SPOILER ALERT: Now that Walter White is in that big meth cooking RV in the sky, event marketers can analyze the phenomenon that was Breaking Bad and learn some valuable lessons.

  1. Good wine (& meth) takes time. When Breaking Bad first premiered, the ratings were blah to say the least. However, as the show went on, it started gaining considerable traction until the point where just five years later it was one of the primary water cooler topics in the nation. The final episode which aired on September 29 was one of the most highly anticipated and equally highly rated shows on any cable network. The relevance of this factoid to event marketers is that you can’t expect a runaway success on the very first instance of any type of event, especially the ones that are seasonal or annual such as trade shows. Recurring events take time to build a following and they’re always a case of a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. The tip of the Heisen-iceberg. Any experienced event marketer will tell you that the show itself is only a small portion of what actually goes into the entire production as a properly produced event will be the culmination of months of concerted effort by a small army of employees. Walter based his cooking wizardry on his solid background in chemistry and similarly you have to base your event on a foundation of professionalism, experience, skill, and yes, let’s say it, some of Mr. White’s sheer luck sure helps.
  3. Reduce the supply to amp up the demand. The finale parties which were held all over the country were symbols to superlative marketing in every possible respect. Thousands of people got together to celebrate their dedication to a goatee-wearing actor on a network that most TV watchers barely knew even existed a few years ago. The lesson that can be learned in this case is from the finale party at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in California. The show’s stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as well as the show’s creator Vince Gilligan were present, and even through efforts to avoid scalping that reached DEA levels, there were still some tickets bandied around at a thousand dollars: to go watch a TV show and eat blue cotton candy. When you create an aura around your event that it’s super-exclusive, attendance is strictly limited, and the rest of the elite illusion, you can bet that people will be fighting over tickets to attend.
  4. Live for tomorrow. Mr. White had a terminal cancer diagnosis that was going to get him even if his own booby traps didn’t but you should steer clear of taking the types of risks that he did. Several times through the series, Walter took crazy risks and had his nearly impeccable luck take care of him but as an event marketer you have to plan in a cautious and forward-looking manner. Instead of blowing the entire budget on importing J.Lo. and her hundreds-strong entourage to fill your hall with attendees, you might want to concentrate on providing profound value and demonstrate elevated care for your customers in a well-produced event.
  5. Wrap it up, sonny. Years after those shows went off to syndication land, fans of The Sopranos and Lost are still arguing among themselves as to the levels of suction that their finales applied. After years of setting up situations which begged to be resolved The Sopranos ended with the family having a nice meal at Holsten’s and Lost ended … well it ended and no one really seems to know how. At least Mr. White took a bullet barrage and the bloodbath at the end certainly tied up most loose ends. When setting up an event, skip the bloodbath but make sure that you have an ending that the audience will cheer. Don’t just fade away into some ill-defined fuzziness (Dexter kills all those people and then becomes a lumberjack? Huh?) but create a rousing ending that will be memorable for your attendees and have them looking forward to your next production.

And don’t worry, that packet of Stevia is perfectly safe.