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The “but it came out in 2007 meme” and your demo

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Your demo…but it came out in 2007.

If you’ve spent any time on the interwebs lately, you may have noticed the “but it came out in 2007” meme floating around. Like most memes, it’s a weird combination of stupid and hilarious, but I can’t stop watching it. I’ve also realized that it contains some good lessons for how to make your SaaS demos more impactful.

What is “but it came out in 2007?”

The meme is someone putting the Linkin Park song “What I’ve Done” at the end of a movie that didn’t come out in 2007. Seriously – that’s the whole thing.

The inspiration was the end of the first Michael Bay directed Transformers movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s basically a 2.5 hour GM car commercial, but also stuff blows up and robots fight and Megan Fox is there. It’s exactly what you would expect from a Michael Bay movie. The movie ends with the Linkin Park song playing over an overly dramatic monologue from Optimus Prime (the leader of the Autobots – aka the “good Transformers”) – the guitar hits, “Directed by Michael Bay” comes up, and the credits roll.

The origin of the but it came out in 2007 meme: Transformers directed by Michael Bay

Recently, @AilingMedia posted “The Godfather but it came out in 2007.” In it, we see the famous final scene of The Godfather, when – spoiler alert! – Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) steps into his father’s role as the head of the Corleone crime family, while his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) stares as the door closes.

In the original, the music is the “Love Theme from The Godfather:”

In the meme version, the song is replaced with “What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park. It’s weirdly great, particularly when the movie title comes in at just the right time. Besides, if you think about it, Kay realizing what Michael has done (and not being able to do anything about it) is sort of the point of the scene.

There are a bunch of these going around. Seinfeld. Batman Begins. Guardians of the Galaxy. Star Trek (because of course I need to reference Star Trek). All of them follow that same format.

What could “but it came out in 2007” possibly have to do with demos?

Great question! Believe it or not, there are two lessons we can take away from this meme:

  1. We pay attention to something we don’t expect.
  2. Association drives memory.

Paying attention to the unexpected

In “Made to Stick” (which, coincidentally, also came out in 2007), one of the key concepts is “breaking a pattern.” The human brain is constantly seeking patterns, and we tend to expect things based on those patterns.

The Godfather meme in our example works because it’s unexpected. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that ending scene, and you know the song. You’ve probably seen that scene every Thanksgiving as long as you can remember, so you know exactly what to expect.

(If you haven’t seen The Godfather, go watch it immediately if not sooner. It’s only 3 hours long. I’ll wait.)

Except, in this case, you don’t hear the song you expect. Hearing an alt-metal (is that how we would classify Linkin Park?) song over that scene is very unexpected, and so you pay attention.

When you walk into the room to run a demo, the client knows what to expect. They’ve been in (and forgotten) hundreds of sales meetings. They expect you to walk through some introductions, give some background on the company, and show some features. But if you can do something that they don’t expect – start with a story, for example – that breaks through. They’ll pay attention and, ultimately, remember you, simply because you did something different.

I’ll bet that if you tell a relevant and impact story in your next meeting, your client will likely remember you; if you just show features, your client probably won’t remember you at all.

Association drives memory

One of our guiding principles in Demo2Win! comes from the Triune Brain Theory, which posits that various groupings of systems in the brain (Reptilian, Limbic, Neocortex) are responsible for fear, attention, and memory.

When it comes to memory, there are two ways we typically remember things: repetition and association. Repetition is likely how you learned things like historical facts or multiplication tables. You repeat “7 * 6 = 42” over and over again, until eventually you remember it. Until, of course, after the test, when you immediately forget it.

Association is a bit harder to control, and it’s when our brain makes connections that drive memory. We hear songs that take us back to the moment we first heard them. Realtors offer freshly baked cookies at an open house so we think of home and childhood. And clients remember meetings because of the storys we tell.

Weirdly enough, I associated the original Transformers movie and the song. As in, when I heard it playing over The Godfather, I immediately got the reference. And it’s been more than 10 years since I’ve seen that movie.

In the last section, I talked about breaking the pattern with a story. I’ve won deals because clients have associated me/my company with the story I told. For example, clients have remembered my Shark Tank analogy, or how I could compare marketing tech with the experience at my local record store. Those clients may not have remembered the features I showed, or even the company I was with, but they do remember those stories.

That said, this meme only works if you get the original reference. Much like reference-driven stories only work if you audience gets the reference. So before telling a story, make sure to ask yourself if the audience will get the reference. If they won’t, perhaps you need a new one.

Demo memes?

For more fun demo memes, check out our all new page that’s chock full of them. If you have more examples of the “…but it came out in 2007” meme, we’d love to see those in the comments.

And, as always, if you want to learn more about how to tell better stories, deliver more impactful demos, discover more during discovery or win with executives, drop us a line.

More examples

Seinfeld Finale…but it came out in 2007

Batman Begins…but it came out in 2007

Guardians of the Galaxy…but it came out in 2007

Star Trek The Motion Picture…but it came out in 2007

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