26 Jan

Everything You Need to Know About Marketing and PR, According to Ted Lasso (Plus: the Biscuit Recipe)

By Erika Turan, APR, Senior Account Executive

Have you jumped on board Apple TV’s hit, Ted Lasso? The heartfelt, quirky, funny series stars Jason Sudeikis as Ted, a small-time American football coach who takes a job coaching a professional soccer club in England, despite having zero experience coaching (or playing) soccer. His appointment as head coach for AFC Richmond is either the worst idea in history, or a genius move no one saw coming.

What started as a funny promo for NBC sports, the series broke records as the most nominated freshman comedy in Emmy Award history, and is now about to start filming its third season.

Riddled with wisdom, sparkling with wit, and dripping with off-color language, the show is a gigantic hit. And, lucky for us, a fun little way to explore some marketing and public relations lessons too. Here are a few of my favorites.

  1. A short, succinct message will get you everywhere. On his first day as head coach, Ted boils down his philosophy to just one word: “Believe.” Even if you’re not a fan of the show, you may have seen the blue-marker-on-yellow-paper message somewhere. It’s become that ubiquitous. That one word is what he puts out to his team: believe in yourselves, believe in me, believe in each other. It’s not complicated, and it works. Remember that for your marketing and PR efforts: distill your message down to its essence, and it will work harder for you.
  2. If you don’t believe in a brand, don’t rep it. When AFC Richmond player Sam Obisanya is offered a role as spokesperson for team sponsor Dubai Airlines, it sends him over the moon. Until Sam learns the sponsor’s parent company is likely responsible for horrific environmental damage in his home country, Nigeria. Sam uses his influential position to put a spotlight on the injustice and declines the lucrative paycheck. Lesson learned: make sure your brand is conducting itself legally, ethically and morally. And if aligning with a brand doesn’t fit your values, don’t do it.
  3. Straight talk – with kindness – is a blessing. AFC Richmond’s captain, Roy Kent, is as beloved for his prowess on the field as he is for his curmudgeonly, direct (and often profane) manner of delivering communications. But he instills fierce loyalty in his teammates and proves himself a leader on and off the field. Skip the grumpiness and swear words – unless you’re Roy Kent – and look for opportunities to provide communications counsel in a way that’s both direct and kind. Like this quote from Roy: “You Deserve Someone Who Makes You Feel Like You’ve Been Struck By F***Ing Lightning—Don’t You Dare Settle for Fine!”
  4. Your clients deserve optimism, and so do you. When the world feels like a dumpster fire, a little hope and optimism can go a long way. In the pilot episode, Ted is on the soccer, er, football pitch for the very first time. After being disrespected by a teammate once again, a dejected and discouraged Sam Obisanya was slowly walking to the locker room. In that Southern drawl, Ted said to Sam, “You know what the happiest animal in the world is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.” Sometimes, you need a 10-second memory. Leave the negative feedback behind, ditch the naysayers who predict only failure because the budget is too small/the goal is too big/the politics are too cumbersome. Be a goldfish.
  5. Know your audience. And then, be tenacious. When starry-eyed Ted first arrives at AFC Richmond, his prickly boss and owner of the club, Rebecca Welton, seemingly wants nothing to do with him. But Ted recognizes the importance of building a relationship with her, and proceeds to teach himself how to bake the most delicious cookies she’s ever tasted, which he delivers to her every morning, whether she wants them or not. And over time, Rebecca’s walls begin to break down as Ted is able to develop a friendship with her. Want to try Ted’s “Biscuits with the Boss” for yourself? Here’s the official recipe.