Calvin and Hobbes Marketing

Calvin and Hobbes is probably my favourite cartoon. There are others near the top of the list, yet whenever I need a good chuckle and different view on life I will crack open one of Bill Watterson’s classics compilations. We might have all of them in our house.

I applaud Watterson because he never sold out and licensed any aspect of the cartoon. The only thing he did was make the cartoon. So, if you see any pictures or images of the characters you know they are illegal.

Part of the genius of this strip is the perspective that Calvin has on life. And he tackles almost any subject. Let’s pick marketing to start. Lots of people love “Big Data” and there are some important findings often uncovered during analysis. But, so often it is the “small data” that tells the real story. Like this:


To every non-marketer – do you always believe the data you read? And marketers – it is your responsibility to help your colleagues understand the accuracy of the data upon which you are making those major corporate decisions about your customer likes and dislikes.

Product extensions are another way to reach all potential users in a category, like this:


Knowing this, we should be aware of the importance of target marketing:

C&H target marketing

You see, great marketers know that you must understand your target market very well. You have to watch them in person, whether that is live or online, to get a sense of their behaviour. Great marketers also know that what someone does one week does not automatically guarantee the same behaviour in the future.

C&H ads

We also have to know what makes our product or service better than anyone else’s. If we ask, we may not like the answers:

C&H chewing magazine

And yet, getting these answers can help us understand what is necessary for improved product or service development. We need to listen – actively and regularly. From many sources. And we need to distill this data into conclusions and implications so that business performance can be improved.

And yes, I believe that holistic marketing (4P’s, differentiation and real strategy) is the center of business because this is the only department that consistently puts the customer at the center of the relationship.

Know your customer or you will have no customer.

Calvin and Hobbes

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