Jordan Ogren

December 13, 2021

I hate movies. But you should watch this one.

How many black and white movies have you watched?

For us youngin’s, it’s likely under ten. Not for me.

I am a huge Twilight Zone fan. And they were initially only in black and white, which forced me to consume many b&w movies in my youth.

But not many lately (this could be due to my lack of movie watching). That was until I watched The Passing on Netflix.

What. A. Movie.

It’s about two black women who are “light” enough to pass as white. Passing is when someone of one race (usually black) passes as another race (white) to gain the benefits of that race.

The movie is set in the 1920s and is in black and white. Do you see why they choose to use black and white? It fits immaculately with the premise of the movie.

After watching, I couldn’t stop thinking about the film. Not because it was incredibly emotional, but because of the lessons of how marketing can and should be done. That’s what I plan to share in this email. 

If you want to watch the movie, continue at your own risk, as I will share significant spoilers.

The first marketing lesson from this movie is to zag when everyone zigs.

Today, most movies use spectacular colors, high definition, and angles that make you feel in the film. That works for many movies.

But sometimes, the rule–shoot in the highest quality and color–should be broken. But when should you veer from the rule?

When it amplifies your premise. 

The movie is about the challenge and delicate line of being black but passing as white. And what better way to drive this home than use black and white.

Marketing example: When everyone makes their website super visual, make yours clear and text-based with links to where they want to go. 

( is a beautiful example of this)

The second marketing lesson is that when you use a proper tilt (being different) in your content or marketing, it allows you to do things others can’t. 

While shooting the movie in black and white limited what it could do, it had excellent visual effects (soft edges) that made you feel like a dream. 

The movie also focused heavily on creating tension through silence or body language, rather than sweet shots or smooth transitions.

You could say they handicapped themselves, forcing them to do more with their script, but I argue they used that weakness (no color) as a strength as it forced them to focus on other things.

Marketing example: Instead of doing an interview-based podcast with back and forth dialogue, choose to narrate the questions and provide the guest’s answers in unique ways (tell a story through their answers and not a conversation). 

(The Creative Elements Podcast ( by Jay Clouse is a wonderful example of tilting an interview podcast)

The final marketing lesson is how they never give you the answer to what’s going on. 

This veers from the black and white theme, but it’s a lesson you can apply to your marketing.

Instead of saying whether the main character’s husband is having an affair with the “passing” woman, it leaves it up for your interpretation. Like in the final scene, you don’t know who pushed that woman (the one who passes) out of the window to her death.

Was it her white husband who lunged at her because he finally figured out she wasn’t white? 
Was it the main character–who was beside her–that wanted to get rid of her messing around with her husband?
Or, was it the woman herself who jumped to her death, realizing her life of passing was over, and she was as good as dead?

You, the viewer, get to decide.

Marketing example: Instead of telling your audience what to believe, share facts, anecdotes, and reasons why you believe what you do and allow them to come to their conclusion.

No one likes to be told what to think. But we like to improve how we think by hearing others’ thoughts.

While I may have ruined the film for you, I would still highly recommend watching it and maybe getting a lesson or two for marketing that I missed.

Or watch it to enjoy it. That’s something I’m working on…

Marketeer Insights ⚔️
  • Be different with your marketing. Break standard rules to stand out.
  • When you find your tilt (your difference) with your content or marketing, realize the handicap is an opportunity to make it better, not weaker.
  • Share your reasons for why you believe something, but always allow your audience to come to their own conclusion—guide them, but don’t force them.

🧠 + ❤️ // JO