The primary driver behind 12 Years a Slave‘s profound impact on audiences? Its power to draw you so deeply into Solomon Northup’s perspective, the lines between your POV and the protagonist’s become amazingly blurred.
Over the course of the film, Solomon is subjected to increasingly atrocious treatment, which we, as audience members, seem to experience right alongside him; starting from the same place (freedom) and traveling through the same journey (slavery), to its conclusion (reinstatement). It’s the closest I’ll come to experiencing slavery firsthand, and the biggest reason behind the movie’s effectiveness.
And in the days after, when I was still shell-shocked by the experience, I realized: savvy marketers could employ this literary device to evoke strong feelings in their audiences that leave a lasting impact.
And they do.
For more on how 12 Years a Slave and its narrative finesse can have an important effect on marketing strategy, read my original piece: 12 Years a Slave: Perspective is Everything.