By Joseph Kalinowski published July 6, 2012

Content Marketing Lessons from Ferris Bueller and Silent Bob

content marketing lessons from ferris bueller, CMII just got home from a nice week-long, off-the-grid vacation with the family. Every year I take a little time to prop myself up by the lake for some fishing, reading, a few cold ones, and general laziness. This year’s vacation reading list included a couple magazines, a couple eBooks, and “Tough Sh*t. Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good,” by Kevin Smith. 

Smith’s book is a great read, especially for those who appreciate his humor. Those of you who attended Content Marketing World last year had the opportunity to hear Smith tell his “Power of Story” in his own “lively” way. In “Tough Sh*t,” Smith really details his film career, his war with Southwest Airlines, and the creation of his new career as a successful podcaster.

In the final pages, Kevin details his love of famed filmmaker John Hughes. Hughes had a knack for understanding the teenage existence in popular 80s films such as “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty In Pink,” etc. But one Hughes film that stands out (for all of us): “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” 

For those of us who were of age back when “Ferris” was fresh to the big screen, it was pretty cool to not only see the main character talk to the audience, but to give some pretty sweet advice too… almost like a slacker-Buddha. So, Smith dedicated a few pages to “The Tenets of Buellerism” at the end of his homage to the late Hughes. A few of these Buellerisms really stood out to me regarding how they could be applied to our content marketing business practices and strategies. Take a look at some I have highlighted: 

“The Tenets of Buellerism,” highlights from Kevin Smith: 

Get along with everyone. Strive to be welcomed by all: sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, mastoids, dweebs, dickheads. Be a righteous dude.

Some pretty solid advice. You know your audience, but what about the folks that don’t know you or your brand? Is your content set to be inclusive or are you just pandering to the “sportos?” 

Stay cool. Remember: When the meek get pinched, the bold survive. Don’t bury your head in the sand and call it quits if a strategy doesn’t work. Own it and try again. 

Distrust authority or anyone who has a problem with a little bending of the rules. The only rules you gotta follow are the ones that keep you out of the police station.

Seriously, who sets the rules these days, anyway? If we would have followed the rules and stuck with traditional marketing, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. 

Take some time for yourself every once and awhile. At least nine times a year.

It’s a must. Recharge those creative batteries. 

If people don’t like your policies, they can smooch your big ol’ white (or other shade) butt. Pucker up, Buttercup.

I don’t think I need to really expand on this!

A fifth-grade threat still packs an amazing amount of influence.

Case in point: Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines. Yes, “Silent Bob” is more than a fifth-grade threat… but with a few outrageous (and hilariously self-deprecating) tweets after being kicked off a flight due to his weight, he single-handedly caused a major media nightmare for Southwest Airlines that’s still being talked about today. Don’t take anyone for granted. 

You can’t respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn’t work.

There is really no need for explanation of that point, but can you really trust a “yes man?” True respect grows when someone who appreciates and enjoys what you do isn’t afraid to speak up and offer you some constructive criticism. 

Don’t let the snooty or snotty stand in the way of a good time. Let ’em know who you are: Abe Froman — the Sausage King of Chicago.

Just remember, the snooty and snotty are the ones who want your strategies to fail. Mostly because they don’t believe in what you are doing OR they are afraid of it. 

Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.


Swing, batta.

A content marketing strategy can start small and turn into Mt. Everest pretty quickly. But hey, you will never know unless you swing. 

Pretty cool huh? Never thought I could relate Ferris Bueller to day-to-day business, unless I was playing hooky from work!  

Now, go forth and be Abe Froman. 

You’re still here? It’s over. Go. 

Want more content marketing inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with 100 content marketing examples.

Image via Bigstock

Author: Joseph Kalinowski

JK is the Creative Director for Content Marketing Institute. He has worked as an art director for 16 years in both the advertising and publishing industries. His role at CMI is to assist with the ideation and creation of projects and to work with the CMI staff to ensure they achieve our goals. Follow JK on Twitter @jkkalinowski.

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  • Vincent H Clarke

    Perfect blog post for a Friday morning, light-hearted and funny, but full of wisdom. Thanks Joseph!

    • Joseph Kalinowski

      Thank You Vincent!

  • michael weiss

    in the words of the great Cameron Frye: I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it. 

    Great Post Ringo!

    • Joseph Kalinowski

      Thanks Michael. Like I told JP… was thinking of answering the phone all day by saying “Eeeedddd Rooney’s office.”

  • Richard Morrison

    Thanks for such a light hearted post.  Makes for a good Friday.  I read another post that used quotes by Abe Lincoln to solve common marketing problems.  I hope this is a new trend that’s starting!  Great article!

    • Joseph Kalinowski

      Thanks Richard. It would be pretty cool if this becomes a trend!

  • globalcopywrite

    Hey JK, We caught the end of Ferris Bueller on late-night TV recently. I’m “of the era” so it was a no-brainer to stop and watch. What struck me about this old movie was how it still comes across as fresh. Why? Because John Hughes knew how to tell a good story. He knew how to relate to his audience. That’s what we’re all trying to do with content marketing. 

    Nice post; there’s nothing like a holiday to put a new twist on the way you see life. 

    • Joseph Kalinowski

      How true Sarah! It seems that all of us can relate to a character in a John Hughes film in some way or another. I used to think that I was like “Ferris” in my younger days, but as I get a little older, I seem to be turning into “Uncle Buck!” ; )