5 Marketing Lessons from Spinal Tap

Modern Marketing


“This Is Spinal Tap” is a 1984 rock and roll musical “mockumentary” directed by Rob Reiner about the fictional heavy metal music band Spinal Tap. The movie satirizes the wild behavior and musical pretensions of hard rock and heavy metal musicians. It’s filled with pitch-perfect one liners from the band and cast of characters as they tour America and prepare for the release of their comeback record. It’s clearly not to be taken seriously, but one cannot deny that with a bit of creative thinking there are some very useful lessons learned for modern marketers.

As a huge fan and someone who has seen this movie over a dozen times, I present to you five marketing lessons from the word’s loudest band. In the words of film maker Marty DeBergi, “Enough of my yakkin’. Whaddaya say, let’ boogie!”

“There’s Such a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever

This is some of the best advice anyone could ever give a marketer. We have all seen examples of this from Kenneth Cole comparing their Spring Line to the uprising in a foreign country, to companies offering up their ebooks for “reading material during Hurricane Sandy”. How can you as a marketers avoid these types of blunders? With sound advice from David St. Hubins:

“If We Need that Extra Push, We Go to Eleven”

Nigel Tufnel is known quite famously for his signature guitar amplifier that “goes to eleven”. His reasoning behind it? “Well it’s one louder now isn’t it.” As a marketer trying to break through the everyday clutter of monotonous content and a terribly over-crowded social space, the key is to make sure your marketing is unique enough to stand out from the noise.

“Hello Cleveland!”

The band famously gets lost backstage while trying to locate the stage door to the theater in Cleveland. Although they find help along the way, they get frustrated and lose the excitement they had earlier for wanting to give this crowd a full on rock-n-roll show. What is the lesson to be learned? Don’t lose your cool when faced with the many obstacles that modern marketers have to deal with today. And make sure to stay positive.

“None more Black”

When the band receives copies of their new album they are disappointed to find a very dismal and unappealing album cover. As a marketer, it’s important to think about your content in this sense. Is the content you are producing well represented of your branding and your messaging? Are there visual elements that can break through the white noise of social media and cluttered email box?

Know Your Measurements

A simple miscalculation from guitarist Nigel Tufnel, leads to the band performing on stage with a Stonehenge prop that is 18 inches high instead of 18 feet. This turns out to “understate the hugeness of the object”. As a modern marketer you have more tools at your fingertips than ever before helping you to measure and quantify the success of your campaigns. The important thing to remember is to have your measurements right, and report the metrics that matter across your organization.