The Commitments

Posted on December 8, 2010

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In 1991, a friend of mine made me go watch The Commitments. I loved the tale of working-class, unemployed, young people from Dublin’s North Side who are, briefly, uplifted from their lives by the power of soul music. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Alan Parker, the director, also made Fame and Pink Floyd: The Wall. Those are pretty strong credentials when it comes to music movies.

The Commitments got me to listen to must that I might otherwise have missed. It wasn’t hard. I had already dived deeply into the blues because of The Blues Brothers, so diving into old-school soul because of another movie was a short step.

Now, after years working in marketing, I’ve watched it again (thanks, BBCA), and this time I was struck by Jimmy Rabbitte’s promotion skills. Take this exchange for example:

Reporter: When’s your next gig?

Outspan: Well, we haven’t really…

Jimmy: We’re the guerillas of rock and roll. We strike, and then we fade into the night.

Jimmy uses Outspan’s literal response as time to think, then he answers the question not only with a usable quote (showing he understands the reporter’s job) but with a story. Jimmy is building the band’s story with his answers. He’s controlling the conversation. He’s creating a brand.

Next time you go in for a meeting, or an interview, try it. It’s only rock and roll.

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