Marketing Lessons from Breaking Bad

Walter White

For fans of AMC’s hit TV show Breaking Bad, last night was full of mixed emotions as we witnessed the epic finish to perhaps TV’s best show.  We were relieved that it was over, satisfied with the ending (at least I thought it was awesome), and perhaps also sad that there would be no new episodes, ever again.

As in all quality narratives, there are deep lessons to be learned.  Here are a few marketing pointers I drew from the hit show.

#1: Underline What Makes Your Product Special

For those of you not familiar with the show, Breaking Bad follows a mild mannered chemistry teacher, Walter Hartwell White, as he copes with cancer and the need to find a way to support his family after his expected death.  To make a long story short, he resorts to a life of crime: mainly, producing the greatest meth the world has ever seen.

Walt’s product is 99% “pure” methamphetamine – an unheard of purity – and is naturally blue in color due to the lack of chemical interference.

At one point in the show, other meth producers dye their product blue to intimate it is of the same ilk as the other, purer drug.  However, customers can easily tell otherwise.

And when moving the drug across the nation and overseas, everyone wants Walt’s recipe.  The distributors know he’s got the purest, best, and most profitable product.  Because of that vital factor, it sells itself.

Brothers#2: Brains over Brawn

Walter White is no Superman and neither is his side kick, Jesse Pinkman.  During their adventures in the drug industry they meet up with the dangers of a blood thirsty cartel, law enforcement that is always too close for comfort, and a host of other infamous antagonists.  One thing remains clear, however: most of the battling takes place as a chess game: a mind war: “May the best plan or man win,” so to speak.

In marketing, taking a shotgun into the marketplace is no way to effectively boost sales.  You can’t just try to clog people’s ears with a “randomly stitched-together the night before” message.  The clearer the strategy, the more efficiently your limited marketing funds can be put to good use to produce the best return on investment possible.

Chances are, the winning team is the one who did their homework best.  That’s just the way it is.

Jesse Pinkman#3: Perseverance

Though nobody understands “the virtues of child poisoning,” as Saul Goodman would put it, despite the main characters’ often evil actions, an over-arching trait we can admire is their undying tenacity to get the job done.  Though this takes them through overwhelming and incredible odds, careful and ingenious planning (as abovementioned) coupled with the will to never give up win out time and again during the show.

And that’s something worth emulating

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