Home  › Marketing › Strategies

A Digital Marketer Breaks Bad

  |  October 30, 2013   |  Comments   |  

My digital marketing takeaways from blockbuster TV drama Breaking Bad.

I got introduced to the show "Breaking Bad" quite recently and I must say that five seasons later, the show has changed my life and my views on marketing. With 6 million Facebook followers and over 10 million viewers for the final episode, the show has been rated as one of the best TV dramas of all time!

breakingbadThe evolution of "Walter White," the chief protagonist, from a meek high school chemistry teacher to "Heisenberg," a ruthless drug lord, is inspiring and full of life and marketing lessons.

The life lessons may be too exhaustive to summarize in a column; therefore I'm going to spend the next five hundred words describing my digital marketing takeaways:

1. Look deeper for opportunities: In a saturated marketing world, it’s hard to find new customers and opportunities. Walt got the idea for the meth business at a drug raid with his brother-in-law. The core insight for him was that there was demand for the product but the existing suppliers were meeting that demand through low quality product and yet making money. The brilliant chemist in Walt was quick to see the gap in the market for a high quality product and a potential money making opportunity. Similarly, the idea for your next online viral campaign can come from the anywhere as long as you look hard enough!

2. Distribution is key: As marketers we think that our products are the best. This spirit keeps us going to find new ways to distinguish ourselves but can also blindside us about the fact that our products are as good as the distribution network. Walt knew that he could use his chemistry skills to make a great product, but had no idea how to distribute it. Therefore, he partnered with a national distributor to penetrate the market in the shortest time.

3. Stay on brand: From the lawyer, Saul reminding everyone about his slogan, "Better Call Saul" to Walt and his wife Skyler pushing the motto of their carwash "Have an A1 Day" the show provides us numerous examples of staying on brand messaging and reinforcing it at every touch point from banners ads to websites.

4. Take risks: On the surface, the show's storyline and success defies conventional wisdom. A 50-year old high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico gets cancer and starts cooking meth to provide for his family...boring. Well as evidenced by the show’s success, on hindsight is not perfect. Too often, we rely on guaranteed proof of a product/project's success before investing. Without gut instinct and vision, there would be no Breaking Bad, so don’t focus too much on numbers when your gut feel tells you the opposite. Taking risks is especially important in the digital marketing space where technologies and metrics are still evolving and the next big thing could come from anywhere.

5. Be patient: With average ratings of just over a million viewers, Breaking Bad was likely to be cancelled after the first season. However, it took a few seasons for the show to catch on and get to a cult-like following. All too often, in marketing we want immediate results with our campaigns or else they’re deemed failures. This is especially true for digital and social media campaigns, where companies are quick to blame the lack of sales on the campaign. Breaking Bad teaches us that every good idea or campaign needs time to generate buzz and build an audience to be successful, which has been demonstrated by campaigns like “The Old Spice Man”.

The show might be over but I believe the marketing and life lessons from the show will linger on. In Walt’s words, “Remember my name” will keep reminding us of them, what we choose to do with them is entirely up to us.

Subscribe to ClickZ Asia to receive your weekly dose of the region's latest trends, tips, and insights straight to your inbox.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!


Mandeep Grover

Mandeep has over thirteen years experience of building brands with blue-chip organizations like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer across FMCG & Medical Device categories. His latest assignment is to launch a newly acquired medical technology start-up business across Asia-Pacific.

Mandeep is a recognized expert in integrating emerging media to drive business results. In 2007, he led the launch of one of the first branded apps on Facebook. The app was a finalist at Cannes and won the highest recognition for marketing excellence in J&J. In 2009, he pioneered the launch of the first iPhone app in J&J, which was featured in the Sydney Morning Herald as an example of innovation.

Mandeep has spoken widely on social media, mobile marketing & multichannel marketing at conferences across Asia-Pacific. He writes regularly for ClickZ and has been a judge for the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Awards for Marketing Excellence.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.


    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Downers GroveWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager...
    • Internet Marketing Specialist
      Internet Marketing Specialist (InteractRV) - DallasInternet Marketing Specialist InteractRV - Anywhere Telecommute, USA SEM | SEO | Content Creator...
    • Tier 1 Support Specialist
      Tier 1 Support Specialist (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreThis position requires a highly motivated and multifaceted individual to contribute to and be...