American Gangster is a great film about marketing. All students and professionals in marketing should go see the film and learn a thing or two about the importance of branding and protecting the brand you create. If I were a lecturer who teaches marketing, I would take my students on a field trip to the cineplex, get them to take notes during the movie, and hold a post-mortem discussion after that. Then I would write a proposal to the college/university/whatever to set up a special budget for purchasing multiple copies of the DVD as essential viewing for all marketing students. I would also go so far as to suggest that the movie be included as part of the syllabus.
While the movie is really just another story about the scourge and darker side of the American Dream, gangster Frank Lucas emphasises the importance of branding. His cocaine, imported from Thailand, is called Blue Magic, has a unique packaging to call its own, and is sold at lower than market price. Lucas protects his brand not with copyrights and patents but with fists and bullets.
Now, here's where it gets interesting. In today's world, marketing is everything. And who the better experts in this than the Americans? Hollywood itself has shown us time and again that aggressive marketing can sell just about anything. (Cloverfield, anyone?) And now, here's a Hollywood movie about what Hollywood does best.
But as a crime thriller, American Gangster is mediocre at best, with nothing surprising or new to offer. But to Ridley Scott's credit, the movie is well-paced and never boring for a minute. Yet I can't help but compare American gangster films with those from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong films, the cops know who the gangsters are and what they do, but are unable to do anything about it. That makes things infinitely more interesting.
But then again, it's all about marketing, and if it's done well, you can damn well sell just about anything.