The Johnny Depp Guide to Mesmerizing Marketing

image of johnny depp

On Stranger Tides is just one more in the long line of big budget Hollywood movies. Or is it?

Actually, it happens to be just another movie that Johnny Depp refused to appear in for anything short of $42,000,000.

He charges that amount because the movie can’t exist with out him.

Johnny’s the star of the show. Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack Sparrow is like an ice cream sundae with no ice cream.

But if Johnny Depp didn’t act in movies — if he were a regular job-holding guy from Kentucky — nobody would care about him. Nobody would pay him.

That could easily have happened, you know.

John Christopher Depp is a high-school dropout from Lexington, Kentucky. He once made a (sort of) living as a ballpoint pen salesman. My cousin swears she once spotted him years ago in a local WalMart.

He was unshaved. His clothes were old and torn. He looked like a hippie. Reclusive. Possibly homeless.

That doesn’t match his public image, does it?

We’re used to seeing Johnny Depp behind four millimeters of stage makeup, in hand-tailored black tie, and signing $42 million Hollywood film contracts.

How does he do it?

How does a normal guy become an A-list star — attracting a raving following and getting paid to do what he loves?

The answer is simpler than you might think.

Johnny Depp knows his audience

On Stranger Tides isn’t about entertaining Johnny.

It’s about entertaining his audience. Johnny isn’t messing around trying to collect his thoughts or share breaking news in pirate technology.

No, he’s giving his audience the content they’re looking for. He’s connecting and delivering.

Here’s what Johnny Depp means to your blog

You’re actually in the entertainment business.

Every byte of data you blast onto the web is a piece of your movie.

Each time you publish a post, you’re broadcasting a scene — a link in the chain — that brings your film to the next level.

It takes work. Some days you feel like retreating to your little hometown …

But remember, when the camera’s running, you have to connect.

It takes focus

You aren’t doing this to become a better writer, even if that’s a sneaky side effect.

You aren’t doing it for the fame or money — though money facilitates the journey.

You aren’t doing it just for you — though you absolutely love what you’re doing.

The moment you focus on those things, you lose your touch.

Like an major league baseball player at bat, your eyes are glued to the ball. You ignore everything else, and you aim for a grand slam.

Prepare your script to match your audience’s deepest desires. Peek around the curtain and listen to the gossip. The tools are before you, pleading to be used.

Get your act together, then freaking deliver.

Like it or not, here they come.

Just ask Johnny Depp.

About the Author: Martyn Chamberlin is a Web designer and copywriter from Two Hour Blogger. He’s also a proud user of the Genesis Framework, and when you see his site, you’ll probably know why.

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  1. Johnny Depp is also an excellent example of what you can accomplish no matter where you’re from or what you do, it’s really about where you’re going.

    An excellent article, I personally think Johnny Depp has stood out because of his unique personality and the way he articulates his craft to his audience is incredibly powerful, I think there is a lesson for copywriters here.

    Love how Johnny was in the marketing department like most of us :)

    -Hasan

    • Johnny Depp’s additional talent is to invest in tomorrow’s customers. By regularly sprinkling his career with kid-oriented movies, he is effectively priming kids for movies he’ll be offering them 20 years from now, when they’ll be adults and he’ll be… well… less young.

  2. What also makes Johnny Depp so powerful as a Hollywood figure is that for a long time he was the anti-Hollywood star. He did everything he could to NOT become the next “pretty guy” actor and chose unique, awkward and different roles. He wasn’t afraid to be himself and became a huge star because of it. I think we as marketers could learn a lesson from that.

  3. Haha! I love Johnny Depp (not in a gay way ok?) and I love your blog too Martyn and I love CopyBlogger. Put that all together and here you have this great post!

    This is amazing, comparing how Johnny Depp do his work, his life with blogging. If you know your audience you can probably deliver what they need and NOT WHAT YOU THINK THEY WANT. Focusing on your audiences’ NEEDS is a must and providing SOLUTIONS to their problems should be the main goal of your blog.

    Thanks for this article!
    - Melvin

  4. Martyn, it is looking simple but with concrete message

    As you said people should do things what they are good at. It is also about passionately doing that without expecting the returns. But the returns will automatically follow……..

    Bill Gates, Steve Jobs did what they are good at and they did it with passion, we can list many people who went from ‘rags to riches’.

    But nowadays we have different set of people, who don’t want to get out of their safety net and don’t want to pursue things which they are good at because of fear. I want to say them “Get your act together, then freaking deliver”.

    Thank you for this article

  5. This has been a definite call to action for me…focus with laser-like focus on the needs and wants of your audience. I’ve been so consumed lately with money, how I’m going to organize myself, etc. etc. etc. And I’ve always known that you’ve gotta focus on the audience. But putting extreme focus on the audience could be that one missing element that I’m missing. Thanks for this great article!

  6. Human race works, thinks…….. with a hope that there is always tomorrow. So never give up, let us do what we do with perseverance and one day we will taste the fruit of success

  7. Brilliant Martyn! I absolutely ADORE celebrities, and feel they have a very powerful mix of ingredients, we could all benefit from. Catering to the audience. Confidence in personal brand. Law Of Attraction skills.

    I’d never looked at Depp specifically, and I’m glad I read this. I’ve written some similar pieces on my site, one yesterday as a matter of fact, so if anyone’s interested: http://spiritsentient.com/18-examples-of-celebrities-who-think-success

  8. Love this post – cuts right trough the blogging in the clouds mentality and brings it right to its essence – blogging is entertainment.

  9. You had me at Depp.

    Genius post. Points well made–and the photo doesn’t hurt either. :-)

  10. “Side affect” sticks out like a sore thumb, but I had to wonder if you did it on purpose. Because people would notice; kind of a weird, depp-like effect on the sentence.

  11. Keep in mind that Depp does big crowd-pleasing movies so he has the luxury to do smaller and more experimental projects. The same holds true for web entrepreneurs.

  12. Lights, camera, action!

    A tried-and-true message put under the spotlight. :)

    Nicely done, Martyn. Great to see you here at Copyblogger.

  13. Where is your compass pointing? To what you want
    Or what your audience needs?
    A great post reminding me to check my instruments!
    Including the latest revisions on my website.
    Karen M Rider
    Freelance writer
    Emerging author

  14. My first reaction was “but what about art.” Well I’m an artist so maybe that’s why.. I mean I hated Depp till I saw Fear and Loathing.. wasn’t even on my radar screen.

    And here in lys the problem… there’s a question of “just what exactly is you’re definition of success?” You’re success metric.. defines what will bring you success.. so like.. if it’s… audience.. and.. I’m thinking of Seth Godin’s shtick on the TV industrial complex.. that bit of laggards in the middle.. well then.. serve the unwashed masses… never mind doing anything of substance with you’re life or brand…

    • I would argue that art is precisely why the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has done so well. The first movie in particular is a much better film than it needed to be. Much better dialogue, much better acting (and not just from Depp).

      I’m curious, did you see Depp in stuff before F&L and hate him, or did you not bother seeing his movies because you thought they’d be bad because they were commercial?

      You may simply dislike Depp as an actor, which is perfectly fine, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to say he’s never done anything of substance. And most of the really successful actors today (I’m thinking Pitt, Clooney, Willis) seem to take that formula — take a commercial career and bring art to it.

  15. You had me at Johnny on this one. I love the clean format of The Two Hour Blogger, but I wonder if this concept can ever be obtained. Two hours? This reminds me of when I was trying to run a network marketing business. (That was a nightmare) They suggested we make drop cards that said, ‘I love my two hour work day.’ I put them out everywhere and then had to ask myself why I was doing it. In reality I was beating my head up against the wall all day long and getting nowhere. Two hours? I opted to remain loyal to their products and to work on the business of Nicole as a writer. I don’t know how many hours I work because it is not like work for me, but I know I spend way more than two hours a day on my blog. I love your blog, Martyn, but the title just bring back strange memories for me.

    • The First Rule of Two Hour Blogger is that you spend a minimum of two hours writing each blog post. 99.5% of bloggers don’t spend that much time, so it’s revolutionary for my audience. If you’re ahead of the curve, kudos. ;)

      • I should not have used this space to rant about my two hour theories. So sorry. I should have directly responded to your article, which I liked. I have never thought of Actors taking parts to directly connect with a specific market. An interesting way to look at. Might explain the failure of many actors/actresses and why they appear to take bad parts. Maybe they don’t have a clear vision of what parts are right for them, much like online branding and blogging.

        I spend way more than two hours on a blog post. I usually only put up one post a week, but I feel like I spend the whole week trolling for questions, thinking of a theme and then finally putting it into words. Then the editing and linking and finding the right picture. Sharing and monitoring the comments and then connecting with new comment-ers on social media. So I guess I will accept your kudos. Thanks for clarifying.

  16. That’s a lovely picture. :)

  17. Enjoyable post Martyn. I totally agree that entertainment and sales are vital components of our messages.

    $42 million – seems crazy. But like you said, he’s essential to the franchise.

    Regarding Captain Jack Sparrow, take a look at this hilarious skit with Michael Bolton hijacking a gangster rap video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI6CfKcMhjY.

    That’s entertainment!

  18. Johnny Depp is extraordinary and I enjoy his movies. The “pirates of the Caribbean” has been my inspiration as a blogger since I started. Although, you’ve explained it clearly, I think the film is a must watch for every blogger. It’s touchy and full of intrigue. That sounds like a movie director? Lol!

  19. Interestingly enough, Leonardo DiCaprio trumps Johnny Depp and holds the #1 spot for highest paid actor. They’re not altogether dissimilar. And then there’s #3….Adam Sandler. He’s actually my fave. Perhaps I should model my blogging strategy after him?!? Thoughts?

  20. Elmarie Bouwer :

    When I grow up, I want to write just like this. Most enjoyable Martyn!

  21. A-maz-ing. I love Johnny Depp for all the reasons you listed above. I also couldn’t agree more on the importance of writing to please your audience and listening to what they say they want. Those facts are basic. You hit them home with a powerful force and example. Very nicely put!!! :D

  22. i get it thanks for posting i really get it i am going to build i shrine to the depster and where a viper room t-shirt

  23. I enjoyed this article. Great person to use as an example! I have to agree on all three points, but, I believe that ‘knowing your audience’ is the most important point of all businesses. When I write my blogs, I think of who will read this, I write the way that type of audience would, yet, little more ‘structural’. But, overall, great topic!!

  24. This is actually one of the things I struggle with most. Opening up my business with my blog has been great in terms of increasing my exposure and boosting both sales and clients, but it can be overwhelming to be “on” all the time. Like, if I slack off one week, now there’s going to be more people who notice (which, I guess, is good and bad).

    But you’re right – everything that you do (or don’t do) becomes part of the story about your brand – which isn’t something to be taken lightly. I honestly have no idea how Hollywood celebrities cope with what’s got to be my struggle multiplied by, like, a thousand :)

    Thanks for sharing – interesting stuff!

  25. Johnny Depp *and* Martyn Chamberlin in the same blog post?

    Is it my birthday?

    More seriously, thanks for the call to action. Many bloggers in my niche attack each other saying the other content is poor or unnecessary or incomplete. The victim blogger’s response is to try and accommodate their attacker by providing content focused entirely on one-up-man-ship. The better response would be to refocus on what your readers want, what information they are missing, how you can entertain your reader, and find out their concerns, worries, and passions.

    My secret sauce for discovering blog reader’s interests, worries, loves and hates is reading their comments on posts, and replying to every single email.

  26. Martyn,
    Great post!
    I love the way you weave the story into the lesson.
    -AJ

  27. Nicely illustrated – although fairly random, citing Johnny Depp, you could have picked any old Johnny who attracts an audience. The message is sound enough thought – don’t forget the audience you are writing for… strive to entertain.

  28. Excellent post. I never knew just how much Johnny Depp charged to be in Pirates (my jaw dropped when I read that), but come to think of it, you’re absolutely right–the movie just wouldn’t work without him and come to think of it, I specifically told people I was going to see Stranger Tides for Jack Sparrow.

    Connecting that to blogging, I’d take it a step further and say that not only do you need to write for your audience (because you’re right, once you lose sight of that, you’ll lose focus), but you need to insert part of yourself in your writing or your blog will be lost among the wave of others. Unless you let your personality shine through your blog posts, you’ll become forgettable.

  29. I want to be an amazingly talented, quirky and intelligent yet true to myself blogger that totally entertains and enrolls my readers, just as Johnny Depp delivers to his audience. And he does not look like he is acting. He is a natural! Yeah- my new role model- Thanks!

  30. Interesting point of view. Basically a reminder that “All the world’s a stage”, and yes, we are all players.

    So choose your role, whether blogger or otherwise, and as you say, when the camera is rolling make sure you are in character, delivering what people want. Stay on topic, be genuine, be respectful, be original.

    Thanks for the read!

  31. Looks like uniqueness is the talk of town. You be unique, you succeed!

    I have not seen much from Johnny Depp. Just one Pirates Of Caribbean movie, I guess. But he was great in it. A valuable blogging lesson!

  32. I believe this is true of everything people consume – unless they’re forced to (work, school…) people will only read what interests them, what they want to read.

    And even necessities like food, people will buy what they want to eat, rather than something they dislike.

    I’ve done it myself, it’s easy to think of the product first, rather than giving people actually what they want. Keyword research, and just getting to know the market can give great ideas of what people actually want to read about and buy and helps avoid mistakes. And whatever people may say about magazines/newspapers being out of date with the times, they know what their readers want to read about.

  33. great post! knowing your audience is the key to being successful with sales

  34. Nice post! You are right about doing it for the audience.

    When I first starts my training business, it was about me, satisfying my ego.
    That time, I was a good trainer.

    But what changed for me is when I start to connect and understand the audience.
    I turned from good to a compassionate trainer.

  35. It is so tempting to pump out trash but I guess that is what B list actors do and they get paid accordingly.

    To be an A lister you have to pump out quality even when you don’t think you can. I guess that is what sets the A listers apart from everybody else.

    If it was easy to act,or blog, or market, or entertain then we would all be doing it very successful. You have to go beyond what the average person does.

    Thanks for the post

  36. I loved this post! You put it in perspective. Our audience is the most important piece of the puzzle and if we are not looking them in the eye and speaking to them in a language and give them what they want, they will move on to those who do. Great analogy!

  37. Am a little confuses here, wonder if someone could help me out. Is Johnny Depp a blogger?

  38. I like this post because its exactly right. What would Pirates of the Caribbean be without Johnny Depp? Nothing, just like your writing is nothing without knowing your audience, or knowing who it is intended for.

  39. This is a great comparison. Johnny Depp can demand that much money, because he knows it’s a better investment for the studio to have him in the movie in order to make more money. The people want to see Johnny. By the same token, give your customers the content they want, and make it worthwhile for them, and they will come with money in hand.