In the following post, we will analyze why Christopher Nolan’s Inception is a 148-minute marketing manual. But first of all, let’s take a moment to frame the topic.


What the movie Inception is about

Inception is a 2010 thriller film with a sci-fi core written and directed by Christopher Nolan in which the protagonist, an expert in extracting secrets from the mind from the depths of people’s subconscious while they sleep, is engaged in one final challenge: to try the reverse process. Therefore, do not extract an idea, but implant an idea. The film was the winner of numerous international awards and is considered among the best films of the last 20 years. Among the curiosities, in order not to spoil the film too much for anyone who has not seen it, we can report that Nolan has stated in several interviews that the idea of structuring the architectures of dreams is taken from the works of Maurits Cornelis Escher and that for the definition of the plot he feels a debt towards Jorge Luis Borges.


But why does Inception talk about marketing?

As anticipated, the film tells of the process of implanting an idea. Isn’t this perhaps the highest aspiration of those involved in marketing? In the literature there are many definitions of the word marketing and its role within companies but, remaining among the more formal definitions, the AMA, American Marketing Association, in 2017 defined marketing as Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. In Vehnta, on the other hand, we prefer the definition of Russell Stuart Winer, NYU Stern, the business school of New York University, which defines marketing as the set of activities that aim to influence a consumer choice. And what is deeper than an influence like that of an implanted idea. However, it is not so easy to implant an idea.


Implant an idea: a marketing Inception

Starting from the plot of the film, it is, therefore, possible to map a path to implant an idea: always making sure not to spoil the film too much! There are 4 steps, four explanations, which we invite you to read.


Explanation 1: An idea must be one’s own

To give birth to an idea in a person, making sure that he recognizes it as his own and does not perceive it as interference from the outside and therefore rejects it, it is necessary to work in-depth following an ordered process capable of involving the conscious part and the unconscious part.


Explanation 2: We start from an emotion

By developing correlations between his unconscious and his conscious part, a certain emotion will have to be used as a trigger to plant an idea and wait for the idea to emerge autonomously in the person involved.


Explanation 3: Emotion as a vehicle

An emotion, however, despite being able to speak the language of the unconscious, alone is unable to develop an idea. The emotion must be the vehicle of the idea: it must contain an idea that can then develop within the person. In fact, to ensure that this can begin to develop and grow independently, a combination of elements is required which, acting in concert with the emotion, can give substance, knowledge and details to the idea. These components respond to structure and style names.


Explanation 4: What are structure and style?

To facilitate the visualization by the person, it will therefore be necessary to help the person: help the person to materialize the emotion with habits, experiences, shapes and colours that she or he already knows. This step, as previously mentioned, has structure and style as its main elements. By structure we mean the set of models of behaviour, relationship and aggregation between people, in a personal and business context, which can be traced back to an abstract form. Tracing experiences to an abstract form means unpacking an experience into different simpler modules which, in turn, can be unpacked down to minimal units of actions. These minimal units of actions are the smallest part of a movement or thought known to the person that it is possible and useful to define. It is therefore now a question of reassembling the minimum units of action, reduced to abstract concepts, deriving however from the person’s past experiences, to structure a new emotion which, in its creation, will be facilitated by past experiences that are easily found in the person’s memory. By style, on the other hand, we mean the set of details that can populate and make a structure more concrete. These are elements that characterize this structure, which can act on several levels, to give shape and colour to a structure.


Conclusion: AKA so what?

First point, the first conclusion is that, for those who have not yet done so, to watch the film Inception. For those who have already done it repeat, repeat, repeat. In summary, however, it can be said that the concept of implanting an idea is a concept that, at the same time, is both extraordinary and frightening. What do you think about it?


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