NBC’s Community is about a motley study group at Greendale Community College. The school is run by Dean Pelton – a lively, enthusiastic character who loves his job and cross-dressing maybe a little bit too much. Dean Pelton goes to extraordinary lengths to prove that Greendale is just as credible and valuable as any other university (specifically Greendale’s rival, City College). Most of the attempts he makes are spot-on marketing ideas, but they just miss the mark on the follow-through.
The best way to learn anything is by learning from other people’s (and sometimes your own) mistakes. Dean Pelton made plenty of marketing mistakes, had a couple of successes, and all of them hold valuable lessons for you and your brand!
Branding: Finding the Right Mascot — Branding is the most important aspect of marketing. You have to create a brand aesthetic, image, and voice in order to be remembered. One way that the dean attempts to build excitement about Greendale is by creating a new outfit for their mascot, the Human Beings. The dean collaborates with Pierce Hawthorne to create an entirely race and gender neutral mascot to represent all human beings. The result? Completely terrifying, but certainly unique and memorable. You can get a look at Greendale’s mascot in the video below.
“Celebrity” Endorsements — Once you’ve established your brand, your next task is to get the word out. Local and famous celebrities can work wonders for your brand. If people see their favorite trusted celebrity supporting your company, they will be more likely to invest in your brand. The dean planned to attract some positive attention to Greendale by recruiting high school football star, Troy Barnes, to join Greendale’s football team. By getting a local “celebrity” on the team, the dean hopes to get some press coverage, which would in turn create some hype around the community college and encourage more students to enroll. This was one of the few marketing schemes employed by Dean Pelton that didn’t end in disaster.
Promotional Products — Promotional products are proven to create lasting brand impressions. A clever, useful gift is guaranteed to get people talking. Even Dean Pelton uses promotional products! The Dean hosts an STD fair, and in order to promote the school he orders custom condoms that say, “Greendale!” Sounds like a spot-on idea, right? Well, it would be…if he had gotten the imprint on the wrapper, and not on the actual condom. But unfortunately that was not the case, and when the students began using the condoms as water balloons they discovered that the condoms all had holes in the exclamation point of the imprint – Woops! Be smart with your imprints to ensure that you get the most brand impressions for your buck.
Events — Organized events are a great way to create a sense of community among your customers, employees, or students. Dean Pelton organizes campus events frequently to build excitement around the school. He organizes dances for Valentine’s Day and parties for Halloween, concerts by Greene Day (not to be confused with Green Day, even though the Dean does) and Toni Braxton, and campus-wide paintball tournaments. Unfortunately for the dean, most of his events end up in some sort of debacle, but that just makes them all the more memorable! Hopefully your events will go without a hitch, but it should be comforting to know that there is still hope even if something does go wrong.
Imagine how much more popular Greendale would be if all of the dean’s efforts didn’t end in chaos! Any of Dean Pelton’s strategies would be a surefire way to promote your brand – you just have to be a little more thoughtful than he was in executing them.
Do you watch Community? Can you think of any other failed or successful marketing tactics employed by Greendale’s Dean? What other marketing campaigns do you think should he try in the future?