I was invited to attend a screening of the forthcoming film The Internship, which is set almost entirely on the Google campus (though it was mostly filmed at Georgia Tech). In the film’s third act, near the climax, stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson and their younger intern teammates are tasked with selling a local business Google advertising.
For anyone involved with SMBs and local online advertising it’s an absolutely incredible scene and almost worth seeing the movie for alone. I couldn’t believe it. (The movie gets a “B” rating from me, some scenes are quite funny.)
As I said in my article over at Marketing Land, the scene could be cut out and stand alone as a piece of “sales collateral” for Google AdWords or AdWords Express.
The business is a local pizza restaurant that is “getting killed by the big chains” though it has a great product. The owner is initially put off by overly mechanistic presentation made by the younger Google interns who don’t relate to the older man.
Vince Vaughn, a former watch salesman, comes in and talks to the owner in his own language. He’s able to establish a rapport with the owner who says that he doesn’t want to do anything differently. Among other places the restaurant owner says he advertises in the yellow pages.
In a moment of insight that we recognize as character growth, Vince Vaughn describes his own prior fear of change to the restaurant owner. We know that Vaughn has changed for good and overcome his limitations. We also know he’s won the sale and that the restaurant owner will similarly embrace change and go ahead with Google advertising.
As Vaughn is telling his story to the restaurant owner his younger intern teammates are in the background showing off Google Maps, Google Insights for Search and Google local search results. Again it was totally amazing to me; I wish I had the script to reproduce the dialogue verbatim here.
In addition to serving the plot, the scene also unintentionally illustrates many truths about SMBs and online advertising:
- Digital advertising is mysterious and too complex to expect SMBs to self provision
- Business owners just want to run their business and don’t want to become online marketing experts
- The inertia of “this is the way we’ve always done it” is incredibly powerful
- A human sales rep, who understands and can make a personal, emotional connection with business owners, is going to be a lot more successful in closing than “geeks who make rational arguments” over the phone
The movie is entertaining and fun for the most part. But go see it for this sequence and let me know what you think. I suspect you’ll similarly be amused and amazed.