Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

Now everybody knows this about me, but I love going to the movie theater. I was really sad during COVID when you couldn’t go to the movie theater. I totally understand why, but it is one of my favorite things to do for a date night. Even when I was single, I would go to the movie theater by myself, highly recommend it. You can go to whatever movie you want at whatever time you want. And if you go to this special movie theater, you can even order any food that you want and nobody will judge you. 

But anyway, today, what I want to talk about is StoryBrand and movies. You guys, by now know that I’m a certified guide. I’ve been certified in the framework for four years. And I remember during my very first training with Donald Miller, he sat us down and said, I’m about to explain the StoryBrand framework to you. And I just want you to know that I’m going to ruin movies forever. You’re always going to think about StoryBrand when you think about movies. 

And he’s not wrong, but in my life, I guess, I like movies enough that they’re not ruined. I enjoy trying to figure out, who is the hero? Who is the guide? Does this follow exactly the StoryBrand framework or are there some nuances?

So the StoryBrand framework is actually built off of screenplay writings. Like that’s how it’s originated. And so you can actually see it in a lot of stories and movies, especially. And so we’ll talk through some of the common examples, but before I do that, I would just want to do a quick recap on the StoryBrand framework itself.

Here’s the thing, this is a quick recap, like a one minute synopsis. So if you want to learn more about the StoryBrand framework, I would recommend that you either pick up a Business Made Simple subscription and watch it on there or that you attend one of the live streams. We have affiliate links for both, and I’m happy to walk you through any of them.

But as a quick recap, there are seven pieces to the StoryBrand framework. You have the hero who has a problem. That hero who has a problem then meets a guide. The guide gives him a plan, him or her a plan and then calls them to action so that they can avoid failure and reach success. And so it’s cool is that when you take the StoryBrand framework and look at movies, you can start identifying those seven pieces in different movies.

And so some of the common ones that we talked about around StoryBrand are The Hunger Games. Katniss is the hero who has Haymitch as the guide. One of the really, really popular ones, especially among millennials, is Harry Potter. Our good friend, Harry Potter. He has a problem. He has to defeat Voldemort and he doesn’t know how to do it and Dumbledore is his guide. And obviously each movie has its own smaller problem, but the overarching one is defeating Voldemort. Dumbledore is his guide and the success is that, spoiler alert, he does, in fact, defeat Voldemort. And so that is like kind of the overarching story of the all seven books, eight movies, I believe.

Anyway, we also have Frodo and Gandalf. Frodo is this hero. What’s interesting is a lot of heroes are actually like the weakest person in this story. And the guide is actually the most powerful sometimes. But what’s interesting is the guide, this is one of my favorite things about the guide, is that the guide is actually humble enough to not revel in it’s in his or her power, but they’re carrying or guiding the hero and empowering them to save it.

And so Frodo saves his world from evil. We also have classic Star Wars. I mean, honestly, probably every movie has its own hero and its own guide in its own way. And you can honestly have different heroes and different guides. At one point, Yoda is the guide for Luke. At another another point, Obi-Wan Kenobi is, and in the end, each of the Star Wars episodes has a different success ending. But in the end, Luke saves the world until he doesn’t and then that’s how we get another movie. 

But anyway, another one and I haven’t watched this one, I’ll be honest, don’t judge me, but in a Karate Kid, we’ve got Daniel and we’ve got Mr. Miyagi. Daniel moves, he doesn’t have friends. He’s got this rough life, is what I’ve heard. And he meets Mr. Miyagi, Mr. Miyagi teaches him karate and they experience success. What’s interesting is the person who was telling me about this movie, and now I’ll have to watch it, is the fact that they almost need each other. So in a way, they become heroes of their own stories, but also they guide each other. So it’s this very paired relationship.

In the new Spider-Man movies, Spider-Man, Peter Parker, he is the hero he saves the day, but Tony Stark is the one who is guiding him. And the success is he becomes an Avenger.

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My favorite, I wrote a whole blog about this, is Aladdin. Aladdin is the hero. The genie is the guide. Aladdin gets the girl and defeats Jafar with the Genie, or at least with the Genie’s guidance because ultimately Aladdin has to make his own decision and do it, et cetera, et cetera.

But anyway, so those are some examples and I’m going to walk you through one that I haven’t figured out totally yet. And I’d be curious, you might listen to some of these and say “No, Julia’s got it wrong. This person is the guide and this person is the hero,” especially for those movies that I actually haven’t watched. You probably know better than I do. However, it’s not always cut and dry. It’s not always an easy answer and you’ll see it in this next movie. 

Again, I am a Disney fan, so we’re going to go where we’re going to go, we are going to Encanto. If you have watched it, you probably have all of the songs stuck in your head, especially “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” If you haven’t watched it, you may also already know the songs because they’ve been everywhere. And so I want to walk you through this one because it’s one that I love, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about, and so I’m hoping that by talking it out, maybe you have some other ideas that I haven’t thought about, but I actually think Mirabelle has both hero and guide status in this movie.

And so that’s where like, while in the StoryBrand framework, if we apply it to your business, there’s usually like, you’re the guide, it’s always pretty much like your business, your organization is the guide, your customer’s the hero. And that’s where you land. Movies are not always cut and dry. Obviously, there’s tons of different screenwriting possibilities and the StoryBrand framework has distilled those screenwriting possibilities into one seven-piece framework. But we can still see some of those elements in a lot of the other movies, too. 

So bear with me. I’m going to try to tell you where I’m coming from and Mirabelle being the hero and the guide. So the premise of the movie is that they live in this magical house and that the house starts losing its magic and Mirabelle is the first and possibly, for a while, the only person who notices. And so she starts realizing that she needs to save the house, the casita. And so she goes on this journey. And this is the part where I have a little bit of a harder time identifying who the guide is. She almost has these guiding moments throughout. She gets a piece of glass that fits together that shows her a vision, which then leads her with the rats to go into the walls of the house to find her uncle Bruno. 

If you haven’t watched this movie, you’re probably thinking, oh my gosh, this is the weirdest movie I’ve ever heard of. If you have, you know where I’m going though. And so it’s almost like these, like the vision was part of her guiding experience. The rats guided her. Bruno guides her. Then the vision, again, guides her to lead, and it calls her to action of how to create healing for this house and her family. I’m going to leave it at that. I’m not going to tell you anymore so that you have to watch it. Yeah. You can see how it happens. So that’s where I see her being the hero. She saves the house and saves her family and saves magic. 

But I also see her as the guide because an undercurrent of this is that part of the reason that the house is losing magic is because the family is becoming fractured. And because they are not living into their authentic selves, so they’re doing what they feel like they’re supposed to be doing rather than the things that they want to be doing. And there’s like another undercurrent of them having flaws, but hiding them, things like that. So just this journey into authenticity. And so Mirabelle, by taking this hero’s journey of healing the house, healing her family, rescuing magic, she also takes her family and leads her family to be their successful, authentic self.

So you see her do it with her sisters. In a way, you see her do it with Bruno, who is also her guide. So it’s kind of flipped. You see her do it with her grandma. And so that’s the thing is I don’t feel like it’s just like, oh, Harry follows Dumbledore and then defeats Voldemort. Obviously, that’s a very simplified view, but a lot of these are just 1, 2, 3, hero-guide success formulas. But I can see Mirabelle being both the guide and the hero. 

So that’s kind of my conclusion, like the more that I think about it. But that being said, I’m totally open to having other ideas. I realized there’s no good way, I wish this was like a two-way conversation where we could have a conversation about it. And you could say, but have you thought about this? And I could say yes, but what about this? We can’t do that obviously. So make sure you jump over to Instagram and tell me what you think. But that’s kind of where I land on Encanto. 

I am always curious to hear from you, if you disagree or agree or have a different thought, maybe also correct some of my other interpretations of movies and I’m totally open to that as well. Especially the Karate Kid one, because I haven’t watched it, true confessions, but I’d be curious and I would challenge you to also approach this. Approach your movies, as much as you want, really, you don’t have to, you don’t have to be a nerd like me. But I would think about your movies, the movies that you watch. Start deciphering who’s the hero, who’s the guide, partially because it’s going to give you practice within, while you’re watching other people’s marketing and while you’re watching your own marketing. I consistently look at our own marketing and say, are we being the guide? Are we showing people the problem and the success that they can experience?

I think that’s the most important part. And by exercising this interpretation muscle with movies, we’ll become better and better at exercising it as we analyze marketing in the wild.