The Wire isn’t just one of the greatest TV shows of all time, it also showcases a spectrum of characters who need to be smart to get ahead in their chosen professions.

Whether they’re cops, drug dealers, politicians, or whatever else, all of the characters learnt how to survive (and flourish) in cutthroat industries, and we can take some valuable lessons from their insights.

(Note: Some of the videos may include language not appropriate for work – so be warned if you’re watching them in the office!).

1. “All the pieces matter.”

All marketing efforts need to work together. Everyone, and everything, needs to be working towards the same overall goal. For multi-channel marketing to achieve the best results, all your marketing channels should consider what the others are doing so they can complement each other and provide consumers with a consistent message throughout. Putting all the focus onto one channel (such as print or TV), and neglecting or lacking consistency across others (such as digital or social), will result in poorer customer experience, and could miss out on targeting key customers.


2. “Pawns, they get capped quick. They’re out of the game early.” / “Unless they some smart-ass pawns.”

Smaller brands and companies may seem like they don’t stand a chance of competing with the big boys, but like chess, it’s all about being smart and having a solid strategy if you want to come out on top. Smaller companies having less bureaucracy can allow for more agile marketing. When the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo (a company with a marketing team of just 16 people) managed to steal all the other brands’ thunder, without even buying a Super Bowl advert. In just a few short minutes, Oreo sent out an simple Twitter image that quickly went viral, and it cost them next to nothing.


3. “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

Launching a new brand, product, or service, can be a lot of pressure. Your competitors are likely to have already established themselves with consumers and have built a strong reputation. So don’t rush a new launch. Take the time to ensure you’ve done the necessary research beforehand, and plan your campaign and strategy carefully so you know exactly how you plan on getting a foothold in the marketplace. This will help ensure when you do launch, you can truly compete.




4. “Worrying about you is like wondering if the sun is going to come up.”

Your competitors are always going to be there. But don’t waste your time getting distracted by what they’re doing or trying to do something similar. Be unique and true to your brand by focusing on what you’re doing and what you want to achieve. If you spend too much time looking over your shoulder, you won’t be able to see what’s happening in front of you.




5. “You think I have time to ask a man why he giving me money? Or where he gets his money from? I’ll take anyone’s money if he givin’ it away!”

While Senator Davis in The Wire is only interested in the money he gets, we should be thinking more about where it’s coming from. We need to know who our customers are, and find out why they’re purchasing our products or services, what their background is, and what powers their decision making. This will help us build stronger relationships with our customers as we can use big data available to cater to their needs and turn them into returning customers, as well as using that information to profile other potential customers.




6. “The thing about the old days, they the old days”

You need to adapt with the times, otherwise you’ll be left behind. Customers are always changing, and newer technologies mean the way they consume content and interact with brands are changing too. You might have preferred the ‘old days’ when it was all a bit simpler, and easier for brand messaging to be heard, but things move on, so there’s no point wasting time dwelling on the past. Take what you can learn from it and apply it to where you’re going in the future.




7. “The world is a smaller place now.”

With most of the world now being online, brands can communicate with customers across the world, rather than just in their local markets. So you need to bear this in mind, as your customers might no longer be locals, which means you’ll need to consider how different global markets and customers will respond to your products and services. What works for one market, won’t always work for another. For instance, when the nappy brand Pampers launched in Japan, they used an image of a stork delivering a baby in their campaign… However, a little research would have told them that storks bringing babies to parents isn’t a thing in Japan, so needless to say people were left a bit baffled.


8. “This here game is more than the rep you carry, the corner you hold. You gotta be fierce… But more than that, you gotta show some flex, give and take on both sides.”

Reputation matters. But it’s more than just about what others think of you, you need to live up to your reputation too. Being open and flexible for your customers will help you earn not just respect, but loyalty too. Nike is great at this. As one of the biggest brands in the world, they could be a bit complacent. But instead they work hard to keep their reputation by going the extra mile for their customers. With millions of followers across their social media accounts, Nike still give excellent customer service – and have a dedicated Twitter account for just that, @NikeSupport. This Twitter account responds to customer queries quickly (and in a number of languages!), so customers are kept happy and will stay loyal to the brand.


9. “You play in the dirt, you get dirty.”

Be careful who your brand associates with, as it will affect how customers perceive your brand. Think about your brand values, and your customer needs, rather than just quick chances for publicity and money. An example of this would be Lego and Shell’s partnership last year. Lego, a well loved children’s brand, partnered with Shell, who are notorious for their oil spills damaging the environment. Quite predictably, there was public outcry (mostnotably from Greenpeace). In the end, Lego caved and announced they wouldn’t be renewing the Shell partnership, but the whole debacle has left a bit of a stain on Lego’s reputation.


10. “A man gotta have a code.”

What are your brand values? Once you’ve formed the underlying ethos of your brand, you need to be staying true to it in everything you do, from your new products and services, to your campaigns in different global markets, to how you speak to your consumers on social media. It all matters and forms part of your code. The consistency that forms because of your code is what will build the brand trust amongst consumers, and keep them coming back to you.



If you’ve got anymore marketing tips you think we can learn from The Wire, tweet them to us @DigitalAnnexe.


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