There has been on again off again buzz about Pixar going into production for Toy Story 4. The latest is that the rumors are just that...rumors. However, it's bound to happen sooner or later. The Toy Story franchise is pure gold. It's gold largely because it is based on marketing genius. Toy Story is not the first movie, book, film TV show or consumer product to detail a relationship between a child and his trusted toys. The relationship between Christopher Robin and the Winnie the Pooh Gang is precious. The model works. Selling a toy as a toy is simple genius.
For me however, Toy Story takes product placement and branding to impressive emotional heights. The character development of the toys in Toy Story is so real that when I saw a discarded Buzz Light Year on the shelf of a Goodwill in my hometown (Columbus, Ga.), my heart sank.
I am a 40-year old single woman without children. I do not own a toy. I have not owned a “toy proper” in two and a half decades.
When I saw this discarded Buzz, I immediately thought of Andy and Woody. I know. I know. Buzz Light Year is a trooper. I mean he’s a fighter, a survivor. Right? But among the dusty and dingy toys Buzz’s spirit seemed broken. I know. I know. It’s a bit nutty that a grown childless woman would react this way to a toy. But I had the lump in my throat nonetheless.
I continued my Goodwill hunting, but I couldn’t let go of the image of Buzz. So, I decided to buy him. My mom chuckled at the purchase.
What makes this story even more bizarre and I’ll admit slightly pathetic is that when I got back to my home in northern Virginia, I noticed that under Buzz’s foot was written the name “Chris” in a childlike handwriting.
My heart sank again as I imagined Chris devastated over losing one of his prized possessions. I imagined Woody and a gang of toys navigating trains, planes and automobiles to make their way from Columbus, Ga. to Alexandria, Va. Could the gang be fighting unbelievable odds to return Buzz to Chris?
I know! I know! This is pure Insanity on my part. But it is pure genius from Pixar.
This emotional connection that compelled me to purchase a discarded toy, made me ask, "how can strong emotional branding be used in other customer retention efforts?"
SOUND OFF…How are you using a strong emotional brand to your product or service to encourage your customers to support you to infinity and beyond?