The power of the reboot: Could remakes be better than originals?

Hollywood seems to be all about the reboot recently. From Disney creating live action versions of its classic animations to the most recent blockbuster Star Trek movies, the reboot is in fashion right now.

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[Image credit: Disney]

Everyone loves a good story, even if they’ve seen it before, which is why there is so much hype regarding many of the reboots to hit the cinema in recent years. Just this month, we’ve got Kong: Skull Island, Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers hitting the big screen, with each of the films creating a lot of chatter even before their release dates.

But why are reboots so powerful and could they be an option when it comes to marketing campaigns?

Arguably, the power behind the reboot and remake lies in the recognisable story and name. People are excited for a live action version of Beauty and the Beast not just because the Cinderella one was so great, but because the original animation is still such a huge part of popular culture and has the nostalgia element working for it.

This means that Disney is guaranteed an absolute hit – it broke the UK box office record this weekend with the highest-grossing opening for a PG film – however, it also means there is a lot of pressure to get it right.

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[Image credit: Disney]

If Disney mess with the story too much, change the characters and don’t represent the magic of the original, fans will be up in arms and incredibly vocal about it – much like recent feedback following the announcement that the live action version of Mulan won’t have the original songs.

However, the film giant also can’t create an exact copy of the original as people have seen it before. No one wants to watch a film that is, scene for scene, just like the animated version, even if it is so popular still.

The story needs to be fresh, new and exciting but still retain its original essence. Something that is harder said than done, as so many failed attempts at reboots can tell you – I’m looking at you Robocop.

Not sticking to the story that is so well-known and loved means that Disney will risk alienating existing fans, whereas not making it fresh and exciting could result in failing to reach a broader audience. Luckily for Disney, it has a very loyal fan base ranging from young children to adults, so it’s unlikely that it will manage to annoy enough people to really make an impact on the movie and its profits.

But can the same be said for your marketing strategy if you choose to reboot a campaign rather than create a new one?

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[Image credit: Coca-Cola]

You might have a campaign that proved particularly successful and resonated well with your audience, getting great engagement and – arguably more important – fantastic conversion. We all know that not every campaign is guaranteed to hit all your targets, so when one does, there is a tendency to want to emulate it or dress it up as something new in an attempt to replicate your results. While this might work in the Hollywood world of movies, marketing is arguably more fickle.

Creating marketing content, whether it’s written, video or image-led, that is too close to that used in a previous campaign may not have people lining up to engage with your brand like a reboot of a beloved movie. With marketing moving so quickly and constant new innovations becoming a part of it, your strategies need to be reactive and offer something else even if the foundation is something previously used.

That being said, some campaigns deserve to be revisited and work just as well when they are rebooted – no one seems to complain about the return of the Diet Coke man, after all. The key in these instances is to give them something new alongside the aspect of the campaign they’ll recognise.

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Great examples of this are our recent Anatomy of Content Marketing and Gender in Marketing campaigns. Both of these were previously released featuring research that was correct at the time of publishing. However, as digital marketing changes and gender roles in the industry continue to evolve, our original campaigns didn’t stand the test of time.

With the subjects still being hugely relevant, it made sense to revisit them, do more research and reboot both campaigns in order to keep up with the sector. This means that an infographic became a parallax scroll, while the interesting gender survey revealed new findings and allowed us to assess how things have changed.
What made these marketing reboots work is that they built on what was already created to engage the previous audience, but also offered something new and innovative to broaden that audience, which is exactly what Hollywood has been doing with its remakes.

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[Image credit: Disney]

This isn’t to say that original campaigns aren’t also a good option, as fresh and new ideas that are innovative, well thought out and based on research of your target audience will still engage and lead to conversions.

As there are no sure things in marketing, it’s difficult to say which option offers the greatest risk and which the biggest reward. If you ensure that every campaign is as strong as it possibly can be, making use of all the recent trends and technology to come into play, there is no reason either should fail.

But if Hollywood has taught us anything with its recent influx of rebooted movies, if you pick the right one and update it in a way that is relevant while still retaining its original charm and essence, originality isn’t always the best option. Sometimes a live action version works just as well as an animated classic, especially if it has some catchy tunes.

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