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What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Poisoning the Well
By: Elaine Reed
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In case you haven’t heard, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is out in 3-D this week. In fact, the first screenings have already aired as you read this. I'll be following movie news over the next few weeks to see how it performs — not because I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but because all of the big fans I know say they are not going to see the The Phantom Menace in 3D.

What made their statements especially notable to me is that just about all of them said they would pay to see all six of the movies on the big screen again, but in the original formats. When I asked if they were turned off by the 3D edition because the tickets are expensive or if they feared the quality of the 3D they all said no. They liked the movies as they were when they were originally released. In fact, a few of them even referenced a South Park episode called “Free Hat” where the boys protest changes to the original trilogy, from back in 2002.

This is a notable sentiment on many levels. How many times have you worked on a project and had to remove some elements that were really great, but simply didn’t jive with the overall theme or goal? This is the same concept. Movies, books, music, and marketing campaigns that are truly great are because they struck the right balance. They don’t have too many elements, nor do they demand a lot from their users.

Now think about your most successful campaigns. After the campaign ran did you go back and add new things to it and re-run it as it was plus the “enhancements”? Of course not. You wouldn’t be able to replicate the success of the original campaign by doing that. Instead, you took what you learned from that campaign and applied it to something completely new. That is the way it should be done.

You should return to the well often for ideas and inspiration and even a refresher on what you learned from those older campaigns. But rather than trying to “enhance” older campaigns with new technology, apply what you learned from those gems to something completely new. Because like it or not, George Lucas is teaching us an important lesson: rather than giving us more to love in an already beloved series, he’s wearing us out.

During all of the conversations I had about The Phantom Menace and whether it was really Jar Jar Binks keeping us away, or something else entirely, I had a bit of a Zen moment: upon its release, each Star Wars movie broke new ground with special effects. The new enhancements aren’t worthy of films that were already ahead of their time.

Use that logic if you ever find yourself tempted to dress up an older campaign. So-called enhancements on already great work dim its brilliance. Let yet your gems continue to sparkle.

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About the Author
Elaine Reed is a marketing professional with heavy emphasis on e-commerce and Internet marketing. She blogs regularly on her website and tweets often.
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