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5 Things PR Can Learn from Transformers

t4 parachutes

Because sometimes PR people need a parachute to help slow them down.

ICYMI: Michael Bay blew another part of Hong Kong and Detroit into the Stone Age with the unveiling of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.’ It was mildly successful, earning $104 million to score the the largest opening weekend of the tetralogy.

This may be a surprise to some, but I found myself in one of those weekend theaters, grasping a large caffeinated beverage with cargo shorts full of cheap snacks from Walmart (Oh please! Like I was the only one). And while I was watching Optimus Prime get all ‘Urban Cowboy’ on a dinobot, the oddest 5 Things came to my flacky brain: 5 things PR pros can actually learn from Transformers.

transformers ads1. Product Placement Is Worthless. Whenever there isn’t an ad agency handy, this is something a few PR people say they can do Product placement works in movies and TV if you know what they are doing. Your skills are set aside; the producer’s objective is what pays the bills. How many car brands (particularly that of GM) zoom along the screen with only a blur…and then who honestly cares about the logo? More explosions, please. The more prominent product placement happens to be, the more forced it looks. Stick to what you know, folks.

wahlberg labeouf2. Idea and Heart Trump Influence and Rank. In every film in this series, the much-maligned rookie or the obvious dork somehow champions the idea that ends up saving the universe and/or gets the girl in the end. Shia LaBeouf? Hero and world saver. John Turturro? Figured it out despite everyone’s doubts. Even the “homely” dad of Mark Wahlberg gives a mighty middle finger to the establishment and makes a BFF of a big rig with a big sword. Agencies are like this — or should be. The interns and account folk should have a voice, and if not, let one be heard anyway. You never know? The client’s answer to the universe could be trapped in their brain not allowed thinking capabilities.

prime wahlberg3. Relationships Do Matter. There is no telling who can become great allies within an agency, or even with the client. The intern and the direct contact might hit it off; the account manager and one person in trade media might become buddies, making pitching slightly easier. Look at the movie — a 20-foot-tall robot and a “nobody.” And they save the world? This is why the entire team matters in PR. I have assisted on many teams with questionable account leads. You build a team for the client’s benefit because you never know where the real connection will be made.

nicola peltz4. Eye Candy Doesn’t Always Help. As is the case with most Michael Bay shoot-em-up flicks, there’s always a babe to bring in the old men. From Megan Fox to Rosie Huntington to Nicola Peltz, Bay will hire the one-dimensional co-star to keep people in their seats for more than two hours. Some make PR directors do this for accounts too: The client gets someone who may not be a match skill-wise, the agency doesn’t put its best foot forward because hormones, and the flack isn’t placed in a position to succeed — just giggle. PR should do better than Michael Bay.

transformers5. Size May Not Matter. These daunting robots who form into the latest models of Chevrolet’s 2015 line, as well as some household appliances, are massive. They are impressive. But they have terrible aim. Many times in each of the movies, they have weapons that can destroy entire neighborhoods, but they can’t hit a 25-foot-tall target two feet in front of them. Not really what you would expect. Many agencies have employees with mile-long resumes who aren’t right for certain accounts. Not everything can be hit by everyone, even if it’s right in front of them. The team requires chemistry before specific skills.

Now who else saw this movie, and what did you take from it?

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