“Want a Twinkie, Genghis Khan?” — Ted Logan
“The world is about to get a lot more excellent.”
It is getting to be rather routine to see sequels to popular films from decades past gracing cinema screens.
Nostalgia drives this economy to a degree, but so too does the audience these properties have picked up over the years. Millennials, for example, were just as curious to learn what had become of Luke Skywalker as anyone.
One pair of late-’80s/early-’90s films that have endured in the public imagination, both due to their original fans, and the many they’ve picked up along the way, are 1989’s ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ and its sequel, 1991’s ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.’
Where Mike Judge’s Gen X, suburban metalheads, the immortal ‘Beavis and Butt-Head,’ showed us the pure, mindless, destructive id of adolescence, the San Gabriel Valley boys of the silver screen, Bill and Ted, were ultimately a couple of good kids.
Bill and Ted were slackers, sure, but they were dreamers, and meant no one any harm. The first film to feature the pair, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,’ found them traversing mankind’s history, and ultimately concluding that life’s greatest lesson is to “be excellent to each other.”
Hard to hate on that.
“I wonder whatever became of Bill and Ted?”
Wonder no more! Well, perhaps wonder for a little bit longer, but do so knowing that an answer is coming.
Very recently Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter — Ted and Bill, respectively — popped up on Twitter to announce to the world that ‘Bill and Ted Face the Music’ (or, if you prefer, ‘Bill & Ted 3’) is a go. It will begin shooting this summer with an eye on an August 2020 release
The StatSocial Factor in All of This
Well, we are excellent to you, whether you recognize that fact or not, but we’re involving ourselves here more directly.
As background, or a refresher: StatSocial pulls in and compiles all available data relating to any consumer audience about which you’d care to learn.
In the wake of the ‘Bill &Ted’ announcement, a sizable group of enthusiasts started excitedly talking about it across social media. We immediately set about digging into the stats surrounding these fine people and a very clear picture materialized of who this property’s core audience is.
An instantaneously recognizable segment of the population has stepped forward to proclaim “we want this!”
What StatSocial Knows, and What StatSocial Does
StatSocial’s affinity datasets are culled from the individual profiles of over 500 million social media users. Our analysis considers over 80,000 unique attributes. As a result, we provide an in-depth breakdown of an audience’s interests, affinities, media preferences, hobbies, allegiances, and thanks to our partnership with IBM Watson™ and the integration of their Personality Insights™ service into our reporting, even personality types.
Our reporting reveals things that could not feasibly be learned through hundreds or, truthfully, thousands of surveys and focus groups. StatSocial peers beyond the cultivated and curated identities of social media, and digs into what really makes the various segments of any given audience tick.
We do more than just provide numbers, though, we take what is learned, indeed known, through the statistics and translate that into strategy; such as social media campaigns, influencer partnerships, sponsorship opportunities, brand partnerships, and so on.
Our reporting provides an understanding of a given base of customers that is unrivaled in terms of depth and nuance. StatSocial eliminates guesswork and assumptions from mapping out a marketing plan, or pursuing the most fruitful partnerships and avenues of exposure.
Let’s say for giggles that one was producing a major motion picture. Through our definitive insight into the people most looking forward to that film’s release, StatSocial would be the perfect tool for guiding that producer to the most lucrative product placement opportunities.
In the franchise’s first sequel, 1991’s ‘Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey,’ Ingmar Bergman’s masterful meditation on existentialist dread, 1957’s ‘The Seventh Seal,’ is not merely referenced in passing. An out and out homage — and gleeful deconstruction of the art house perennial — is a major point of the plot.
‘Journey’ cheekily subverts Bergman’s famously poetic sequences of Max Von Sydow’s knight playing chess with Death — based on a wager where victory would find him surviving his inevitable demise from the plague — by having Bill and Ted similarly face off with fate. Instead of chess, however, the pair challenge the Grim Reaper to games of Battleship, Twister, and that vibrating NFL football game.
While not a remotely arcane reference for a cinéaste, it was rather admirable of the filmmakers to yank Bergman’s ponderous meditation on life, death, and the ultimate futility and meaninglessness of both, into the silly-without-apology universe of ‘Bill and Ted.’
More relevant to our point here, however, is that the series of popular board and party games the pair employ to best Death were products placed in the film. And what could be a more positive notion to associate with a brand than the promise that, should the occasion arise, it could help you to thwart Death itself?
We could not state definitively that these were formal product placements, but this does nothing to undermine the point here. This is a universe where such opportunities, entirely germane to the story and the universe in which it takes place, can and will exist.
The Bill & Ted Faithful
The nearly instantaneous excitement surrounding the announcement of this film created an identifiable and considerable audience. This enabled StatSocial to compile a whole bunch of insights about those whose eyes will be focused on the screens showing ‘Bill and Ted 3’ when it emerges. It follows that we also know to what brands and products the brains behind those eyes will be most receptive.
Audience Profiling and Product Placement
Focusing on the brands for which this audience displays the strongest affinities demonstrates — among other things — StatSocial’s uncanny ability to deconstruct an audience of any sort.
Here we’re just looking at brand affinities, but already a strong sense of who these ‘Bill and Ted 3’ early-adopters are is evident. Deeper digging beyond just the brands — a necessary pursuit for truly savvy strategizing — will necessarily show us a more fully fleshed-out picture of this crowd. Still, we’ve learned a fair bit just from seeing where their strongest brand allegiances reside.
As you’ll soon see, while not traditionally what’s thought of when considering “lifestyle brands,” when taken in concert, the below lists do strongly suggest what we’ll call an ethos.
Let Us Begin
For this first group of insights we are using the average American social media audience as our baseline.
A basic demographic rundown is always the best place to start.
These first-comers to “The Return of Bill & Ted”-mania are nearly 78% male. This percentage exceeds the average by comfortably over one-and-a-half-times.
17% of this audience is right in that Gen X sweet-spot where the original ‘Bill and Ted’ flick would have more or less been targeted at them when they were young. This percentage is pretty much precisely in keeping with the American average.
The older Millennial / younger Gen X — neither fish nor fowl, lost generation — of those currently between the ages of 35 and 44 are the most significantly accounted for among these throngs. Accounting for nearly 39% of this audience, their presence here is greater than among the average American audience by 1.68 times.
Going through the general list of top brands with this crowd, some trends very clearly and irrefutably emerge.
The below is taken directly from the list of the most highly indexed brands with this audience. Rather than just run down the list sequentially, we’ll nudge to the forefront the narrative that was abundantly clear to us by breaking the brands out by category (a very small assortment dominating).
It’s obviously not a surprise that this audience would be movie fans, nor is it all that telling that Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ and Disney figure so prominently, as they simply figure prominently — virtually without peer — in contemporary cinema. However, it does seem quite significant that a whopping 43% of this audience are fans of ‘Star Wars.’
Thanks to the StatSocial index score — the number to the right in the above graphic — we need not rely on something merely seeming significant. Here we have it quantified, and in this instance we can see that the ‘Star Wars’ loving portion of this crowd exceeds the occurrence of their kind among the average American social media audience by over 14 ⅗ times.
Comic Book Related
It’s getting to almost be like the joke “Did you know that Paul McCartney had a band before Wings?” But, did you know that Marvel used to publish magazine-type-books with colorful pictures and word bubbles? They called these things comic books, and the kids used to just love ’em to death, they did.
Marvel still publishes those funny books, of course, as does their chief rival, DC Comics. And as reason would dictate — seeing as you either already know or have probably guessed there are other comics publishers — the industry has third and fourth largest publishers as well. Those would be Dark Horse and Image. So, present and accounted for, and all over-indexed to a noteworthy extent.
The proportions of DC and Marvel readers here exceed the baseline to nearly equivalent degrees; 12.37 times for the former and 12.44 times for the latter. It must be noted, however, that in raw numbers, over one-third of this audience reads Marvel Comics, as opposed to the 14% who read DC.
As for the greater narrative here, though, that ties this whole thing together all niftily with a pretty little bow: This audience engages with the products of comics publishers to degrees exceeding and/or rivaling their engagement with any other brands of all descriptions.
Which leads us to…
Video Game and Toy Related
Best known, probably, for their fanatically followed ‘Elder Scrolls’ and ‘Fallout’ game franchises, Maryland based game publisher, Bethesda Softworks, finds admirers among this audience to a degree exceeding the average U.S. audience by five-and-nine-tenths times.
‘World of Warcraft’ publisher, Blizzard Entertainment, finds favor here to a degree exceeding the baseline by three-and-one-fifth times.
Moving the brand discussion away from the fannish and more toward what once would have been designated “the grown-up world” (but the modern grown-up engages with all of the above with scant hesitation and embarrassment) we find ourselves among a veritable potpourri of brands for all occasions.
Is it the non-profit sector you’re seeking? The ACLU finds support here to a degree exceeding the baseline by over seven times. Are you the sort who goes for Broadway, well ‘Hamilton’ finds admirers among this bunch to a degree exceeding the baseline by what’s approaching two-and-two-fifths times.
Fast food, e-commerce, personal care… It’s all there, and virtually none of it can compete for this audience’s attentions — say about them what you will — with movies, video games, or comics.
Surely You Must See the Pattern Here
Given the rapidity with which this audience revealed itself in the wake of Reeves and Winter’s announcement, we can safely surmise that this group is made up of the most hardcore fans of the franchise.
That said, it should then not be entirely surprising that they are individuals of the fannish class.
The above list of influencers will, for those with a keen eye for these things, remove any lingering doubt.
This list is largely a “who’s who” of the sorts of folks who pack out the big rooms at every major comic con, being met by thousands of adoring fans, while the greater world at large remains oblivious (even while engaging with media featuring and/or created by these influencers, most folks have merrily avoided fixation).
Virtually no one better fits the category of “comic con famous” than the top influencer here. While featured in numerous films and TV series over the years, to a certain segment of the population he will always and only be Ash; the square-jawed, one-liner dropping, chainsaw-handed, relentlessly zombie-butt-kicking protagonist of director Sam Raimi’s horror-comedy ‘Evil Dead’ series of films, and the 2015–2018, ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ TV series. Campbell himself is every bit as much a relentless wisecracker as his onscreen alter-ego, and the genre-devoted have been in his corner for over two-decades now.
With 10.49% of this audience in the tank for Mr. Campbell, he finds fans here to a degree exceeding the average American social media audience by 22 ⅕ times.
But Wait, There’s More!
To further demonstrate StatSocial’s usefulness for those in pursuit of worthwhile product placements, we provide these additional examples.
The index scores featured on the below are the result of contrasting our insights with the reporting of a major retail data platform — not just social engagements with a brand, but actual shopping data.
The outfits that would have graced the backs of a pair of slackers in suburban southern California in 1989 may soon be back in fashion.
Indeed, the suit and/or suits of armor we seem to recall either Bill, Ted, or both of them wearing in at least one of the previous films could be all the rage next fall. The kids do seem to like that ‘Game of Thrones,’ after all.
The more sartorially inclined here at StatSocial would be able to explain why the below clothing chains find such favor with the ‘Bill & Ted’ faithful. Some of you reading may have ideas as well.
What does it all mean?
Online clothing and footwear vendor Zappos tops the list here. Their customers can be found among those eagerly awaiting news of what has become of Bill and Ted in middle age to a degree that exceeds the findings of the platform with whose data we are contrasting our own by 1.71 times.
Budget-friendly department store chain, Marshalls, finds shoppers among this crowd to a magnitude greater than the data set with which we are contrasting our own by nearly 1.60 times.
And before putting this demonstration to rest, we provide two quick, additional contrasts of our findings with the unnamed major retail data platform.
Prepared Meals & Frozen Pizza Brands
We know nothing yet of what has and/or will have become of Bill and Ted — the characters — now that they are (presumably) in their 40s or 50s. Whatever we did know of their futures from the previous films may have changed, or gone south. Once you introduce time travel into a story, a lot of elements are up for grabs.
Here’s our idea, though, and if used the below lists could prove terrifically useful in the pursuit of placements.
We’d be kicked out of any studio exec’s office were this our presentation; our written pitch crumpled in a peeved, cigar-chomping studio exec’s fist as he declares “I wouldn’t wrap FISH in this!”
Admittedly, it’s somewhat reminiscent of previous works.
But imagine this scenario for ‘Bill and Ted: 2020’:
“On November 13, Theodore Logan was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, William S. Preston Esq. Several years earlier, Preston’s wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?”
Now our heroes are going to have to eat, are they not? The Bill and Ted I know — and surely the Bill and Ted fans about whom we’ve learned, so far, via perusing the quite revealing data — may enjoy a meal or two or five a week from their grocer’s freezer aisle.
No shame in that game. This is 2019. There are numerous, legitimately delicious, affordable and nutritious options available for the microwave gourmand.
No one ever said that if a meal preparation involves submerging a pouch in boiling water that meal is somehow invalid (unless they changed the meaning of invalid to mean “delicious” when I wasn’t looking).
The first list features those manufacturers who offer a scrumptious variety of nutritious, hassle-free sustenance for the Bill, Ted, Bob, Carol, or Alice on the go. OR, on the stay, on the couch, with the streaming video and the chilling. Whichever.
Then, as it really deserves its own category, we get into it with the prepared pizzas. You know you love them. We’re New Yorkers, and by gum, while we’d maybe get drummed out of town for admitting it, we love them too.
And you know who else I bet would love them? A certain Bill and a certain Ted.
SO LET’S DO THIS THING!
If Ingmar Bergman was not deemed too heady for the ‘Bill & Ted’ audience, then perhaps a reference to the particle accelerator developed in the 1920s, the Van de Graaf generator, or the similarly monikered ’60s/’70s progressive rock band, Van der Graaf Generator, would play to the room.
Would it play to the bunch at Pinnacle Foods, manufacturers of the Van de Kamp’s brand of prepared seafood related items? A reasonable question, but hear this out.
A “Van de Kamp’s generator” would be destined to please at least one group of filmgoers of whom I can think (hint: fans of the ‘Bill & Ted’ franchise). They didn’t, after all, get the Bergman reference either. But they understood Battleship, and they’ll understand Van de Kamp’s. Indeed, to a degree exceeding our baseline here by 1.71 times.
Now we move onto a prepared meal with which most reading will surely have spent some time, the usually frozen — sometimes simply refrigerated — pizza.
Ellio’s is a regional brand — indeed, the region from where I’m typing this, the northeastern United States — yet it is still so popular in this region that it is one of the best-selling frozen pizza brands in the entire country. Fans of this rectangular staple of the childhoods of at least some StatSocial staffers can be found among this crowd to a degree exceeding the baseline by what is nearly three times.
We very recently wrote of Newman’s Own in here, we’ll spare you a bad photoshop of the egg scene from ‘Cool Hand Luke,’ with the eggs replaced by pizza.
A question is begged, though: Does ‘Newman’s Own’ do product placement, or is the considerable filmography of the great Paul Newman all one gigantic product placement? Is it reasonable to eat an entire bag of Fig Newmans after a viewing of ‘Slap Shot’?
Nonetheless, their frozen pizza, like all of their products, is terrific. It also finds admirers here to a degree that exceeds the baseline by over two-and-a-quarter times.
We believe we’ve made our point and then some. Now, be excellent to each other, would you?
Take a Sniff Around
Insights on top of insights can be found by the curious reader who chooses to poke around the StatSocial blog here. Peruse the many entries, offering all kinds of insights, studies, and deep dives to better acquaint you with the capabilities of StatSocial.
Throughout the blog are many examples of the sorts of insights that can only be gained with StatSocial.
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