3 Marketing Tips From SpongeBob Squarepants

by | Feb 17, 2019 | General Business

Nearly every evening before bedtime, my oldest son turns on the brain-draining, IQ dropping, and time wasting show—SpongeBob Squarepants. Well, that’s what my opinion used to be about the show.

Not anymore.

Once I spent some time watching it more closely, I found many business and marketing gems hidden in most episodes.

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A Little Background

The late great Stephen Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob Squarepants (which has been on the air for going on 20 years now), was not only super creative, but a successful entrepreneur as well.

Sadly, Hillenburg recently passed away after his year-and-a-half long battle with ALS. As a way to pay tribute to Hillenburg’s creative genius, let’s look at three of the marketing secrets I found hidden within a handful of SpongeBob Squarepants episodes. 

Instead of talking about SpongeBob, we’re going to focus on his boss (Mr. Krabs)—a legit entrepreneur. Mr. Krabs is always looking for new ways to innovate and improve. He understands that business is about earning a profit, and this is his motivation.

Sure, many of his ideas eventually backfire on him (because of his unethical behavior), yet the way he identifies opportunities can be modeled (or his mistakes avoided) by real businesses.

Here’s 3 examples from episodes I’ve watched:

 

#1: Listen To The Market

A competitor (Sea Chicken Shack) starts taking all of the Krusty Krabs’ customers. So, Mr. Krabs has SpongeBob investigate to figure out what this competitor is doing to “steal” his customers.

SpongeBob soon finds out their success comes from providing entertainment for kids.

Mr. Krabs then finds a way to entertain kids at The Krusty Krab and wins his customers back.

(“The Masterpiece”—Season 7, Episode 148a)

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#2: Have A Plan Before You Sell

Mr. Krabs decides to retire, so he sells The Krusty Krab.

He tries golf and hates it, he tries painting a bowl of fruit and ends up painting Krabby Patties instead, and at home realizes he has no hobbies.

He’s so bored he gets a job (ironically) at the restaurant he used to own (now called “Krabby O’Monday’s”).

He is so upset with the way things are being run (and with being bored in retirement) that he ends up giving his money back and becomes the owner again.

(From “Selling Out”—Season 4, Episode 65a)

#3: Test Ideas Out, But Don’t Be Afraid To Abandon Them

Mr. Krabs hires his daughter Pearl to make the Krusty Krab more hip. Pearl wastes no time in making changes that are sure to be a big hit.

She changes the name to “The Kuddly Krab,” redecorates the restaurant to make it much more “Kuddly,” and even updates the uniforms.

Although the place becomes popular, it’s losing a lot of money.

Mr. Krabs can’t bring himself to fire his own daughter, so he summoned SpongeBob to fire her. As SpongeBob is talking to Pearl, he finds out that she doesn’t like the job at all, and actually wants to quit (but she can’t bring herself to quit working for her dad).

Pearl then comes up with the plan to have SpongeBob fire her (just like he was supposed to do anyway).

After Pearl is “fired,” The Krusty Krab is changed back to the way it was previously.

And, the restaurant becomes profitable again.

(From “Bossy Boots”—Season 2, Episode 22b)

What Do You Think? 

Do you have any shows or cartoons that have taught you marketing or business lessons?

If so, let us know on Twitter (@TeamPixelayn) or you can connect with me directly (@rdglick).

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing. When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.

Ryan Glick

Co-Founder, Pixelayn Innovations

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing. When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.

Ryan Glick

Co-Founder, Pixelayn Innovations