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Marketing Lessons from “Saturday Night Fever”

Rarely a day goes by without hearing a song from the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever. That’s pretty astonishing when you consider the film was released in late 1977 — 43 years ago. It was also the first R-rated movie my underage friends and I successfully infiltrated, but that’s another story.

So, why the longevity of this particular soundtrack — and what marketing mojo can be gleaned from its success? Try these three moves on for size:

The right blend of consistency and contradiction. Saturday Night Fever’s storyline was way grittier than its mostly up-tempo music would suggest. And though dominated by the instantly recognizable sound of the Bee Gees, the soundtrack included something for everyone — from the classical riffs of “A Fifth of Beethoven” to the island-flavored “Calypso Breakdown.”

The result was an intriguing broad-based appeal that never veered into the generic. Everybody thought the movie and its soundtrack were designed with them in mind.

Equally strong visual and audio hooks. Audience attention is grabbed in different ways. Some people are visual learners, while others need auditory stimulation or the comfort of a familiar story or relatable setting.

Saturday Night Fever put its somewhat caricature-ish characters in memorable settings like that hard-to-ignore flashing dance floor. And let’s not forget the iconic white suit. Instantly recognizable as a symbol of machismo and power, it even served as the centerpiece of a Glee episode 35 years later.

A story that taps into prospects’ secret desires. Though they might not readily admit it, movie goers wanted to be Tony Manero. Not the ordinary paint store clerk by day, but the superhero stud who came to life when the sun went down — riveting and powerful the minute he hit the dance floor.

Tell us you don’t feel a secret urge to strut whenever you hear the opening bars of “Staying Alive.” Now, imagine what story you might tell about your product or service that makes prospects feel equally engaged and empowered.

Marketing can be considered a bit of a dance. So take a lesson or two from Saturday Night Fever and get ready to boogie with your prospects — take the lead and they’re sure to follow.

Fahoury InkMarketing Lessons from “Saturday Night Fever”
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