This past weekend I had the thrill of meeting a celebrity from my youth, Barry Williams. You might know him by his character Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch, or even his alter ego Johnny Bravo. He was in Rochester to participate in a local production and had a solo show, “Growing Up Brady.”
As someone who watched every episode (multiple times) of The Brady Bunch in my youth, it was personally exciting to meet him. If you grew up in the 1970s, Greg Brady was someone who most guys wanted to be and most girls wanted to be with.
His local event was a lot of fun for fans of The Brady Bunch. He shared stories about filming the series, spoke of his relationships with the cast and discussed the various spin-offs and specials that followed in subsequent years. Additionally, he sang, showed rare home movies from behind the scenes, he taught audience members how to dance like a Brady, took questions from the audience and made time for a “meet and greet” after the event.
Barry Williams unintentionally taught the crowd a few marketing lessons that afternoon too:
- Play to your strengths. While some cast members have tried to escape their Brady Bunch past to an extent, he’s seemingly embraced it. He’s had a long acting career on stage, but he recognizes that he’ll always be primarily identified with Greg Brady. Why not turn that into a strength and a positive? He has.
- Identify your core values and messaging. Barry was asked a few times why he thought the Brady Bunch has been as successful as it has. His response was that the show identified the values and messaging it wanted to focus on, and it stuck to them throughout its run. That was true of most of the spin-offs and specials. The least successful of those were when they decided to have the characters tackle much darker and more serious issues. When they seemingly abandoned their core values and messaging, viewers didn’t approve.
- Humbleness = Likeability. It was apparent from his opening rap song, “The Real Greg Brady” (a parody rap song, sung to Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”) that Barry Williams has a great sense of humor and does not take himself too seriously. He can laugh at his past – especially the bad dance moves shown in clips from the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Humor often wins people over and this was no exception.
- Honesty and transparency brings and strengthens loyalty. Barry Williams was forthcoming with many details about The Brady Bunch and even incorporated a Question and Answer session into the show. There were no polished, politically correct, canned responses that I could detect. In marketing, honesty and transparency brings and strengthens loyalty. I’m sure his fans left Saturday’s show with a stronger connection to him than before.
- Everyone wants to be “cool.” People want to be cool and brands want to be seen as cool. When asked to comment on the celebrity guest appearances on The Brady Bunch, he spoke of Don Drysdale, Joe Namath and Davy Jones. You could see his excitement when he said that Joe Namath recognizes him to this day. Even Johnny Bravo, “Mr. Cool” in Brady Bunch lore, looks up to someone. 🙂 Makes you wonder which brands the “cool brands” look up to.
Sometimes, marketing lessons come when you’re least expecting them. Now that’s groovy!