Step Up Your Marketing Game with Bill Murray

When Bill Murray took to Reddit in his now famous AMA session back in 2014, he offered valuable insight to marketers on how brands might borrow from his career and his image to make better decisions:

Well I don’t know if brands should be more like [me], but there’s no question they should suck less. […] Ads aren’t bad in themselves. It’s just the attitude.

Bill Murray

His answer is planted in the down-to-earth practicality that’s marked his career for the last four decades. For Murray, it’s never about the buzz or the big budget flicks, it’s about knowing what makes people tick and how to play bizarro characters, while bringing real human empathy to every role.

Obviously our ads should suck less, but it’s easy for us marketers to lose sight of that. Amidst a sea of new tech, tools and slogans, losing sight of the forest for the trees is increasingly easy. In celebration of Groundhog Day, here are 4 ways you can up your marketing game inspired by Everyone’s Cool Uncle, Bill Murray.

1. Keep it Real

Steve Zissou Bill Murray

On screen, there’s never been much doubt over how real each one of Bill’s characters are. From Ghostbusters to Moonrise Kingdom, the man sells just about any role, no matter how out there they read on script. Beyond simply channeling a great performance, Murray uses authentic human emotion in the most peculiar and surprising ways to help us connect to his characters. From Phil Connors, the lost-in-a-time-warp anchorman in Groundhog Day, we learned the power of embracing and sharing love instead of cynicism or negativity, and with Lost in Translation’s Bob Harris, the washed up actor, we learned how to find solid ground even when we’ve totally lost ourselves. No matter how gonzo the characters are or how crazy the plots get, Murray picks and portrays characters that never lose sight of what it is to be human.

We all have to go to the store, we all have to have groceries, but there’s a way to sell you things to make the exchange more of a human one. Sometimes you buy things from someone because you like their style.

Bill Murray

For Murray, keeping it real should be the name of the game when it comes to marketing. Online, social media helps marketers find and connect with their audience quickly. This accessibility, however, can give way to complacency, and in some cases to complete social media disasters. A poor grasp of context might result in tweeting out a hashtag that is wildly offense (poor DiGiorno…).

Social media faux-pas often stem from a disconnect between focusing on the bottom line, understanding the scene, and concentrating on actual, human interactions. Above being consumers, your audience are actual people who crave real communication and can sniff out fakes faster than we give them credit for. It’s why a brand like Arby’s can traffic on their keen awareness of current events to become a social media juggernaut, and it’s how Oreo became one of the hottest brands in marketing a few years back. Regardless of who’s behind these campaigns, these brands never leave a doubt that they’re keeping it real by showcasing what matters to their communities.

2. Nurture Multiple Talents

Bill Murray Razorback Murray’s diversity from role to role is enough to write a book, but in any given movie his characters display amazing depth and complexity. Would anyone remember Groundhog Day only because of how jaded and sarcastic Phil Connors was? Of course not: we remember the man who grew and learned to love across however many days he actually spent in Punxsutawney (some say he could’ve spent over 34 years reliving that day…) We remember a character who grew to appreciate interactions as seemingly irrelevant as the bed and breakfast’s concierge, or as memorable as Ned Ryerson, and make them more entertaining and engaging than the day before.

Your marketing works in the same way. While we’ve all got marketing specialties– as we should, we need to keep learning new skills to cut it in our ever-changing online landscape. A marketer writing a blog post should have an understanding of the SEO strategy behind their article in the same way that an analytics guru needs to look past the numbers to see and understand customer behaviour to glean greater insights. Great marketing comes together when each moving cog works effortlessly with the others. And heck, if Phil Connors can learn to become a trained pianist, a master sculptor and a real-life Casanova through rinse-and-repeat: we should be able to tack on a coupla new skills on our resumés, too.

3. Be Disruptive to Make Your Mark

Groundhog Day Bill Murray

Disruptiveness in Hollywood might conjure an image of the latest pop star driving their car into a swimming pool or dipping their toe into the startup scene, but with Bill, it’s always been a big part of his game. He brought it when he took to the links to reprise his Caddyshack role in real life, and it was even better when he founded his very own Caddyshack charity tournament with his brothers. Remember the time he hopped behind a Hollywood bar with RZA and stayed around all night serving drinks? And that’s not even counting the times he joined a local New York kickball game or crashed that guy’s bachelor party. Bill’s cool doesn’t only come from his onscreen work, but through the consistently awesome ways he brings whimsy and joy into our lives and his own.

The difference between the good and the great in marketing is just that; finding new ways to delight your audiences. While some marketing initiatives do require a templated approach, generally, marketing-by-the-numbers gets brands lost in all the noise and limits their ability to make that big connection.

Your marketing campaign might not necessary need to go all-out, but the idea of making a stir should be ever-present for us as marketers. It’s worked for brands from Red Bull all the way down to The Oatmeal, and it’ll work for you, too.

4. Persevere

No one understands the idea of perseverance more than Murray as Phil Connors. Though he experienced daily failures for what could very well have been decades, it was all worth it when the film came to its saccharine close, where Phil gets the girl because he worked so darn hard at improving himself for so damn long!


Whether your goals are to increase traffic or improve conversion rates, the lesson remains. All marketers face a few losses or failures in our careers, but perseverance will see us through. By testing, constant learning, and getting down to some old fashioned hard work, our successful campaigns make it all worth it.

Lost in Conversion

Lost In Translation Bill Murray

As marketers develop new goals, and new expectations are set of us, it’s increasingly easy to lose sight of what should truly matter: making that connection.

By keeping it real, learning new skills, stirring the pot and persevering, you’re not only learning from pros like Murray, you’re positioning yourself for lasting success.

If you enjoyed reading this, why not share what’s on your marketing mind by taking our annual Groundhog Day Survey?

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