Marketing – it’s orderly in the textbook, but chaotic in the real world. That’s why you can’t just look at Fortune 500 companies to learn how to run your small business. You need weird marketing tales instead.

Look, I’ll level with you. For all our data and science, our jargon and our methods, marketers all deep down know the same truth. Marketing is part art and part science.

Sometimes we try things and they work. Really well.

And sometimes things go really wrong.

So check out some of these weird stories and you can see how marketing works in the real world.

  • How “Wokeness” Caused A PR Meltdown For M&M’s

    Society is collapsing, and I am writing an article about the politics of M&M’s. Sorry, am I coming on too strong? Maybe – so let’s just get a few things out of the way first. The M&M’s spokescandies aren’t guilty of anything more than having tryhard backstories made by an old brand trying […]

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  • How Unus Annus Succeeded On YouTube By Being Deleted

    What would you do if you had one year left to live? What would you leave behind in memory? These are the questions that Mark Fischbach (Markiplier) and Ethan Nestor-Darling (CrankGameplays) asked their viewers when they created the channel, Unus Annus. The idea was simple: every day they would post […]

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  • Wall Drug, Or: How To Make Something Out Of Nothing

    If you cruise along I-90 in South Dakota for long enough, two thoughts will cross your mind. First, “could this road be any more boring?” And second, “good God, how many Wall Drug signs are there?” Over 300. And that’s just the official ones found in South Dakota, Wyoming, and […]

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  • How Ding Zheng Can Make A Sale With Rap

    In 16 bars, Ding Zheng can land you a sale. It’s true. They don’t call him the Sales Rapper for nothing! Turns out, rap music can actually be used to win clients for businesses, often to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. You can learn more […]

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  • This Is Why Buying Furniture In 2023 Is Actually Preposterous

    Nothing says “I’m about to be 30” like buying furniture by the truckload. It seems like every day, I’ve got a shipment coming in from IKEA or Wayfair. From big box chains to scratch and dent stores, the sales staff know my face. And it got me wondering: why is […]

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  • Why Arcane is The Perfect Brand Expansion

    You have probably heard of the popular video game, League of Legends. At a minimum, you’ve heard the distant screams of someone losing a match. It’s unavoidable because League It is an insanely popular game with a mountain of dedicated players willing to buy figurines and other merchandise. But have […]

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  • How On Earth Do You Make Kansas Look Attractive?

    Here’s a marketing challenge for you. How do you take the 50th most beautiful state in America and turn it into a tourist destination? What can you say to compel people to appreciate the rolling plains and immense cornfields of Kansas? It’s a tricky marketing challenge, but the stakes are […]

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  • This Is What Marketing Looked Like For Each Generation (Then & Now)

    Marketing has existed since the dawn of time. It’s just changed with each generation.  OK, that’s a bit dramatic. But one could argue that it has been around since people started hocking goods at one another. After all, word of mouth is an early form of marketing (and the bedrock […]

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  • Ya Boy Kongming: A Crash Course in Social Media Marketing

    What do ancient military tactics and social media marketing have in common? Apparently a lot, according to anime Ya Boy Kongming. You might be surprised to know how much, in fact, as both have been refined and honed over years (or millennia) for maximum effectiveness. Ya Boy Kongming is a […]

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  • This Is Why Red Delicious Apples Are Terrible But Popular

    Imagine biting into a beautiful dark red apple. It looks so appetizing, resplendent in color, and free from bruises and imperfections. But upon biting down, you find the skin crumbly and coarse and the inside somehow mushy and flavorless. Congratulations – you’ve just eaten a Red Delicious apple! Guess what? […]

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  • How Dinosaurs Made Me Love Best Western Hotels

    If you told me I was going to sleep in a Best Western and like it, I’d probably have laughed. Why do I say this? Well, you know how you’re little and you just accept whatever is placed before you?   “Santa bought the same wrapping paper as Mommy this year.” […]

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  • Why Formula 1 is So Popular Right Now

    Watch video version on YouTube. Every nation has its great past-time. For the USA, it’s baseball. For the UK, it’s football (soccer). Getting people to pay attention to a new sport is a tall order – and that’s why Formula 1’s recent success is so stunning. On ESPN, 548,000 people […]

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  • Ticketmaster, Or: How To Fail Every Marketing Class (& Every Swiftie)

    It’s me. Hi. I’m mad at Ticketmaster. It’s me.  That’s right – Swiftie Maria is back again, here to bring you a marketing breakdown of how Ticketmaster failed Swifties, its customers, the world, and every basic marketing class ever taught. If you’ve followed the news recently, you’ve probably heard about […]

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  • Why Game Theory Took Over YouTube & Why It’s Now In Decline

    “But hey, that’s just a theory, a game theory!” If you were on YouTube 10 years ago, or if you’re a part of the gaming community on YouTube now, you know this phrase. It’s the really widely recognized catchphrase coined by famous YouTuber, MatPat, who said it with gusto at […]

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  • This is How Critical Role Made Dungeons & Dragons Cool

    What happens when you gather a bunch of nerdy voice actors and one badass Dungeon Master, then have them all roll a natural 20 in showmanship? You get Critical Role, the show that has made over $9 million dollars playing Dungeons & Dragons on Twitch alone. (A shocking statistic, since […]

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  • How Steve Harvey Got Popular & Won the Hearts of Millions

    Auto mechanic. Boxer. Insurance salesman. Carpet cleaner. Letter carrier. These are just a handful of the odd jobs that Steve Harvey, the famous comedian, and host of Family Feud, worked before he became a household name. It’s a pretty amazing resume! Before Steve Harvey became famous, he had been homeless […]

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  • This Is Why Black Friday Sales Are A Thing

    Almost 85 million shoppers. That’s how many people poured into retail stores across the United States on Black Friday 2019. Americans everywhere barreled into department stores to snatch up the best deals like lions taking down prey in the single busiest shopping day of the year. Indeed, it may have […]

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  • This Is Why Bob Ross Is Still Relevant Even Now

    “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.” These are the words of Bob Ross, arguably the most recognizable painter in the United States. It’s an astounding accomplishment to become as popular as Bob Ross, the host of The Joy of Painting, a PBS show that ran from 1983 […]

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  • How The Great Milk Industry Went Down The Drain

    Do you remember in your childhood, when there was always milk in the fridge? You could always add it to a bowl of overly sugared cereal. You could find it with every school lunch, where you’d inevitably get a carton. Pretty much every American over 20 knows exactly what I’m […]

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  • How Losing Millions Of Dollars Made Mattress Mack Famous

    If you’re a sports fan, you probably know Jim McIngvale. But you probably don’t know him by that name. You know him as “Mattress Mack.” He sells mattresses for a living, but you don’t know him for his bedding. You know him for his betting. Never heard of him? Still […]

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  • How Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary Became A Tourist Trap

    Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was not a place you wanted to live. Until 2009, it was home to the hardest, worst criminals in the southeast, including the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr. In this nightmare of concrete and steel in the middle of the impassible, god-forsaken mountains of […]

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  • Why Fantasy Football Is A 20 Billion Dollar Industry

    The game is a fantasy, but the money is all real.  “Maria, can I come over and borrow some movies? Your father is going to be busy all week with fantasy football drafts.”  It’s that time of the year. The season of crunchy leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and football. But […]

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  • How Chainsaw Man Will Tear Up The Anime World

    Chainsaw Man. It sounds like a cheesy horror film you would get from B-movie Hollywood, but it’s far from that. In fact, Chainsaw Man is a Japanese manga that is getting a full-blooded anime adaptation this October. The anime community is as hyped-up as the torque on those blades. The […]

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  • How BTS (& K-pop) Grew So Enormous In The West

    To say that Bangtan Soneyondan – better known as BTS – is a popular band is a massive understatement. In the US alone, BTS has landed 26 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, 6 of which soared all the way up to #1, with one song (Butter), managing to stay […]

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  • Stop Blaming The Algorithm When Your Content Doesn’t Rank

    You know what drives me nuts? People who blame “the algorithm” when their content doesn’t take off. Now I know that sounds like a personal attack, but I don’t mean it that way. Content creators who blame the algorithm are, for the most part, not lazy or even bad content […]

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  • How To Navigate The Labyrinth Of The YouTube Algorithm

    The YouTube algorithm. Never before has there been such a complicated labyrinth for content creators to navigate. It doesn’t help that there’s no exit. Every social media platform uses an algorithm to decide what to show users. There’s too much content not to. As much as I’d love to write […]

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  • This Is How The Vlogbrothers Built A Super-Friendly Empire

    On the first day of 2007, John and Hank Green started Brotherhood 2.0. The idea was simple – send each other video blogs back and forth every day for a year. The mission was simple but heartfelt: deepen their bond through the power of new media. When the year ended, […]

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  • How IKEA Makes $43.6 Billion While You Build Furniture

    If you’ve been to IKEA, then you have a strong opinion on it. It’s impossible not to. IKEA stores are five times the size of a football field, arranged like dense mazes with thousands of furniture items all available for reasonable prices. Everything from the quirky Swedish names of the […]

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  • 8 Reasons Why Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets Are Amazing Marketing

    Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is a chaotic, absurd movie. The 1971 version seemed to run all the time on TV in the 1990s and 2000s, becoming – against all odds – a staple of Millenial culture, even getting turned into a popular meme. Because we’ve all seen it […]

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  • This is How Critical Role Made Dungeons & Dragons Cool

    What happens when you gather a bunch of nerdy voice actors and one badass Dungeon Master, then have them all roll a natural 20 in showmanship? You get Critical Role, the show that has made over $9 million dollars playing Dungeons & Dragons on Twitch alone. (A shocking statistic, since […]

    Read More

  • How To Prepare Your Business for AI (GPT-3 & Midjourney)

    The machines are taking over! AI is going to replace us all! If I only had a dollar for every time I heard some version of that. Even in its early stages, artificial intelligence, or AI, feels like an imminent threat. After all, intelligence is what has truly set human […]

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  • Why People Are Adding REDDIT To Their Google Searches

    Have Google searches felt…off to you lately? A lot of people think so, and you likely know someone who adds the word “Reddit” to the end of Google searches to get better results. Just look at some of these recent headlines: Fast Company: Is Reddit a better search engine than […]

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  • How Gaming Supplements Like GamerSupps & G FUEL Make Millions

    Gam·​ers | ˈgā-mərs (noun): a subcategory of the species Homo sapiens that sits upon gaming chairs of varying colors and sizes. They are known for playing games for hours on end, often into the dead of night. Due to this, gamers are often deficient in vital vitamins and minerals needed so desperately […]

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  • What Middle Class Fancy Tells Us About Consumer Behavior

    “It’s not the heat that’ll get you, it’s the humidity.” Such are the words of wisdom spoken by Rand, an American suburban white man in his 50s, and a recurring character on the Middle Class Fancy Instagram account. In addition to being an accurate statement about how we perceive temperature, […]

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  • 6 Reasons to Treat Your Business Like Wikipedia

    Reasons for hope seem to be in short supply these days. Politics are a mess, everything is getting expensive, and the modern internet built on social media seems to only inflame these tensions. Yet there is a website where people put aside their differences and work toward a common goal […]

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  • Marketing Alignment Chart: Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil

    In 1977, Dungeons & Dragons created the alignment chart – a simple two-axis where characters could be classified as good or evil, lawful or chaotic. Sometime in the 2010s, the idea of the alignment chart went far beyond its gaming origins, and became a piece of pop culture in its […]

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  • How RollerCoaster Tycoon Made $19.6 Million in 1999

    In 1999, Scottish video game developer, Chris Sawyer, chased a pipe dream. He was fascinated by amusement parks, and he wanted to create a game that captured the joy of being in one. Despite the fact that there wasn’t clear market demand for it, he went on to create RollerCoaster […]

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  • How Karen’s Diner Serves Up Awful Customer Service & Makes Millions

    Do you dream of being a massive jerk to people around you? Well, of course, you do. We have all had moments where you want to speak your mind or simply get stuff off your chest because you had a crap day. Thankfully, there is a magical place where you […]

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  • How on Earth is SpongeBob SquarePants Still Relevant in 2022?

    If you spend any amount of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit, odds are, you’re going to run into at least one of these SpongeBob memes. These memes along with the fact that search engine traffic for SpongeBob SquarePants has slowly but steadily increased for the last few years […]

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  • 5 Practical Lessons from the Absurd Career of Sam Raimi

    Ever try to get away to a quiet cabin in the country, only to have to fight with your demon-possessed hand as the house itself laughs at you? Well, I hope you brought along a double-barrelled shotgun and a chainsaw, buddy, because you – unfortunately – are in a Sam […]

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  • Daft Punk, or: Building a Massive Brand by Anti-Marketing

    Imagine building one of the most culturally significant bands of the 21st century. Now imagine doing that while experimenting radically in a genre where copying others is a proven path to success. While never showing your face. Daft Punk did just that, and their success has been remarkable. Their sophomore […]

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  • How Fortnite Weaves Brands Into The Game & Makes Billions

    Fancy vacationing on a cartoon island dressed as John Wick? What if I told you that you’d have to fight with Spiderman with a lightsaber and Ariana Grande with a grenade launcher? Well, you are in luck, because Fortnite is the getaway you’ve been looking for. Fortnite is packed with […]

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  • How The Room Made $30 Million by Being a Terrible Movie

    Released in 2003, The Room is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made. It holds a score of 3.7 out of 10 on IMDb and an astounding 9 out of 100 on Metacritic. Film critic, Marg Mohan, claimed that the film “oozes sincerity, which is then […]

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  • How Coffee Transformed From Common Commodity To Weird Hobby

    Of all the meetings, I have, my morning meeting with Mr. Cup Of Joe is the one I never miss. It’s a warm welcome to the morning and has always been a delicious and dopamine-inducing way to start the day. I am talking about coffee – a staple of modern […]

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  • How Costco Manages to Be Both Classy & Cheap

    In a logical world, Costco would suck. Low prices, spartan settings, and immense crowds. That’s an unholy trinity that should ruin just about any shopping experience. But it doesn’t, and I think that’s remarkable. Costco is a freakishly well-run business. Over the last weekend, I slipped into the store by […]

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  • The Twisted Reasons for Freight Shipping Delays & Shortages

    Have you seen the images of empty store shelves lately? They’re all over social media and the news. You might think that it’s the result of people panic buying, but the problems run deeper than that. Maybe you’ve seen some terms like “supply chain disruption” or even “supply chain collapse” […]

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  • To Understand the Metaverse, Look at Minecraft & Fortnite

    Metaverse. Web3. NFT. The year 2021 introduced the world to a lot of really complicated new technological ideas. In February and March 2021, people started talking about NFTs. Then chatter about the “metaverse” started to really take off in October, right around when Facebook changed its name to Meta. A […]

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  • How to Sell the Bubble Bots from Ron’s Gone Wrong

    Ron’s Gone Wrong is a film about the friendship between socially awkward middle-schooler, Barney, and his friend Ron. But there’s a twist: Ron is a Bubble Bot, produced by the Bubble Company, which is basically Apple. Bubble Bots, B Bots for short, are designed to be your best friend. Your […]

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  • How to Be a Wrestler, According to a Marketer

    Wrestlers put their life on the line in the ring, day in, day out to make their audiences happy. They live larger-than-life lifestyles because they want to make captivating TV with their stunning wrestling moves. They’re experts at self-promotion because they want to make you buy into the kayfabe of […]

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  • How James Bond Has Evolved & Stayed Relevant for 60 Years

    Few movie characters are as iconic, controversial, contradictory, and enduring as James Bond. It doesn’t matter who’s playing him because you recognize the character immediately. Handsome man, sharp suit, smoking gun, vodka martini in hand, and an attractive woman on his arm. James Bond has been the poster child for […]

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  • How Taylor Swift Took on the Music Industry & Won

    Taylor Swift might not have a college degree, but she has been working on her Master’s in Marketing since she was nine. And when I say “you could argue” I mean “that is what I’m going to spend the next 5,000 words pointing out.”  Swift has been the driving force […]

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  • See How A Rambling Redhead Went From Instagram to HGTV

    Redheads only make up 2% of the world’s population. And the recessive gene jackpot of a redhead with blue eyes is even smaller, at 0.17%. So what would you call someone with red hair, blue eyes, and a hilarious heart of gold? You might call her a Unicorn, but we […]

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  • WWE vs. AEW: The Wrestling Brand Smackdown of a Lifetime

    John Cena. The Rock. Hulk Hogan. The world of wrestling has cemented these names into the minds of kids and adults alike. Their names are known worldwide as are their spider webs of wrestling moments, movies, and controversies. If you pay attention, the wrestling world will teach you a masterclass […]

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  • 4 Marketing Lessons from Jingle All The Way

    What do Christmas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and action figures have in common? If you guessed Star-Lord (or even The Terminator for us older peeps), you are only half wrong. The real answer is the “classic” Christmas Movie Jingle All The Way. Totally recommend watching it if you haven’t already. But for […]

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  • How Old Spice Came Back from the Grave with One Commercial

    Hello, ladies. Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me.  With just 43 words, Old Spice did […]

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  • Millennials Spend $33 Billion On Their Own Toys. Why?

    We all have fond memories of playing with toys when we were young. Whether it’s trading Pokemon cards or snuggling a favorite stuffed animal, it’s hard not to have at least one happy childhood toy story. Toys have been in the hearts and homes of kids for decades, centuries, even! […]

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  • This is How Buc-ee’s Turned Gas Stations into Tourist Traps

    “If you know you know.” So said the billboard in yellow block capitals on a stark black background as I was passing through my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was advertising Buc-ee’s, a gas station about an hour away. Weird marketing move, I thought, but only briefly. I’m no stranger […]

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  • This Is Why People Find Super Mario 64 Conspiracies Scary

    Did you know every copy of Super Mario 64 is personalized? Well, at least that’s the theory. It’s said that even back in 1996, Nintendo was able to create an AI that adapted to a player’s skill level, playstyle, and even desires. It’s so subtle you’d never notice it, until […]

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  • See How Cult Classic Movies Teach Us About Branding

    Do you have a favorite movie that not many people have heard of? Or do you go to a coffee shop that you wouldn’t substitute for anything else? Or, perhaps, do you have a favorite product your rave about to everyone you meet? Well, you might be in a cult […]

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  • See How Peter Thiel Destroyed Gawker with Hulk Hogan

    Facing a $140 million legal judgment, the leaders of Gawker had to face their sins. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to out billionaire Peter Thiel as gay in 2007. And maybe the world would have been a better place if they hadn’t released Hulk Hogan’s…private film in 2012. But […]

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Think marketing is confusing as hell? You're not alone.

Join over 1,000 other confused, but curious folks. Download Weird Marketing's FREE Experimental Marketing Guide.