What did you do for the 4th of July weekend?
I stayed home and wrote book reports.
If that sounds like either a fabrication or a miserable way to spend a weekend, you don’t know me very well. I wrote 22 long-hand entries in my book report journal ranging from a couple of sentences to a couple of pages, and there’s one book that was especially fitting to share in this missive:
All About Me! — the recent Mel Brooks autobiography.
The most pertinent story in the book for the ad industry describes a time when advertising worked too well, so I’ll quote the passage at length:
“The Admiral Broadway Revue ran only 19 weeks from January 28 to June 3, 1949, and was not renewed. I was perplexed. I knew the show which appeared on two networks at the same time… was getting very good ratings and was really popular. And then, I discovered the reason. The show was so popular that Admiral could not keep up with the demand for television sets that the program generated! When the show first began, Admiral had been producing 50 to 100 sets a week and selling the same number. The popularity of the show caused business to pick up and within months, orders skyrocketed to 5,000 sets a day. They were way beyond what they could produce. The company was faced with a choice. It could continue to sponsor the show, or it could take that money and build a new factory. They chose the latter. Bizarrely enough, the Admiral Broadway Revue was and is probably the only show in history to be canceled because it was too successful.”
What if that was every marketer’s goal?
“I want to make your ads so successful that you won’t be able to advertise with us anymore.”
What if that was what agencies offered in a pitch?
“We won’t stop thinking about ways to make your ads work so well that they might put you out of business.”
I’m a big fan of underpromising and overdelivering; anyone whose headstone has the words “underpromised and overdelivered” on it made the most of their years. But sometimes, we push too hard down that path and forget about the moonshots.
In All About Me!, Brooks reminds us about how many chances he took — how many times he did something that had never been done before. And that’s a big reason why we should value not just his work but his story.
One other story stood out — this one is from when Brooks was adapting The Producers from film to Broadway, collaborating with book writer Tom Meehan, among others.
He described his experience in staging the backers’ audition:
“The backers’ audition is where you play a staged piano reading of the show in order to get the money people interested in investing in it… We gave the world its first glimpse of a brand new musical comedy called The Producers… the backers’ audition went beyond our wildest dreams. At the end of the first act, our audience broke into cheers and applause…”
One of the backers offered him the renowned St. James Theatre before the second act even started.
Brooks continued, “I said, ‘It’s too good to be true!’ Then Tom brought me down to earth. He said, ‘Never go by the reaction of an audience that consists of family and friends and especially people that haven’t paid to get in.’ That is one of the most important rules of the theater.”
That struck me as a good rule for marketers too.
We’re often judging the reactions of people in the room that are not those who’d pay for what’s promoted in our campaigns. They’re not the ones who matter.
Beyond that though, most people watching ads don’t pay with money but with time. They’re paying with their 5 or 10 or 30 seconds. That’s worth something. They’re paying to get in. They matter.
There’s one final lesson from the book that you may find relatable.
It’s not from any one passage. It’s from the whole book. At the risk of using what I just found out is one of Lindsay‘s least favorite words, it’s a vibe.
I listened to the book on Audible, and it’s worth it just to hear how much joy Brooks got out of making even his less memorable films. As Brooks tells his life’s story, you can wind up thinking Robin Hood: Men in Tights will be airing on TCM right after Citizen Kane.
It never feels like he’s bragging. He’s going out of his way to credit collaborators on every page, including administrative staff and other behind-the-scenes talent.
But he does have a ton of pride in everything he’s done. And yeah, everything.
What’s the last thing you worked on?
It doesn’t matter if you won the pitch or got the job or did everything you hoped that piece of work would accomplish.
Is there something in there that you can take pride in?
What’s one moment from the process that gave you joy?
Mel may not be a mortal like most of us, but I wouldn’t mind trying to be a little more like him — if only just that way.
Have a joyful end of your week.
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Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. Better yet, subscribe to get updates from our job listing board. Here are some great opportunities shared in these places or sent to me directly.
Senior Manager, Content Marketing
Via Mack in the community
“We’re looking for an accomplished Senior Content Marketing Manager to join our growing team. You’ll apply your content creation expertise to tech companies across various sectors, such as Adtech, Martech, Edtech, Fintech, Retailtech, and eCommerce. But this is not a technical writing job—it’s a dynamic, highly-visible, client-facing position. On the creative side, you’ll develop content that effectively positions clients where they want to be in the marketplace. On the tactical side, you’ll need to be comfortable shifting focus and style from project to project or client to client. The successful candidate will be both an exceptional wordsmith and an organized, detail-oriented marketing professional. Since this is a newly created role, we’re excited to see the range of ideas and skills you bring to the position.”
Director of Growth
Los Angeles, CA
“The Director of Growth will manage our customer acquisition strategy and roadmap across several channels. You’ll track metrics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to make sure we are hitting targets, while also learning what works for our brand along the way. This is an opportunity to continue to build and scale a much-loved brand and company. With an established brand and high organic growth, we’re looking for a growth marketer who wants to both drive strategy and get in the weeds in managing some channels directly. The role will have significant autonomy, budget, and support.”
Director of Product (Digital)
“The Director of Product will own the strategy and roadmap for our DTC website. This role will be highly collaborative, managing all the technical, creative, design, testing, and data work that goes along with owning a successful eCommerce store. The ideal candidate can synthetically blend between analytical data-driven decision making and the insights from a qualitative user interview, thinking holistically about solving customer needs and prioritizing efforts where it matters most to the user and the business. You are as comfortable conceptualizing a new product or feature, as you are weighing the customer, business, and engineering needs. You are highly detail-oriented and know that can make or break a product experience, but can always hold the broader brand and business story alive and in mind as you execute on the finer details.”
“Working directly with the founding CEO and CTO, you’ll be the first operations hire ready to help build a top-notch consumer and supplier experience. This is a critical early hire to help establish the right rhythm and operations to deliver amazing services to our homeowner members as well as build out our exclusive network of service providers from onboarding through their lifetime with Onder. About You: You thrive in early-stage ambiguity and turn the chaos into order. No job is too small or too large. You like to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. You care deeply about creating consumer-centric experiences and figuring out how technology can improve peoples lives.”
Also, check out the Serial Marketers job board.
Other job resources (see a full list here):
- Beeler.Tech: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
- Braintrust: A freelance platform where you are the owner and where freelance talent keeps 100% of the bill rate.
- Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you’re okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet.
- Candidate: Featured marketing and sales jobs
- Creative Women of Color: List yourself in the database and find talent, via Women Who Create
- ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
- Gently Ventures: Helps scale businesses by finding the right talent
- Growth Collective: Apply to join this network of notable freelance marketers
- Hearty: Get recommended by peers and be discovered
- Hue: Amplifying voices of people in color working in marketing
- Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
- NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
- #OpenToWork: There’s a channel in Serial Marketers where you can share what you’re looking for
- Pocit: A platform connecting people of color with jobs in the tech industry
- Questions to Ask for a Marketing Role: What questions should you ask when starting a new marketing role or job?
- Serial Marketers Job Board: Post regular and featured listings and subscribe for updates.
- VC Job Boards: Aleph, Eniac Ventures, Pear, Sequoia, Union Square Ventures
- Venwise: Submit your job interests here and get in front of their roster of hiring leads; select “Serial Marketers” under “How did you find us”
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