with you on this journey, it only makes sense that we help you when you need it.
Don’t Play By the Rules
The final movie in any trilogy is like a retelling of the first story but the ante is raised so high. Final films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or Back to the Future III are bigger versions of the first films in their respective trilogies. The each have a piece we’re familiar with (Holy relics/ a story largely in one time continuum) but they also throw us for a loop. In Indiana Jones we learn of the father/son dynamic that really shaped Harrison Fords character into what he is. And in Back to the Future III, we see Emmett Brown as part of a love story and as much more as the hero of the story.
Dark Knight Rises will do the same thing. It will show us about the transformation of the hero. The same transformation that made Bruce Wayne into Batman will now transform him into something new/something more. The first movie was all about a coming of age. This will be about how he remains. Plus they throw in Catwoman and a possible Robin. Now there’s a Batwing (the batplane) and general chaos through this film.
And now for your organization – Call on all of the things that have made you a great organization. Don’t do the same old, same old. Give your audience something that they can know this is distinctly your cause but it’s just more. Call a blitz, kick on third down, and whatever you do, make sure you’re not obvious.
Let me encourage you to see this movie and picture your organization as Batman. Think about what he’s doing the whole time. What subtext is Nolan showing us as an audience? How does Nolan keep us tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Then ask yourself this:
What do you have planned for this fall? Are you allowing your audience opportunities to interact and insert themselves into your campaign?