Perhaps the biggest surprise at the Academy Awards this year was French film The Artist taking home Best Picture, the most prestigious award at this most prestigious awards show. Even if you weren’t surprised The Artist won, you were surprised that you weren’t surprised The Artist won. And that’s because the film’s success spoke to some universal truths about what makes great content great.

About The Artist

In case you’re out of the loop, The Artist is directed by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius and stars actors Bérénice Bejo and Jean Dujardin, who also won the best actor title for his part in the film.

The film takes place in 1927 Hollywood and is both witty and fun. And the most surprising thing about the film: It’s almost completely silent.

The Academy wasn’t alone in praising the film. The Los Angeles Times called The Artist a “wonder of the age, as much a miracle as Avatar, though it comes at things from the totally opposite direction.” Twitter users weighed in with 140-character praises like “a silent film that left me speechless!” In other words, everybody seems to have fallen for The Artist.

What does this have to do with marketing?

Flashy, tech-powered films such as Transformers and Harry Potter were nominated in a few different Oscar categories, yet it was the silent film that took home five awards this year. There are a couple of important lessons here for marketers, businesses and content creators.

First, it’s possible to create something great without fancy toys or inflated budgets. Whether you’re working with digital or social or print, it all comes down to the content, not the platform.

Second, people still appreciate simple. The most up-to-date technologies are great, but sometimes they simply aren’t necessary to get a story across. Just because audiences are used to fancy tricks doesn’t mean that they don’t know great content when they see it.

What this all comes down to is that people still respond to quality. A great story is a great story. We tend to think that our world is full of people who can’t sit still to watch one commercial (thanks, TiVo) or read a newspaper ad. But maybe the problem is the content and not the audience.

The Artist’s producers took a risk and got it right. You can too.