Despite being over 80 years old, the ending to Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz provides a valuable lesson for marketers in the present day.
When the yellow-brick-road gang first encounter the Wizard, he’s a marvellous spectacle – a gigantic, green face foregrounded by lights, fire, smoke, and sculpture. He speaks in overblown, self-important cliches: “I am Oz, the great and powerful! Who are you?” The gang are visibly awestruck, but also intimidated and unable to connect to this character. His face is almost entirely obscured by the extravagant technological display surrounding him. They cautiously approach with shaking knees, and quickly scamper out of sight.
Later, when Dorothy et al. return to the Wizard, they are more confrontational. They don’t like this character, nor do they trust him, and so the exchange becomes hostile. He continues to communicate in a totally opaque manner, which only fuels their frustration. At this point, these characters are unlikely to invest their time and efforts into an exchange with the Wizard ever again.
Dorothy’s dog Toto tugs at a curtain in a corner of the room to reveal a man pulling levers and speaking into a microphone. It suddenly becomes apparent that the Wizard they have been interacting with is nothing more than a machine, a poorly-handled projection of a person that conceals the real human being behind the curtain.
The gang are furious with this guy. “You’re a very bad man,” says Dorothy.
“Oh no, my dear. I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad wizard,” he replies. For our purposes, this man is also a very bad marketer.
The two scenes perfectly demonstrate how – when mishandled – technology can become a barrier between consumers and brands and have a devastating impact on both customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
The good side to all this
It’s no secret that leveraging technology, particularly automation, can provide huge benefits for efficiency and productivity, as well as revenue. In 2021, a study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research and SnapLogic found that companies investing in automation technology saw an average year-on-year increase in revenue of 5-7% within the first three months. The tech also boosts job growth (up 4-7%), and long-term productivity (up 15%).