As an abashed former News Corp employee (thankfully at HarperCollins, one of the Murdoch portfolio’s least-offensive holdings), HBO’s "Succession" is my straight shot of Sunday-night dopamine. The show’s great even if you aren’t attuned to the devastating, thinly veiled media and publishing world portrayals—but it’s a lot more fun for those of us who are. And watching through the eyes of a current ad guy, there are still a lot of professional lessons to take away from the savage, but often insightful, Roy family and their various hangers-on.
In anticipation of the season coming to a close this Sunday, when we bid adieu to our favorite deliciously dysfunctional and unscrupulous family of one-percenters until next year, I bring you my favorite ad-world lessons learned and reaffirmed in the first two seasons of HBO’s latest tentpole show.
What's the protein?
Roy family patriarch Logan’s go-to phrase, “What’s the protein?” is quickly becoming my internal mantra in all sorts of daily situations. Logan’s a busy guy who shoots from the hip, so he needs a quick phrase that helps get to the meat of the matter at hand—or points out the lack of substance in a given proposition (like his daughter Shiv’s much-mocked family memo).
“What’s the protein?” is great shorthand for stripping the BS out of the equation and weighing whether there’s real substance at the core of an idea or it’s just carbohydrate filler. I’ve toyed with “What’s the protein?” becoming my new go-to filter in creative reviews, briefing sessions and brainstorms, though I’d imagine my colleagues would prefer it doesn’t. Either way, try it the next time you need to quickly separate the wheat from the wagyu.
Greg doesn't do white drugs
As a strategist, it’s always important to understand the blurred lines that customers create for themselves within a category. Some of the greatest brand repositionings worked because they pushed a product into a previously unthinkable new mindspace, like when pork was magically transformed into “the other white meat” and Snickers became a meal replacement rather than just another candy bar.