In the world of 144 characters it is a pleasure to spend 90 minutes or more with an amazing story about someone that you know nothing about. Biopics give us fascinating insights about people we may not know much about – but the new information doesn’t end with the movie. A great “biopic” is actually an “online trigger” – it starts an ongoing digital scavenger hunt for more facts about the character in the biopic and produces a surge of social media searches.

Our research shows that more than 35% of viewers will do some form of online research after watching a “biopic” film. To understand this “desire to know, prove & publish” phenomenon, let’s look at 5 great biopics that became “online triggers” for social media traffic.

1 – Factory Girl (2008 biopic of socialite/model Edie Sedgwick)
2 – Gia (1998 biopic of high fashion model Gia Marie Carangi
3 – Basquiat (1996 biopic of New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat)
4 – The Girl (2012 biopic of actress Tippi Hedren)
5 – Gonzo (2008 biography of author Hunter S. Thompson)

Why these five films?
All of these biopics are stories of lessor known people, who are connected to larger than life figures in interesting time periods. They:

offer a glimpse into an interesting life story we don’t know very much about
open the door for us to question the validity of the story
question our knowledge about what we do know
make us want to find out more
It makes you wonder if these movies were produced by Google just to trigger searches.

Factory Girl explores the downward spiraling world of the 1960s underground film star, socialite, and Warhol Superstar Edie Sedgwick. It puts the viewer in the middle of Andy Warhol’s famous New York studio “the factory”. It opens up the door for us to want to know – who was Edie? What was Bob Dylan’s connection to the Factory? Did Nico, the stunning German singer from the Velvet Underground (who became the new face of the Factory) push Edie out? Is their 1967 song “Femme Fatale” about Edie?

The Google travel on “Edie Sedgewick” is a long and interesting track that explains the launch of the Pop Art movement and the underground music scene.

The biopic of Gia follows the quick rise from nowhere to super model of Gia Marie Carangi and her tragically flawed short life. It’s an interesting glimpse into the cocaine frenzied high fashion world of the late 70’s Studio 54 New York scene. This film prompts you to Google “Studio 54”. “Who was Wilnelmina Cooper”? “Was Gia one of the first high profile female victims of aids” and plenty more.

Basquait gives an in-depth view into the troubled life of the street graffiti artist who turned into one the most acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter of the 1980s overnight. Discovered and promoted by Andy Warhol, Basquait quickly moved from living in a cardboard box to seeing his paintings sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The film features a who’s who of art film world with Dennis Hopper, William deFoe, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken and David Bowie as Warhol. After watching this film you’ll want to know what the Bowie connection was, where are his paintings now, and how much is a Basquait worth – to mention a few.

The Girl is the story of the relationship between model turned actress Tippi Hedren and the director Alfred Hitchcock. As with all biopics, you need to watch with a skeptical eye, as they are recreations of events, conversations and relationships that are one person’s point of view … it is sometimes hard to tell where the fact and fiction blend. The Girl is an exploration of Hitchcock’s obsession and power over his star in The Birds. From the viewing of The Girl, you will want to question what Hitchcock was really like, whatever happened to Tippi, who is Tippi’s famous daughter – and even where you can get a copy of The Birds.

Gonzo is the biography of the true madman of journalism and fiction Hunter S. Thompson. It is a tribute to a genius, a drunk, an outlaw and the outspoken writer that put Jimmy Carter in the White House and penned the cult classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It is a fascinating look into the twisted mind of one of the sharpest writers to come out of the US over the past few decades. Narrated by his good friend Johnny Depp and featuring interviews with Hunter, his genius artist partner Ralph Steadman and a colourful cast of counter culture celebrities, it makes you want tp dig deeper and deeper into his life and connections – such as – who pulled the trigger for the rocket containing his ashes at his funeral? How much did he have to do with Nixon leaving office? How true to life was Fear and Loathing?

All five of these films demonstrate the power of a good story opening up your mind to find out more… and triggering your Google finger to find the answers. Once you have all this new knowledge you can blog it, add your point of view and feed your social media network. That is the power of curiosity, when combined with online searches and social media today.

How does this study impact your marketing? Think of how you can create your own online triggers. You can market your brand like a biopic, by providing your audience with just enough information that they want more – and so they search online, create social media conversations, and build more buzz for your brand.

cheers grant

Grant Ivens, RGD
brand surgeon | rocket scientist
Say What! Communications Corp.
116A Main St North, Markham, ON, Canada L3P 1X8
T 905.752.3110