I, like much of the world, fell in love with the Minions in the Despicable Me movies, and my adoration for them has compounded. I have Minion plush, a Minion phone case, and I was even a Minion for Halloween (see picture below). My anticipation is at an all-time high to see the Minions movie, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to write about the genius behind this cute concept. Here are some lessons that marketers can gleam from these adorable yellow dudes:

Make messages easy to understand

According to a Radiotimes interview with the directors of the Minions movie, the Minion language has injections of languages from all over the world My minion halloween costumein addition to, onomatopoeia (words that sound like what they mean), and syllables that just sound silly together. In the new movie, they dive even deeper into establishing this Minion language:

"We sort of established that these guys have been around, like, forever, serving masters all over the world and it gave us some sort of license to pick words here and there … Funny words, like in the Japanese language, and the Korean language, Chinese, Italian—and mix everything up to make this very special language that they have," they said.

By drawing on different languages, sounds and animated characters, the audience knows what the Minions are feeling, what their intentions are, and this makes the characters easily understood across ages and cultures. What can marketers learn from this? Create concepts that are easy to understand and communicate. Campaigns and content should be crafted so that the intended emotion and message is clearly conveyed to the audience.

Tap into human emotion

From the P&G Thank You Mom campaign to Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, historically successful campaigns tap into human emotion that their brand’s target audiences can relate to. The Minions do the same, expressing human emotions of joy, exasperation, fear, and of course, silliness. The Minions identify the human emotion that they can present in every situation that plays out in the movie, and zone in on simple iterations. This is demonstrated when we first meet the Minions in Despicable Me. In this short sequence, we see the Minion characters demonstrate various human emotions and situations that the audience can relate to and find humor in:

For marketers, the takeaway is to build campaigns and concepts around human emotions that your audience can identify with. How can you construct content that matches up with situations, emotions and stories your audience encounters or has encountered?

Use a formula that you can replicate and build upon

The formula for creating a Minion character is pretty simple:

  • Yellow body
  • Blue Overalls with the Gru logo
  • Goggles
  • Black shoes
  • Black gloves

However, variations on these elements can assemble lots of Minions that are similar, but still unique. Some Minions have longer bodies, one or two eyes on their goggles, and different amount of hairs on their head. This enables the creators to produce great versions of these characters on a massive scale.

I see this as a lesson for marketers on constructing well-thought content. If you have a great idea for a blog post, social content or other channel communication, devise ways of spreading that value across multiple touch points without compromising the quality of the formula you have created. A great concept can be morphed into blog, infographic, white paper, podcast, and social graphic content that is still appealing in different iterations across different channels. By offering different points of value as you build a quality idea into various channels, you can offer more value with less time spent in production and ideation. 

Find opportunities to apply concepts to different channels (and brands)

The Minions offer characters that are easy for people and companies to adapt to their brand. For instance, Amazon has created Minion boxes with that recognizable yellow shade and a call-to-action to share a #MinionBoxes picture for the chance to win an Amazon Gift Card.

Minion amazon boxes

For, Despicable Me 2, Twinkies jumped on the Minion brand wagon, altering their packaging to match the characters.  

Minion twinkies

Recognizing the Minion love for bananas, Chiquita developed a micro site (https://www.Minionslovebananas.com) where users can play Minion games that incorporate Chiquita bananas to win prizes.  

minion chiquita micro site

Marketers, if you have a great concept, brainstorm potential brand partnerships and cross-channel promotion opportunities. Look among your existing allies and see if there any connections, events, people that your concept or brand can tie into. Leveraging a strong brand partnership or cross-channel opportunity can help expand the reach of your messaging and tap into audience members that are in spaces you have not yet reached.

The creative process behind the Minions can be applied to any industry you market to and for. Strive to:

  1. Make messages easy to understand

  2. Tap into human emotion

  3. Use a formula that you can replicate and build upon

  4. Find opportunities to apply concepts to different channels (and brands)

I wish you the best of luck in your “Minion marketing.” Subscribe to the emfluence emsights newsletter to get blog posts sent right to your inbox.




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