Recently I've been dipping into the wonderful 'Every Frame a Painting' (sidebar: what a great name) series of video essays which looks at the art and craft of filmmaking. I watched this one the other day, focusing on how many modern films play safe with their music scores, and consequently how forgettable many of them are. Off the top of your head, it asks, can you sing the music to Star Wars, or James Bond, or Harry Potter? The answer is of-course, yes. But when asked to sing any theme from a Marvel film for example, most people look at you blankly. Despite being a multi-billion dollar franchise, the video argues that the Cinematic Universe created by Marvel lacks a distinctive musical identity. It then goes on to describe practices like Directors asking composers to imitate 'temp' music (music which is used from another score temporarily to indicate the feel that the Director is after). You can palpably feel the frustration of the composers when they're talking about this practice in this film.
It's an interesting look at a world that I know very little about but as I was watching it I was thinking about the parallels to marketing and how often it must happen that marketers step into the creative process, only to end up diluting what is an amazingly creative idea or treatment because it's, well, a little too 'out-there'. Many of the truly standout campaigns and treatments (Guiness surfer, Skoda cake, Honda cog, Cadbury gorilla to name just a few) seem to have come about from marketers stepping back and allowing creatives the creative freedom to be truly different. This must take a lot of bravery on the part of the CMO (their job is on the line after all), but is also where the gold is found. As the film says, 'people do not remember safe choices'.