Hot Dog Fingers Just Won an Oscar

I saw Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (EEAAO) in theatres during the summer of 2022. I had heard of it from trusted sources, but with a limited release, the venues in my mid-size Ontario town weren’t playing it 24-7. I managed to find a 9:20 show, on a work night no less, and insisted on going, despite the proximity to my bed time.


It was like nothing I had ever seen. Ever.


I loved it. 


And it just won the Oscar for Best Picture.


What Does the Best Picture Have to Do with Content Marketing? 


Great question. But I’ll answer with another: 


How does a movie with prominently featured hot dog fingers, several extended scenes having only two mute rocks with googly eyes, and a bagel as the central symbol win THE Oscar?


The answer is the *same* thing we say to clients, all the time: a clear voice.


It’s no secret that we love strategy. Before we can even begin to build strong, vibrant content strategies, we have to clarify and articulate a brand’s voice.

What’s your point of view? How does it look, sound, and feel to interact with your brand? How does that voice translate across mediums? If the voice isn’t clear, your storytelling won’t be clear. If the voice isn’t clear, your differentiation won’t be clear. If the voice isn’t clear, the audience will never take the time to know, like, or trust you.


That’s the magic of EEAAO. A clear voice makes an otherwise chaotic movie a masterpiece. When you walk away, you wouldn’t say it was a movie about hot dog fingers, googly-eyed mute rocks, or bagels. You’d say it was about intergenerational trauma, healing, and the immigrant experience. You’d say it was about a family that needed to regroup. You would say it was about finding home when nothing feels certain. And those are all one thing: the story of family.


The writers and directors, known as The Daniels, asked a question: “What would happen if we put my mom in the matrix?” And they answered it all through EEAAO: “She’d find her way home.”


EEAAO has one message told 33 ways — okay, fine 3,333 ways — not 3,333 messages being told in one movie. That’s the clarity. The setting can change, the multiverse can drag you to the edge of coherency, but you still know what’s going on, you can still follow the voice, and you want to.


The Maddening Multiverse of Marvel 


Let’s contrast with another multiverse: Marvel. 


Yes, it’s easy to punch up. That’s not the point here, so I’ll be clear. Some Marvel movies have a clear voice, and those are the most beloved: Black Panther, Iron-Man 3, even Black Widow. You could add the early Ant-Mans and the Guardians of the Galaxy if you so desired. Before you think I’m some kind of film snob, know that I’ve watched all the Marvel movies, several times, and then watched them all again with my growing children. I’m a fan. 


But then you have: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; also released in 2022, also about a multiverse (as the name aptly suggests). 


I cannot tell you what or WHO this movie is about. 


Doctor Strange? Yes. Kind of. 


Wanda, the Scarlet Witch? Yes, but maybe more than it should have been? 


America Chavez? Also, yes. (I forget who she is.)


It isn’t entirely clear how or why they are related, why Wanda is even there, or where we are at the end of the movie, or the function of the multiverse. There was no question being answered. The movie isn’t about one thing, it’s hardly even about a multiverse. The voice isn’t clear, the story isn’t clear, and the output is muddied as a result. 


The Oscar for Best Content Goes To…


…Not Marvel. 


You could posit that Doctor Strange is about three things and that a movie should be able to sustain that level of plot. The real problem isn’t the number of characters 一 there are just as many in EEAAO 一 it’s the lack of clear voice. The lack of cohesion in Doctor Strange leaves the audience not knowing where to look, who to trust, or what to expect next. The same is true in content marketing — without a clear voice, the audience can’t know you and most certainly won’t give you an Oscar for Best Content because they won’t even remember who you are or what you have to offer. A clear voice, coupled with clear strategy, means you can give them holy bagels and hot dog fingers and still walk home with the grand prize. 


Get Award Season Ready 


If you aren’t sure where you land on voice clarity: Are you EEAAO, Doctor Strange, or somewhere in between… then ask. Ask a few colleagues, some customers, your family, vendors, clients, or followers which three words they would use to describe your organization. If they are the same, be sure to start your Oscar campaign! If they are all over the place, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and clarify that voice. 


Sarah Whyte is Bright Light Content’s Copywriter and Brand Strategist. She’s a quick talking, avid reader who delights in noticing big truths in everyday places.

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