What David Bowie & The Labyrinth Can Teach Us About Branded & Corporate Video

What David Bowie & The Labyrinth Can Teach Us About Branded & Corporate Video


It’s a cult classic and most would agree the pinnacle of Jim Henson’s movie-making career, the story of an angsty teenage girl Sarah who must solve a fantastical labyrinth to rescue her kidnapped baby brother. Child-stealer and codpiece or not, David Bowie was my very first crush, as a girl I was mesmerized as he danced and sang and strutted about with his goblin minions in tow. What can the Goblin King teach us about Branded and Corporate Video? Dare to enter the Labyrinth to find out (ahem, read on!)...



“Which Way Do You Want To Go?”


The Movie Moment:

In the movie the Helping Hands catch Sarah mid-fall. The Hands give her the choice, one of many she must make to outwit the maize and get to the center before midnight; “Which way do you want to go, up or down?” Knowing only that she doesn’t want to retread her steps, in a brave leap of faith Sarah chooses down.  

The Lesson:

Make a clear, brave decision in the direction you want your business and, by extension, your marketing campaign to go. The biggest mistake business’ make when they produce video content is to play it safe. It’s usually a fear of failure or fear of offending potential customers that makes them err towards safe and ultimately boring creative direction. Time and time again we see that it is the campaigns that dare to push boundaries and try something new and fresh that are rewarded with success. This is because the internet is saturated with companies who make products or offer services very similar to your own. If you follow the crowd and do the predictable thing, you’ll only get lost in it. The only way to be seen is to emphasize your specific story. To know what makes your brand special (your USP in marketing speak), and to capitalize on this essence in a daring, heartfelt and humorous way. Be brave, take the less likely path, reap the rewards.




“It's a crystal. Nothing more. But if you turn it this way and look into it, it will show you your dreams. But this is not a gift for an ordinary girl who takes care of a screaming baby.”


The Movie Moment:

Jareth (fetching in stockings I might add) offers Sarah a gift of a beautiful crystal ball, sure taking it comes with some caveats (ie: forget about saving baby bro) but it’s beauty is bewitching and Sarah is an avid collector of pretty things.

The Lesson:

Know your audience. As much as we believe a branded or corporate video should be born from the heart of your business, it’s equally important to always keep in mind who we are speaking to. Your version of the crystal ball (your product or service) must be spun in such a way that it meets the needs of your potential customers. Successful videos are focused on the emotional needs of the audience, not just the practical application. Sarah is the right audience for Jareth’s sales pitch as she likes pretty things, but she might not “need” a crystal ball. Jareth overcomes this potential sales block by positioning the ball as something that is owned by a specific type of unordinary girl, knowing that is is Sarah’s deepest fear - to be an ordinary teenage babysitter. What is the emotional need of your customers and how can they be met with your product or service?



“You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us... forever.”


The Movie Moment:

Jareth uses what looks like a rip-off of the Star Wars’ trick (The Force) to spin the hands of a magical clock until he reaches 13 (not the standard 12 you might have astutely noted). He sets the clock literally to demonstrate that this quest comes with a deadline. Sarah must hurry to save Toby, no dawdling allowed!

The Lesson:

The ticking clock. It’s a classic screenplay trick to up the intensity and raise the stakes of any storyline, and it applies directly to marketing too. Nothing motivates like a deadline for making a decision to buy. It creates a sense of competition between members of your audience, and instigates the “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) gene in all of us. Creating a video campaign with a ticking clock may look like an exclusive or time-sensitive offer, or it might be less literal and speak to the urgency for the customer to meet the outstanding emotional need that your product or service fulfills. It might be that the fitness program you produce is half price for a limited number of fast-acting customers, or a gentle reminder that summer and swimwear season is mere months away. Regardless having a message that is ‘of the moment’, with incentives relevant to the season, events, even the socio-economic climate, can help make your company feel current and your products feel like the perfect fit for right now.



We hoped you enjoyed reminiscing about one of our favorite classic movies and learning a little about Branded and Corporate video at the same time. If you’d like some help telling your business’ story, utilizing these proven approaches and all the others we have hiding up our sleeves, then send us a note using the form below. We’d love to chat!



Front Runner Films
Los Angeles / Boise: (208) 336-6594