Quotables from Kevin Spacey’s Keynote at Content Marketing World

Any time tech moves forward, there is that question about how things are not going to be the same anymore. That's always been the case. Very often the best experiences were with studios and movies that did not have any money.

When I live tweet at events, I typically paraphrase to allow for space limitations by translating big concepts into many bite-size, as self-contained as possible posts.

This post captures some of the key themes Kevin Spacey touched upon during the closing keynote speaker at Content Marketing World 2014.

On audience

The audience doesn't care about the platform, they care about the content.

The ones who thrive during these periods of chaos are the ones who pay attention to what audiences want. Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in, for a reasonable price, they will buy it.

I don't believe in Nielsen at all. When we can actually know what people are watching, that will change ad rates dramatically, get us amounts that make sense.

It's no longer about connecting with people, it's more than that. It's engaging with people one on one.

What is that makes something feel genuinely authentic to an audience?

On content

You are only as good as the material you have.

Smart marketers should not fall prey to fixate on keywords and quick hits, they focus on brand.

From beauty products to car companies, brands tap into our desires to be better version of ourselves. This tension make come from the pressure we put in ourselves, or tthose put on us by our communities shape our choices.

What made the most memorable marketing campaigns work? They are true to what they are (e.g., Beetle embracing small). 

Good content making has always been about "the story."

On storytelling

The story is everything, which means that it is out jobs to tell better stories. So what goes into a good story?

What story do you want to tell? Everything follows from that — begin simply, then build the blocks.

The first characteristic of good stories is conflict. Conflict creates tension and keeps people engaged; the best stories are filled with characters who take risks. It's the decisions that characters make in the face of challenges that make these compelling stories.

For example, in LA Confidential when the detective discovers more serious corruption in its department, it's what he DOES with the information that makes the story interesting.

The second characteristic of good stories is authenticity.

There's never been a moment like now for content creation. Audiences want stories… it's the risk takers that are rewarded.

As storytellers, we are nothing without our audiences. So we must strive to develop stories that deliver.

A personal story to illustrate:

After a string of successful movies e.g., Usual Suspects, LA Confidential, American Beauty, he was thinking what to do next. At the time, he was working on the Iceman Cometh and was asked to be artistic director at the Old Vic.

Through some reserch, he learned that the Old Vic theater was at its best when actors were running it like Lawrence Olivier. That night in London he found himself not sleeping and got out to walk around the city.

Suddenly he was standing in the rain and thinking about the Old Vic theater in the rain, it became clear he should do it, he should become the new creative director.

Now the Old Vic / New Voices is being returned to a destination for audiences — one of the most fulfilling periods of my life.

The experience underscores a lesson for storytellers: stories become more interesting when they go against the grain.

With enough time to develop the characters, the "House of Cards" story had time to breathe and develop.

Amazon just spent > $1b for Twitch#, a site that watches great gamers play — it's a new dynamic frontier for storytelling.

On creativity / making do

In the movie On the Water Front, there is a classic scene where Marlon Brando was in the cab with blinds at the back of the cab. The scene became one of the most intimate in the movie: they had to creatively solve for not having street footage on hand.

It's no longer about who you know, or what you can afford, but what you can DO.

We live in this wonderful age whereby anyone with Internet and and idea can develop something with storytelling. The Internet democratization is giving people opportunity. Hollywood is tapping into a new breed of talent to market its product.

The networks wanted to see a pilot, and Netflix was the only company that did not want a pilot of "House of Cards." We were not forced to compromise or to water the "House of Cards" story down — Netflix embraced targeted marketing.

The third golden age of TV comes from creatives having more control over the story than everyone else (e.g, studios). "I see network people" (a 6th sense impression)

On binge-watching

People have consumed entertainment since the Guthenberg press. The new part is how we deliver content, and the most exciting part is we are giving people the choice on when to watch seasons.

Things are shifting and appointment viewing is closer than we think.

On issues to take on

If you haven't seen any episode of "House of Cards," you are effing late to the party.

House of Cards, as many of you know, is a series about manipulative politicians.

I have such irritation with a Congress that just doesn't move. We need to get sh*t done.


[I captured this short video with my iPhone 4]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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