The tattoos covering Leonard's body create a bizarre visual, but are a necessity. They are part of his 'system' of reminders. Reminders of information long-lost due to a freak injury, all various lifelines that secure him to a point in time when his memory didn't dictate that his life must restart every 5 minutes.
But for now, he is in a hotel room. He doesn't know where he was 5 minutes ago, and 5 minutes from now he won't remember being here, but for now, he is in a hotel room.
The phone rings and Leonard immediately grabs the receiver.
"Who is this?" he asks.
We then see Leonard explaining to the unknown caller the events of his life that led up to his injury. An injury that occurred during a robbery at his home. An injury that took Leonard's short term memory, that occurred during a robbery that would end up taking his wife's life. Leonard explains all this to an unknown caller.
As Leonard is having his discussion with the unknown caller, he continues to scratch and pick at a bandage on his arm. Eventually, the tape begins to give way, and Leonard notices something black on his arm under the bandage, and quickly removes it to reveal a tattoo:
Never Answer The Phone
A shocked Leonard stops talking in mid-sentence, holds the receiver for a second then asks "Who is this?"
The unknown caller immediately hangs up.
Leonard's confused look tells us that he's thinking the same thing we are; "What the hell just happened?"
If you watch the movie Memento, that's a question you'll ask yourself early and often. It's one of my favorite movies, I've probably watched it 50 times, and I still can't tell you what happens. Neither can the lead character, Lenny.
And that's what makes Memento such a brilliant film; we see the movie as if it's coming from Leonard's eyes. We have to start over every 5 minutes (you'll have to watch it to understand), we don't know who is telling us the truth, and who is lying. We struggle to make sense of the world we are seeing, 5 minutes at a time.
Good marketing is a lot like Memento. Just as Memento lets us see the world from the lead character's point of view, good marketing rests in seeing the world from the customer's point of view. In realizing that the customer's point of view probably involves wants and needs completely different from our own.
But that can begin to change if we start to see the world through their eyes. If like the audience watching Lenny, we begin to relate to the lead character, the customer.
So give it, and Memento, a shot. If nothing else, you'll have seen a great movie, even if you have no idea what just happened.
The Viral Garden, Marketing, Remember Sammy Jankis