We’ve all seen it before: a TV or Film series is generating unprecedented hype, accumulating insane levels of fandom and flawless reviews; surely, they’re too beloved to fail. But then, somewhere along the way, a huge budget goes wrong, and a fan-favorite is tarnished by a humiliating flop.
To understand what’s behind these costly embarrassments, we need to look back at recent history – more specifically, the rise of the nerd.
Sometime in recent years, presumably a few years before the first “Nerds are Sexy” t-shirt hit the market, geeks started being cool.
With the advent of social media came a heightened urge for self-expression, to the point where having a valued opinion became a competition. Of course, in order to have the best opinion on the latest Spider-Man reboot, you have to be the most obsessed, with the ability to trace Spider-Man’s history back to what made it cool in the first place: enter, the nerd.
Of course, whether or not we focus on the nerdy types, this phenomenon gave rise to the “influencer” – the new career goal for seemingly all millennials, and the star customer for leading brands. But more than that, studios and brands began perceiving social hype as this unstoppable wave that they could hop onto and ride until turning it into a tsunami of money.
If the latest addition to the Cloverfield series is any indication, there seems to be a belief that, once fans are on the hook and crazed with excitement, they’ll throw their eyeballs and money at anything. But, take a look at reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, you’ll see another story.
What studios and brands are liable to forget is that these waves of masses are led by the few, the loud, and the critical. Those ‘few’ consist of our nerds, our influencers, and we have to remember that obsession doesn’t come easily.
The truth of the matter is, as wild and baseless as fandom can look from the outside, the geek’s obsession comes from years of consumption and analysis. Their passion runs deep, intertwined with the complexities of every character trait, backstory, and easter egg. So, when they come to see a new title, they expect to be taken even deeper, not shot back up to the surface with a gross misinterpretation.
The other thing for brands and studios to bear in mind is that “loud and critical” element of the influencer’s character, which will only magnify the blow-back when creators get it wrong.
The nature of hardcore fans is something that we at Insight Editions have had to keep in mind since our inception over 15 years ago. By committing to the creation of immersive products and deepening fans’ connections with their favorite worlds, we’ve been able to attract not only more customers, but some of the most iconic visionaries on the planet.
Our experience shows that this dedication to fans and creators sparks a self-perpetuating cycle. When our teams are full of fans themselves, and they have the blessed opportunity to team up with the likes of James Cameron and Guillermo del Toro, we breathe passion and heart into our work, which ultimately reflects and amplifies everything that our customers care about.
Of course, we can’t be perfect with every release, so anytime we see a weak consumer response, our first reaction is to question whether we’ve taken fandom for granted in some way. Conversely, we always know that our greatest successes will come when our innovation centers around the customer’s deep-seated connection with a particular artist or story.
This commitment to fans and creators has driven over 15 years of steady growth for Insight Editions, and the formation of strong relationships with our favorite artists, creators, and studios. As we embark on the next phase of our journey and begin producing items beyond books — such as candles, seasonal gifts, and exclusive digital content — we will always strive to keep fans at the core of our offerings.
We strongly believe that this approach is key to our continued growth and success, so if you have an opinion — or perhaps are interested in learning how to partner with us — we’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective.