If you haven’t watched this film before — or if your memory is a bit rusty — here are the main points:

A group of boys meet at their all-boys preparatory school and bond over the pressures that they face from their parents to succeed. The group soon learns that they also have a new English teacher who was a former student. The friends’ lives are changed through the lessons that the individual teaches them, which includes taking the opportunity to pursue their dreams and be true to themselves.

Part of the reason as to why this film was such a big hit is because of the relevance it has shown throughout the years — making it a timeless favourite that continues to inspire.

So, how can this film in particular offer inspiration and provide tips to marketers?

Let’s find out how marketers can break the status quo:

Lesson 1: Marketers should seize the day

During the first lesson, Mr Keating, the eccentric teacher (played by Robin Williams), starts his lesson by quoting the first line of the infamous poem O captain! My Captain by Walt Whitman. He takes this opportunity to introduce himself in this strange way, addressing the fact that he is also an old student. The scene ends with Keating whispering to the class “Carpe Diem”.

The take away from this lesson was that they boys needed to seize the day — or rather, their opportunity to make their lives great.

Marketers need to be on the lookout for opportunities and seize their moments. This is all about finding new ideas and taking a chance with them. These ideas can then be used to make a wonderful new ad campaign, or found a new business venture. Thus, marketing professionals need to always be aware of new opportunities and not be afraid to seize them.


Lesson 2: Marketers should stand on their desks

Another iconic scene from the film is one where Mr Keating climbs onto his desk and then encourages the students to do the same. Why, you ask? Well, as Mr Keating said, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a new way.”

His method in this ‘madness’ is that people sometimes need a new perspective, especially if they want to find their unique voice.

Marketers need to practice having a new perspective to approach their tasks with a fresh view — like in their campaign ideas, for example. In a world that’s saturated with information about everything, new ideas are a much welcomed breath of fresh air.

Additionally, having a unique and creative approach can help make your marketing agency stand out above the sea of agencies within your industry. This might encourage brands to bring their business to your agency specifically. Companies will appreciate these unique approaches and thinking out of the box. So, be sure to stand on your desk and look at the world with a different view!

Lesson 3: Marketers should use language for what it was made for

One of the underlying themes of the film is the love of language and literature. Poems and quotes are continuously used to teach the students important life lessons.

One such lesson is that poetry is read and written because we are members of the human race. The takeaway here is that, as humans, we use language for more than just communication. We use it to convey emotion.

As a marketer, it is your duty to ensure that you connect the brand with its audience. Part of this means that marketers need to show the human side of a brand and connect through emotion.


Lesson 4: Marketers, don’t conform

Being more of a practical exercise, the film shows a scene where the boys have an English lesson in the courtyard. Mr Keating demonstrates his point that it’s easy for humans to fall into the rhythm of what society expects.

The point of this was that the teacher wanted the scholars to understand that they need to march to the beat of their own drum — not to what the school or their parents expected of them.

For marketers, this means that they need to ensure their client’s brand messages remain true to who they are as a business. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of what other brands are doing. But remember, loyal clients come back because of the relationship and the trust that they built through getting to know a specific brand. In all marketing efforts, marketers need to reflect that.


What lesson did you learn from your favourite film? Let us know in the comments below.

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Do you enjoy marketing lessons from pop culture? Then check out these Three lessons marketers can learn from Star Wars.
*Image courtesy of Canva