ZEITLINES | 03.01.19
Still image: Wayne's World, 1992.
WARNING: If you don't know what it means when someone references the Mirthmobile, if you think Mike Myers’ only great work was Austin Powers, and if you have no idea why he and Dana Carvey were introducing Bohemian Rhapsody at the Academy Awards, you should probably stop reading here. For the rest of us, this week in Zeitlines, Director of Client Success, Julie, shares some important lessons for business and for life, courtesy of Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. Best enjoyed with a Sugar Puck from Stan Mikita’s Donuts (or a Canadian alternative). Read on!
Lessons from Aurora, Illinois
Julie Wierzbicki, Director of Client Success
At the Oscars this year, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprised their characters Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar from Wayne’s World to introduce Bohemian Rhapsody as one of the nominations for Best Picture. Their appearance marked 27 years since the film’s release in 1991. And unsurprisingly, their presence received a ton of warm attention.
Wayne’s World’s success was completely unexpected. It is the highest grossing SNL movie ever to date, exerted a massive influence on pop culture and started a cult following (myself included) that still exists to this day.
In addition to Wayne’s World’s contribution to fashion, music, slang, and increased awareness of Aurora Illinois, Wayne Campbell taught us many valuable lessons on life and love, and if you’re looking through the right lens, business and marketing.
1. Integrity and authenticity is everything
Wayne and Garth learned the hard way that selling out sucks. The unscripted authenticity of their feeble public access show is exactly what caught the attention of fans and of Benjamin, and landed them their sweet $10,000 deal. Unfortunately, corporate sponsors and legal fine print quickly derailed their success.
When you achieve next level success, it’s important to stick with the formula that got you there in the first place. The temptation to move from the underdog to mainstream is great when money is on the table. Of course, you will want to capitalize on that success, but if what got you there is being grassroots, scrappy, and accessible then, those characteristics need to be maintained in the present day. Flowers that bloom still need their roots.
2. Take risks and go with your gut
This movie was not anticipated to be a main stream hit. Aside from 1980’s “Blues Brothers”, SNL movies historically did not achieve commercial success. The writing, production, and directorial team (Penelope Spheeris, Lorne Michaels, Mike Myers, Bonnie and Terry Turner) took a lot risks in their mixed-bag formula – they consistently broke the fourth wall, used dream sequences, improvised many of the banger one-liners, and somehow convinced celebrities to spoof themselves (remember Alice Cooper’s enthusiasm for history lessons?). But all these risks paid off.
The thing with a common formula is it is just that…common. We are always trying to help our clients define their point of difference and ensure this is clear in the creative. But what about our own brand? A lot of businesses and certainly agencies try to stay competitive by offering the same thing as everybody else. If being a true jack of all trades is what makes you stand out, then more power to you. But most likely, trying to fit into that model out of a sense of obligation will result in mediocrity. If instead you’ve always had a real talent and passion for designing influencer-driven social strategy for gun rack retailers, then go live your best life. After all, Led Zeppelin didn’t write tunes that everyone liked.
3. Success is how you define it
By the end of the movie, after many trials and tribulations, all our characters learned valuable life lessons, particularly Wayne and Benjamin. Here are two men at opposite ends of the spectrum who find themselves fighting each other for success. Benjamin had many things Wayne didn’t that, on the surface, made him seem more accomplished; he had a flawless profile, a perfect body, the right clothes, and a great car. Wayne (well, aside from the Mirth mobile), had none of these things. But depending on the lens through which you view the story, either of these men could be considered the victor.
Success is ultimately based on personally-defined metrics. Of course, in business the bottom line is very important, but it is still just a piece of the puzzle that makes up your KPIs. How do you rank other items like peer recognition, client longevity, creative ingenuity, personal health and balance, employee happiness, risk taking, authenticity, and life satisfaction? When we stop looking at our own success through the lens of people other than ourselves, we may find we have always been successful. Don’t become distracted by false ideals that actually have been Pralines and Dick the whole time.
If you have a story of your own to share, reach out to Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org! #FreeYourStory