The Hunger Games: Lessons for Winning in the Marketing Arena

I saw The Hunger Games last week, and while I also read all three books (and of course, liked them better), the movie did trigger a realization – the keys to success for tributes in the arena are the same for brands.

  1. Get People to Like You: This is Haymitch’s advice to his mentees on how to survive the games.  And, in its simplest form, this is Public Relations – getting consumers to like you and building relationships, or better yet, our brands.
  2. Give Them a Good Story: The storyline of Katniss and Peeta as star-crossed lovers wins the hearts of viewers. When it comes to selling an idea, brand or product, storytelling is key.
  3. Develop a Strong Brand Identity: From the moment she appeared in her flame costume to scoring an 11 in her private session with the Game Makers, Katniss was developing and strong and unique brand identity as “The Girl on Fire.” When considering a campaign, marketers should ask themselves “is this something another brand could do or is it unique to our identity?”
  4. Run Away from the Cornucopia: Haymitch tells Katniss to run away from the cornucopia and into the woods, even if she sees a bow. Why? Only the strongest, richest tribute can survive the cornucopia blood bath. This is not dissimilar to crowded media opportunities like Earth Day or Black Friday where very few brands will be able to have an impact.
  5. Beware of the Government: While Katniss and Peeta win the games; they have a dangerous road ahead since the government finds them a threat to “keeping the peace.” Brands need to be aware of policy makers’ agendas and how their messages will be received given the public affairs environment on related issues.

What did you think of The Hunger Games? Do you see any lessons for marketers? Would love to hear your thoughts. Meanwhile, “Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!”

Lauren Sugarman is an SVP, Strategic & Creative Planner who works with Ketchum client across categories including food, retail and CPG. She’s also a children’s book author, mom or three and Bravo-holic.