Of Twitter, Quentin Tarantino, Le Big Mac, pointless babble and advertising ..

Last week, when I chaired two sessions at CTIA in San Diego , I had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people.

I always make it a point to meet start-ups where possible and one such start-up talked of their product to me …

It was well funded and thought it had a great product ..

My feedback was .. it needed a ‘social change’ for viral uptake .. i.e. a behavioural change which people may not make .. and I said Twitter is so successful because it mirrors our behaviour ..

At which point ..they quickly pointed out the oft repeated statistic .. that Twitter is 40% babble ..

Although I was tired and jetlagged .. this was my response ..

I asked them if they had seen the movie Pulp Fiction ?

The question caught them by surprise .. but they said yes .. they had ..

Ok .. then I asked them did they remember the Mc Donald’s scene? (‘Royale with Cheese’ or ‘Le Big Mac’) i.e. the scene when John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson are driving at the beginning of the movie ..

Yes .. they said .. still not sure where this was going or how it was relevant to their start-up ..

My point it: That conversation has nothing at all to do with the REST of the movie .. but it is exactly the way REAL LIFE works i.e. small talk … (aka ‘Babble’). Babble it may be .. but that succeeds exactly because it mirrors existing social behaviour

And Quentin Tarantino is a genius to recognise this .. and I see almost no OTHER instance of such small talk in movies ..

So, this has everything to do with their social media service .. their product will be successful if it mirrors real life .. else .. its going to need a lot of money or a lot of luck and it is not likely to be ‘viral’ since that’s not the way people live ..

And that by the way is why Twitter is successful but some don’t get it and never will in my view because they are so focussed on a specific niche they understand but miss the big picture ..

Also, when people say .. something is babble .. they mean from a commercial/advertising perspective .. and I have a HUGE problem with advertisers having an inflated sense of their own importance ..

And .. how much of advertising is really relevant??(Babble?)

And here is the scene I refer to below ..

By the way, it has some strong language (After all this is Pulp Fiction – not the Sound of Music! Ha ha!) ..

But seriously, this advice is unorthodox but probably accurate .. there is a lot you can learn from it ..


  1. Ric Haley says:

    As a veteran of traditional media, agency owner and Tarantino fan your article really spoke to me. Your advice to mirror life was great and holds true in any advertising that stands out from the pack. And i agree that very few achieve the “babble” distinction.
    I couldn’t help but speculate on several other examples of cinematic babble: Rhett Butler “frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”, or Clint Eastwood’s”go ahead, make my day.” I could go on and on but when i try to think of how many ads met that standard my quick recall came to jolting halt.
    I love the way you explain and build the value of “babble” please babble on.

  2. Ajit Jaokar says:

    many thanks for your kind comments Ric rgds Ajit