“Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter. However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.”
Two days after this heartfelt statement, Roger Ebert’s human vessel stopped functionning. But in the mesmerising universe of moving pictures, his stories will always help us sail in the right direction, no matter in which journey we embark.
I am one of those people to whom Roger was thanking. But more importantly, I am one of those who will always thank him.
Why talk about a movie critic on an internet marketing web site? Well, for one, it is personal. I was always a moviegoer, but Roger made me an impassioned one. Like many, I preferred his words over others’ not only because they were so masterfully and subtly crafted, but because his reviews always revealed things that helped me make up my own mind.
His stories about stories were transporting me way beyond the action of the movie, either in the universe where the original idea came from, or in the one where it had taken the shape of the movie. I learned, this way, about actors, directors, writers, producers and their craft. About the heroes, foes, or any other characters those movies depicted.
His knowledge was encyclopedic. But no matter what he wrote, it never felt pretentious, Roger would impart that knowledge with exquisite wit and perception, but most of all, with the ultimate quality: his love of the movies.
It was this love, coupled with his talent for words, that transformed Roger Ebert into a household name not only for the Chicago Sun-Times, but for the world of motion pictures at large. Indeed, he succeeded to be a lasting brand in a world of ever vanishing ones, by remaining the same kid-like movie enthusiast while enticing thousands to step into the theaters, with his wit and introspection.
In PR Week, I recently discovered an article that ties Roger Ebert to the world of marketing. The author finds quite a few compelling arguments to make. It is entitled “Ten things marketers can learn from Roger Ebert.” To those, I would only add one: create thankful people. Maybe this isn’t as much a separate argument, as it is an all-encompassing one. When the brand is you, it cannot be exclusively about you. It is always about those that you touch, and how you have touched them. I know no better way to be in anyone’s life than being thanked to, honestly, fondly.
Thank you, Roger Ebert!