Marketing lessons with Bond & Rocky


It is nearly that time of year again. The time when top marketers from around the world gather at one of the world's premier marketing trade fairs - the DMA - to meet up, present new product developments and to discuss marketing trends. Every year, the consensus is the same: visitors can't believe how much has changed! That is because we work in an industry in which the speed of innovation is breath-taking. And so the skillsets that marketers require is changing rapidly, too. We need to be creative and crunch numbers, to analyze and improvise, and to play hard and work even harder. These circumstances have given rise to a unique set of character traits among top marketers. Characteristics that are honed through our need to be adaptable and multifaceted.

But what are these traits? And who can you look to for inspiration in your quest to become a better marketer? Look no further than my selection of seven film icons below.


Character: Rocky Balboa
Film: Rocky (film series)
Character trait:Never gives up 

The mere mention of this man gets people the world over humming Eye of the Tiger. Why? Because He's inspirational. Just think of when The Italian Stallion goes up against Über-Boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

Whilst the Russian boxer trains in a high-tech facility, Rocky is out running in the snow, sawing logs and doing pull-ups in a remote barn. And when the two boxers meet in the ring in Russia, Rocky takes an almighty beating - but keeps coming back to win the fight in the final round. This is a guy who is absolutely synonymous with overcoming adversity and a getting-up-when-you're-down mentality.

Tough deadlines, lack of resources - marketers increasingly operate in difficult environments where they have to make the best of situations. Next time you're facing an uphill struggle and are thinking of quitting, think of Rocky. Work hard, prepare your work as best you can, and your next triumph will be just around the corner.


Character: Neo
Film: The Matrix Series
Character trait: Challenges the status quo 

In a world where billions of humans are neurally connected to the Matrix, unaware of the fact that the world they live in is in fact a virtual reality, Neo felt that "there is something wrong with the world". And when offered a choice to remain in his everyday life or learn about what the Matrix really is, he takes plunge and chooses the Red Pill.

Truly outstanding marketers possess highly developed critical thinking skills and are not afraid to challenge the status quo. They possess the courage to follow their instinct down paths that are unknown. But do you know what the best thing is about learning from Neo? Whatever (management) bullets are fired at you - you know you can dodge them!


Character: Hermione Granger
Film: The Harry Potter Series
Character trait: Knowledge-hungry

Harry Potter's friend is pretty darn smart. Not only is she usually the first person to master new magic spells, she is a girl geek who constantly nurtures her intelligence by reading and practicing. At the end of Sorcerer's Stone we see her using her knowledge to save herself and her friends as she summons the blue flame to stop the Devil's Snare Plant from strangling them, underlining that she not only knows her spells but she can use them when it matters

Brilliant marketers understand that to stay ahead of the game, they need to take the time to acquire knowledge and understand new trends. They speak to peers, they attend conferences and read industry magazines so they can put into practice what they learn. Hermione is smart, knowledge-hungry and fearless, precisely the traits a top-notch marketer needs.   


Character: The Dude
Film: The Big Lebowski
Character trait: Ultimate calmness

It may come as a surprise to see the ultimate slacker on this list. But think about it - marketing is multifaceted, high energy and often high pressure. When you're burning the midnight oil, take a deep breath and think about what El Duderino would do.

His ability to remain calm in the face of adversity is the stuff of (film) legend. And what's more, he understands the importance of requiring something special that ties everything together. Where his His Dudeness sees a rug that ties the room together, you see the perfect software tool that can connect data from all marketing and sales channels. Abide by his approach - and you'll be fine.


Character: James Bond
Film: James Bond Series
Character trait: Quick-witted  

Whilst a million men the world over likely already aspire to be like the world's most famous secret agent, the reasons are likely more action-gadget-women related. What I see in Bond though is a trait marketers would do well to emulate: his ability to improvise quickly and take the right decisions under pressure. In Live and Let Die, Bond is stuck on a rock and in a pretty hard place, as he is surrounded by water teeming with alligators. But does he panic? No! Our secret agent hero daintily skips across the reptiles' backs to dry-land safety.   

As a marketer, you've got your mission to generate leads, but despite the best-laid plans things go wrong (particularly at events!). Take a deep breath, work with the information at hand and take quick solution-orientated decisions. It's the Bond way - the James Bond way.


Character: Katniss Everdeen
Film: The Hunger Games Trilogy
Character trait: Analytical

The Hunger Games' protagonist is kind, tough, fiercely loyal and possesses an extensive skill-set, which includes hunting and survival techniques, as well as awesome archery skills. Jennifer Lawrence's character manages to combine her skills and quick-thinking with the tools available in order to be successful, to help others, and to beat the competition. In the first installment of the trilogy, her skills are in evidence when she finds herself in the forest being chased by a hostile group. She thinks on her feet and realizes her only hope of escape is to climb up a tree. With the chasing pack too heavy to climb the tree, all they can do is wait for her to come down, but Katniss devises a ploy to beat them by cutting down a nest of deadly hornets to drop on their camp.

Great Marketers all carry a bit of Katniss in them when it comes to beating competitors. They are highly skilled at analyzing what the competition is doing well and where their weaknesses lie. What's more, they are able to impart their own knowledge to help their team and they are masters at improving upon what the competition is doing through new and creative approaches.  


Character: Ferris Bueller
Film: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Character trait: Joie de vivre

Sure it would be nice to skip work and drive off in a Ferrari GT California, but that's not quite the point here. Ferris Bueller is a happy-go-lucky guy who enjoys life and finds creative solutions in achieving his liberty, even if it is just for one day. Whilst Ferris goes to great lengths to uphold the illusion that he is sick to get off school, it's not how he goes about it that's relevant here (we can take days off!), it's about his attitude. 
Brilliant marketers understand that in order to perform at a top level they need to find a balance between working hard and recharging. Whether it be sticking to a daily sports routine or taking vacation - you need to remember the Ferris Bueller attitude, because taking time to help you recharge and enjoy life beyond work is essential to you as a creative marketer.  


Inspiration in Your Inbox!

Sign up for your monthly dose of thought leadership.
You can unsubscribe in each newsletter at any time.