Avast, ye scurvy swabs! Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday for landlubbers and seadogs alike. Ye don’t have to send cards or give gifts — just use your best nautical lingo and don’t forget the ARRRRs!
Talk Like a Pirate Day was first celebrated in 1995, but gained popularity online in the 2010s. It’s a good opportunity to be a little silly, watch some great movies, and maybe even learn a few pointers to guide your B2B marketing.
So batten the hatches, hoist up the mizzenmast, and shiver your timbers: Here are five lessons you can learn from pirate movies.
Imagine you’re making a pirate movie, and your lead pirate shows up on set doing a weird, quasi-Irish accent, complete with outlandish gestures and mannerisms. I’m not talking about Johnny Depp — I’m talking about Robert Newton in Disney’s Treasure Island.
Newton’s unconventional performance is the reason the stereotypical ‘pirate accent,’ and therefore Talk Like a Pirate Day, exists. It’s all there, from the ARRRs to the ye’s and be’s.
I recently had the privilege of seeing the wonderfully smart and engaging Sally Hogshead speak about what makes a brand memorable. Her tagline: “Different is better than better.” In other words, don’t just strive to be better than the competition — that’s a neverending struggle for dominance. Instead, look for what makes you different, accentuate that difference, embrace it and commit to it.
Robert Newton created a timeless archetype because he committed to being different. What could your brand do if you did the same?
Now let’s talk about the other weird pirate with even more strange affectations: Captain Jack Sparrow. He’s regarded as a joke by most of the crew, even if they wouldn’t say so to his face. He arrives in port on a sinking ship, walks like he’s more than three sheets to the wind, and greets the world with a befuddled squint.
However, underneath it all, Captain Jack is a heck of a pirate. He’s great with a sword, can think on his feet, and manages to stay one step ahead of an entire navy out for his blood. Jack isn’t a memorable character because he’s weird. He’s a memorable character because he’s weird and very very good at his job.
As B2B content becomes more creative, marketers have the opportunity to be unconventional, even a little weird, in their quest to earn attention. But as we do, let’s remember what Captain Jack taught us: You can be unconventional, but you have to get the job done, too.
The Muppets have proven themselves to be versatile performers over the years. They’ve starred in crime capers, sci-fi movies, a gritty reboot, and a very silly sequel to the gritty reboot. But when it came time to make Treasure Island, the creative team behind the Muppets left nothing to chance. They brought in a few heavy hitters to round out the cast.
Billy Connolly kicks things off as Billy Bones, bellowing and chewing scenery. Then Tim Curry’s Long John Silver takes the stage and carries the rest of the movie. He gets Long John’s menace and charisma just right — it’s hard to imagine Kermit the Frog pulling off the role.
B2B content marketers shouldn’t go it alone, either. Tapping industry experts and influencers for your content can increase your credibility, broaden your audience, and create lasting partnerships to make cool stuff. Our latest B2B influencer marketing report shows just how effective it can be to bring in new voices to your content.
There are plenty of wonderful lessons to learn from the Princess Bride, of course. The power of romantic love, the unbreakable bonds of familial love, to never go up against a Sicilian when lives are on the line… it’s a very educational movie.
For marketers, however, the most important is the power of storytelling. The entire movie is a story about princesses and princes, wrapped in a story about a grandfather and his grandson.
Within the movie, we get more stories, particularly the legend of the Dread Pirate Roberts. This fearsome, mysterious masked man is more than a mere mortal; he’s a story. He can live forever, so long as there are people willing to take up the mask, and people to tell the tales of his mighty deeds.
At the heart of it, what is a brand but an ongoing story that marketers tell? If you want to keep your audience spellbound, follow the Princess Bride’s lead: Make it a human, warm, funny, and empathetic story. Tell your audience not just what they already know they like, but what they need to hear as well.
If you get tired of old wooden pirate ships sailing the seven seas, why not take the swashbuckling adventure to outer space? Treasure Planet takes a classic tale and turns it sci-fi, giving Long John Silver a bionic leg, adding robots and rayguns, and letting its characters sail on the solar winds.
The movie may not be an unassailable classic, but the change of venue unlocked new possibilities for the story and some truly awe-inspiring visuals:
If your brand feels stuck telling the same stories over and over again, think of how you can take it to space — or beyond. As long as you keep the empathy and humanity, your audience will be eager to go on a new flight of fancy.
I get it: Talk Like a Pirate Day is really silly. But I don’t know a single marketer who couldn’t benefit from a little more silliness. You don’t have to call your co-workers scurvy dogs or landlubbers today, but take some time to ponder how your brand can be more creative and compelling.
Need help plotting a course to next-level content? Contact us today, me hearties.