Wild at Heart: B2B Marketing Lessons from the Palme d’Or-Winning Film with Founder & CEO of Talentless AI, Steve Mudd

In this episode,  we’re looking at the 1990 movie Wild at Heart starring Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern; the movie our guest, Steve Mudd, said was “the first movie that I ever saw that was unlike every other movie I had ever seen.” Steve is Founder & CEO of Talentless AI. Together, we talk about how to use a simple storyline to be creative elsewhere, and how to create a campaign unlike any other.

Episode Summary

Have you ever daydreamed about running your marketing off the rails and blazing your own trail? A trail that feels so true to your company yet so outside the bounds of what B2B marketing normally looks like?

It probably feels way too risky. You’ll think, “I’ll alienate my audience.” OR you might find your true audience. Your ride or die audience. And wouldn’t that be worth the risk?

Today, we’re looking at the 1990 movie Wild at Heart starring Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern; the movie our guest, Steve Mudd, said was “the first movie that I ever saw that was unlike every other movie I had ever seen.” It’s a movie that has stuck with him ever since he first saw it that he returns to it again and again. Just like you want your customers to do with your brand.

Steve is Founder & CEO of Talentless AI, and he’s here to guide our exploration of marketing lessons taken from the cult classic. Together, we talk about how to use a simple storyline to be creative elsewhere, and how to create a campaign unlike any other. So buckle up for this wild and viscerally thrilling episode of Remarkable.

About our guest, Steve Mudd

Steve Mudd is founder and CEO of Talentless AI, a next-gen creative agency focused on creating good content at scale. Talentless AI is bringing together best-of-breed capabilities in GenAI, synthetic media, and digital production to help brands be more human in the age of AI.

Previously, he led content marketing and messaging strategy for the Public Cloud Services business unit at NetApp, where he delivered provocative content that told complicated stories in creative and authentic ways.

Steve has a long history as an IT storyteller, working for Ogilvy on brands such as IBM, Lenovo, Level 3 Communications, and Iron Mountain. He was also the host of the popular Ogilvy Podcast. Prior to Ogilvy, he marketed wind energy for Xcel Energy, helped transform sales and marketing for Encyclopaedia Britannica, and was a tour guide for the Coors Brewery. He also wrote, directed, and produced the feature film, Seclusion, now available on VHS at your local Blockbuster. He holds a BA in English from the University of Wyoming.

About Wild at Heart

Wild at Heart is a movie about a young couple, Sailor and Lula, who run away together after Lula’s mom hires a hitman to kill Sailor. It stars Nicholas Cage as Sailor and Laura Dern as Lula. Sailor is a very romantic just-out-of-jail type that wears a snakeskin jacket and sweeps southern belle Lula away in his 1965 Thunderbird convertible. And they plan to run away to California, stopping at motels along the way. It was written and directed by David Lynch based on the book by Barry Gifford. When it came out in 1990, Wild at Heart was very controversial because of its sexual and violent content. The Guardian called it “a film of extreme violence and ugliness.” It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival where critic Dave Kehr said it was received with “the most violent chorus of boos and hisses to be heard in a decade.” Nevertheless, it became the controversial recipient of the esteemed Palme d’Or.

Key Takeaways

What B2B Companies Can Learn From Wild at Heart:

  • Create a campaign so wildly different from the rest. Which may take a bit of daring, but is actually not that hard to do, since B2B marketing tends to be serious, corporate and sterile. Instead, make it funny and playful. Draw inspiration from your favorite movie, TV show, B2C ad, whatever! Surprise your audience that they are, indeed, seeing a B2B campaign. It will stick with them. Steve says, “When we go to the movies, we have an expectation of what that movie's gonna be. When I see marketing, when I go on LinkedIn now, I have an expectation of what that's gonna be.  But if I see something that's really, really different, I'm going to be attracted to that. My eyeballs are going to be drawn to that and I'm going to go to that.”
  • Use a simple storyline. It’s easier for your audience to get on board with and follow. Plus it allows your message to shine. Ian says that Wild at Heart doesn’t have “the craziest plot. It's not the craziest storyline. But the characters and everything else are crazy. David Lynch fills in the entire tapestry with the most ridiculous characters you could ever possibly imagine.” So using a simple storyline, like how David Lynch uses a roadtrip, gets your audience hooked while allowing for flexibility to be creative elsewhere.
  • Include familiar elements in an usual campaign. They act as a tether for the viewer, so they’ll still understand what you’re marketing. It’s like how David Lynch uses references to The Wizard of Oz as storytelling mechanisms. So viewers who are familiar with the story of Dorothy on the yellow brick road will draw parallels between what happens in Wild at Heart, and all the trials Sailor and Lula face on their way. Steve says that David Lynch combines “the incredibly familiar” with his storytelling so that the viewer is “open to the weirdness of the world.” So in your next wild campaign, remember to tether it back to your brand, your message, and your known characters.

*”The story is still king, the characters are still king. And so the thing that you haven't seen before may not be this explosive visual or violent thing. But it's going to come down to the strength of the character and the voice in the content that you create.” - Steve Mudd

*”If it just looks different, it’ll stand out. It's something that someone has to stop scrolling and give three extra seconds to be like, ‘What is this? I don't know if I like it or not, but what is it?’ There's literally hundreds and hundreds of people that have a story of walking out from watching Wild at Heart. And like, that's better than nothing. It's better than being forgotten.” - Ian Faison

Episode Highlights


Connect with Steve on LinkedIn

Learn more about Talentless AI

About Remarkable!

Remarkable! is created by the team at Caspian Studios, the premier B2B Podcast-as-a-Service company. Caspian creates both nonfiction 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) and Meredith Gooderham (Senior Producer). Remarkable was produced this week by Meredith O’Neil, mixed by Scott Goodrich, and our theme song is “Solomon” by FALAK.

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