If you’ve ever caught an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, you know that it’s absolutely brilliant and hilarious – and makes a good point about marketing. My son was watching it while I was cooking (you’ll never catch me admitting to ever watching it) and Patrick, a simpleton starfish, walks up to Plankton, a restaurateur that owns a place called The Chum Bucket, while he’s putting up a slogan outside the restaurant that says, “Chum is Metabolic Fuel”. Poor Patrick then says his brain is sad because he doesn’t understand what Plankton is trying to say with the sign (it’s too technical for his tiny starfish brain). Plankton then bets Patrick that the sign will get customers coming to the restaurant in droves and swarms. They wait, and against Plankton’s somewhat arrogant assumption, not one customer shows up at The Chum Bucket.
Upon realizing the failed attempt, Patrick tries his hand – err, one of the points of his star, at marketing. He writes, “Chum is Fum!” and immediately there are lines out the door. However, the buzz shortly starts to wear off the customers. The chum isn’t so great anymore, and the customers begin to barf it up. Noticing that Patrick’s approach was more successful than his own, Plankton commands Patrick to write another slogan. Three days later he writes, “Fum is Chum” and the customers are lined up out the door again.
Patrick’s revised slogan worked, bringing customers back in droves. But after Plankton insults all of his customers and refuses to pay Patrick for his marketing efforts, the starfish gets a new marketing job with The Krusty Krab, a competitive restaurant famous for dishing up Krabby Patties. The new campaign declares “Krabby Patties are Fum!” and of course, the customers are lined up out the door.
So what exactly did I learn while watching – I mean, supervising my son watch Spongebob?
1) Don’t be too technical in your writing.
2) Create something new. Notice how Patrick wrote chum is “fum” instead of “fun”, helping to create a culture of customers that “get it”?
3) Keep your marketing fresh and respect your customers. This may seem overly simple, but it’s the basics to communication that many campaigns seem to miss.
Oh, and my favorite part is to 4) value your creative guy. Patrick he knew what brought the customers in, but Plankton didn’t value his work so Patrick took his ideas elsewhere.