5 Marketing Lessons from Pirate Movies: Loot All Your Competitors

With the Gasparilla Pirate festival coming this weekend to pillage the city of Tampa, it’s only fitting to talk about pirate movies.

Taranran Taranran Taranran Taranran

If you didn’t remember the Pirates of the Caribbean movie after reading this last paragraph, read it again, but as a song now…

Today we’re going to talk about what Jack Sparrow and other characters from popular pirate movies can teach us about marketing.


 So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Get People Talking About You

In the first movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, there is an interesting dialogue that goes as follows:

You are without a doubt the worst pirate I’ve heard of (James Norrington)

But you have heard of me (Jack Sparrow)

Getting people talking about you is one of the most important things to build your brand. Naturally, you want people talking about you in a positive light. However, you don’t need to be afraid of bad publicity either.

Getting people to talk about you – both positively and negatively – will go a long ways when it comes to building your brand awareness. After all, it’s always better to have people talking about you than have no one talking about you at all. Plus, when people talk badly about your brand, it gives your loyal fans an opportunity to go out and defend you. And who doesn’t love knowing that there are people out there who are willing to go to bat on their behalf?

At the end of the day, your brand is the personality of your business. It’s what makes you truly unique from your competitors. People who love what you are doing will gravitate towards you, and those who don’t will flush themselves out.

And guess what? That’s OK. Your goal shouldn’t be to appease everyone.

2 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Hook People Right at the Beginning

Catching people’s attention early on is imperative to contente marketing success. If you don’t engage people enough for them to keep reading, the rest of your content will be of no use, because no one will read or watch it.

We can see that in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It starts with an interesting opening scene, which is pretty much everything you’d expect from a pirate movie: a mysterious vibe, with the ocean covered in fog, allowing you to see almost nothing. Building upon that, all you can hear is the “yo-ho” song.

This opening scene catches our attention and sets the tone for the story right away.

Applying this to marketing, you should always invest time into creating a great headline, as well as an interesting opening paragraph or intro to your video. Time is a limited commodity. Do you REALLY want to waste it producing content that no one will ever see?

3 – The Princess Bride: Be Yourself

Being yourself is an extremely important part of building your brand and attracting the right types of customers to your business. This advice comes from Fezzick, who states:

People in masks are not to be trusted

(and no, they are not referring to COVID masks)

In marketing, the concept of polarization is still alive and well, and it can easily be applied to brand building. A natural way of being polarizing is by not being afraid to be yourself. So, be bold and be brave by sharing your values, your mission, and what your company stands for… just perhaps not to the extent of the Elon Musk’s and Donald Trump’s of the world, otherwise you run the risk of coming across as crazy and unhinged.

We first heard about this concept from Russell Brunson. The following graph does a really nice job of explaining it.


If you want to attract raving fans to your brand, you need to be yourself and start being a little polarizing.

4 – Blackbeard: Reputation Matters

Blackbeard is one of the most famous pirates in history. What made him so famous was his reputation. So the biggest take away here is that reputation matters… and it matters a lot.

Blackbeard is painted as a violent and dangerous man who committed a lot of violent crimes. However, he wasn’t actually that dangerous as a man. He simply had a REPUTATION for being a dangerous man. And this reputation served him very well.

When Blackbeard approached other ships to loot, people immediately surrendered because they were afraid of him. This means he never needed to put his life, nor the life of his crew, at risk.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable assets you will ever have. In the words of Henry Ford:

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do

Keep in mind, however, that it’s only possible to build your reputation on what you are doing now, and what you’ve already done in the past.

5 – Captain Phillips: Perseverance Leads to Success

Captain Phillips is a merchant marine captain whose ship was captured by pirates. During the movie, we can learn a lot about perseverance and leadership.

One of Captain Phillip’s mantras is, “You’re stronger than you know.”

In the wild and wonderful world of marketing – and in business in general – you need a lot of strength and perseverance to be successful.

In fact, if you read the biography of almost any successful entrepreneur, you’ll find that they had a lot of failures along the way. This is common. The only thing that matters is your ability to persevere and keep going.

For example, maybe you didn’t see great results from your first Facebook ads campaign. All is not lost, since can still use the insights and analytics collected to build a better campaign the second time around.

Or maybe you’ve had abysmal results from your organic SEO efforts on Youtube. That’s not to say that with consistent effort, you won’t start reaping the benefits of that hard work 6 to 12 months from now.

You’ll never know if you don’t keep going.

Patience and perseverance are more important than you might think.

Avast Ye

Listen, we get it: gleaning marketing insights from pirate-themed movies is a little “off.”

But all of the lessons we’ve outlined here are extremely valuable. And if you apply them to your business, marketing will no longer feel overwhelming or scary… or, you know, if we’re keeping with the pirate them, like you’re walking the plank.

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