Pixar's Up: Show, Don't Tell Your B2B Marketing Message

This week, we’re looking at the iconic opening montage from Pixar’s “Up,” and how to show your audience your message instead of telling them.

Episode Summary

So many marketers use dialogue as a crutch. They spell out what their product is, how their audience could benefit from it, and wrap things up with a run-of-the-mill CTA.

But you don’t need dialogue to make a powerful B2B marketing campaign. In fact, you might not need words at all.

This week, we’re looking at the iconic opening montage from Pixar’s “Up.” The “Married Life” scene tells the story of the film’s main character, Carl’s marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Ellie. We follow them from youth to old age – and Ellie’s death. These moments have no dialogue, instead letting the music, color, and character design tell Carl’s backstory. The animators didn’t tell us about Carl’s life – they showed it to us. The result? Perhaps the most iconic scene in Pixar’s storied history – and that’s no easy feat.

And we think your B2B marketing can leverage these same techniques to communicate your message so much more effectively than a voiceover ever could.

About Pixar’s “Up”

“Up” is a 2009 animated movie by Pixar. It was directed by Pete Docter and co-director Bob Peterson, who also wrote the story along with Tom McCarthy. The original score is by Michael Giacchino.

“Up” follows 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen as he rigs up his house with balloons in an attempt to fly to Paradise Falls and fulfill a promise to his late wife. He is joined by Russell, an 8-year-old Junior Wilderness Explorer, who has stowed away by clinging to the porch as the house lifted off its foundation. Together, they navigate the treacherous journey to the falls.

Key Takeaways

What B2B Companies Can Learn From Pixar’s “Up”:

  • Let music do the emotional heavy lifting. The “Married Life” montage tells the story of Carl’s marriage to Ellie. Though the two tragically discover they can’t have children, they find hope in their childhood promise of trekking across the world to Paradise falls. The scene ends with Ellie’s funeral – and the promise left unfulfilled. These emotional moments are even more powerful because of composer Michael Giacchino’s score. In an interview, Giacchino said that the “Married Life” montage was the most difficult scene to write for. In order to make the scenes most effective, he wrote simple music for the scenes – or even opted not to score some of the most emotional moments. This restraint gave the scenes a gentle, melancholic feel, rather than a melodramatic one.
  • Tell a story with character design and color. Whether they know it or not, viewers use basic visual cues to put together and understand a scene nearly instantaneously. So much of a scene can be told through these basic visual cues like color, and shape. In “Up”, each character is designed around a shape and color that conveys something about their personalities. Carl is blue and a square, Ellie is pink and a circle, and Russell is yellow and egg-shaped. The animators also adjusted the color palettes for scenes based on their emotional content: they used saturated colors in joyful scenes and drab colors in sad scenes. These visual cues may seem basic, but the connotations of specific colors and shapes will create instant context for your ad’s viewers.
  • Focus on facial expressions and body language. We don’t just communicate with our words. The “Married Life” montage uses body language to show Carl and Ellie’s feelings towards each other. When Ellie points at a cloud, we see Carl’s blissful expression. We watch Ellie flinch as Carl smashes their savings jar again, telling us everything we need to know about how Ellie feels at that moment. Through intentional camera composition, editing, and directing, you can communicate a story with no words at all.

*”By showing, not telling, especially in this example, it forces you to fill in the blanks with words that you understand or emotions that you can connect with.” - Dane Eckerle

*”When you show a story without any V.O., we have no idea where we're going. So each thing happens sequentially and it builds on itself. You don't know where it’s going. But by the end of it, you totally get it.” - Ian Faison

*”If you go on TikTok, they're telling, not showing at all. There's someone speaking to you, there's captions, there's big text on the screen and you're seeing and hearing everything [being] spoon fed to the point where now, moments like this land that much harder, because I'm not used to using my imagination as much. This technique will work better now than it would've 15 years ago because people are so used to being spoon fed stuff. So it's all the more relevant today.” - Dane Eckerle

*”It comes down to B2B companies seeing their audience as people first and not just other businesses. You are talking to people who have real needs and different personas and different target audiences.” - Anagha Das

*”You’re marketing a journey. So as a marketer, take a snapshot of your target customer at the midpoint of their journey, and then show the story of their journey.” - Ian Faison

Episode Highlights


Watch Pixar’s Up

Learn more about how Michael Giacchino wrote the score

How did Pixar design the characters?

See how Apple used show-don’t-tell in their accessibility campaign

About Remarkable!

Remarkable! is created by the team at Caspian Studios, the premier B2B Podcast-as-a-Service company. Caspian creates both non-fiction and fiction series for B2B companies. If you want a fiction series check out our new offering - The Business Thriller - Hollywood style storytelling for B2B. Learn more at

In today’s episode, you heard from Ian Faison (CEO of Caspian Studios), Dane Eckerle (Head of Development), Colin Stamps (Podcast Launch Manager), Anagha Das (B2B Content Marketing Manager), and Meredith O’Neil (Senior Producer). Remarkable was produced this week by Meredith O’Neil, mixed by Scott Goodrich, and our theme song is “Solomon” by FALAK.

Create something remarkable. Rise above the noise.