3 Lessons from a Blue Umbrella: How Pixar Leverages the Power of Sampling


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Ever since the release of A Bug’s Life, Pixar has given film-goers a little something extra. They’ve leveraged the purple goldfish of sampling to existing customers. (Related Post: Sampling examples from Sephora, Kiehl’s, Izzy’s, Bigelow Tea) This sampling takes the shape of a Pixar short. A short is typically a 5 to 15 minute film. The release of Monsters University this summer was no exception. The film contained a six-minute short entitled, The Blue Umbrella.

Here is a clip from the short:

There are three lessons we can apply to marketing, innovation and customer experience from The Blue Umbrella:

  1. Added-value: Pixar goes above and beyond to give more than what’s expected (See: Goldfish Rule). 
  2. ExperimentationThe Blue Umbrella was directed by Saschka Unseld of Pixar’s technical department. Shorts allow Pixar to experiment with new techniques. This film tested innovations in photorealistic lighting, shading, and compositing. 
  3. Differentiation: Shorts are part of Pixar’s DNA. It’s what makes them different from other animation studios. According to Innovation Excellence, “Pixar started out as a part of Lucasfilm’s Computer Division. The team created a computer called “Pixar” and developed digital filmmaking tools and computer graphics. To show the capabilities of digital animation they made a short film, titled André and Wally B (1984). In 1985, the Computer Division gave rise to a new company, called Pixar Inc. Although their first task was to sell their computer, the animation department continued to innovate with shorts.

Takeaway Question: How are you leveraging the power of sampling to drive cx and innovation in your business?

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Big things can develop from small or short things. Acclaimed as the greatest TV show of the 20th Century by Time Magazine, The Simpson’s were originally a series of 48 short films on TV’s The Tracy Ullman Show. Here’s their first short entitled, Good Night:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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