Reality Show Concept: Marketing Island

Reality Show Concept: Marketing Island

Have you ever stopped to think about what a reality show would look like in the marketing world? A lot of internal discussions about marketing and sales alignment, debates about the value of leads, or why iOS14 has made ecommerce a completely different world? Sounds a tad boring to the casual viewer right? But let’s dig just a tad deeper. What motivates marketers? What are the stories of marketers that are often untold? How does marketing relate to the network audience in a way that has us cheering on our favorite personalities, second guessing their decisions, and crying along with them during the process? Of course we’d mix in a tropical island to add some juice. Hear me out. Here’s a concept that would allow a marketing reality show to actually work.

Show Intro

The credits roll with a series of island shots with the track “We Own It” by 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa playing. Each of the contestants are shown in home videos of their childhood, up to present day as they’ve worked up the ranks in the marketing world. It will pump us up as we get a visual glimpse into the real lives of marketers and how they live inside and outside of the game. Following the intro credits we learn about our contestants as they are brought into their exotic location by speed boats.

Show Premise

16 marketers are marooned on an island together. From all different seniorities, walks of life, and skillsets these strangers must learn to work together to create inspiring marketing campaigns. But nothing is what it seems on this island. With a $10 million prize, the marketing teams can work together or choose to eat themselves with hostile takeovers forcing teammates to wear more hats as they go. The less marketers at the end means the bigger take for those who survive the 6 week challenge. Just like in the real world of marketing, many of the twists and turns will be removed from the marketers control. Their ability to adapt on the island will prove crucial in their chance at winning the grand prize.

The contestants will initially be broken up into two teams:

  • The Specialists: Marketers that all have under 10 years of marketing experience, looking to make a splash. Their expertise will likely be in modern marketing practices such as digital media, paid media, social media, search, etc.
  • The Veterans: A team of leaders with 10+ experience in the field ranging from Sr. to Executive level roles. Their expertise will range from older school marketing practices to modern day techniques.

During the first day of the marooning, the teams will each need to nominate a CMO for their team. The leader is given control of budget, staffing decisions, and will be a spokesperson for team moving forward. Knowing that the only way to claim the grand prize is to survive the six weeks, the CMO is immediately tasked incorporating a marketing strategy. Is the objective to surge sales, build brand, go all-in on one platform, or allow for omni-channel marketing? The decision will be tough as each season will incorporate a new start-up company across very different marketing verticals. The question will be asked. Can a true marketer really market anything? Is age a factor in leadership? Or will talent shine through?

To add some drama, the teams will be tasked with evaluating their CMO at all times. They can choose to create a “hostile takeover” at any point in which the team unanimously votes to overthrow the CMO off the island. At this point, the public will instead vote to elect the next CMO. By doing so, the opportunity to win more money at the end of the game increases. But as your team shrinks, so could your productivity. Can you win challenges while playing outnumbered?

The Challenges

Challenges will be aplenty on the island. Every 2-3 days the teams will need to conclude a campaign on the island. These will be presentations in which the CMO will lead each team in showcasing their work to the public. An example of a challenge would be “Create a trending hashtag and concept for UGC consumption.” The hashtag is then utilized by the public for over the next 24 hours. The hashtag that generated the most UGC impressions or sales, wins the challenge.

Little do the teams know that nothing comes easy on Marketing Island. The team phase is only a temporary phase for the first three weeks of the competition. At this point the teams will be forced to merge, in which there cannot be two CMOs. The team that has won the majority of the challenges will absorb the losing team’s management. At this point the team that won this phase will be tasked with deciding who is kept from the losing team and who is booted from the island. This could result in someone with 10 years less experience managing a marketing veteran. Or the result could be more conventional. With the public voting on challenge results, they are independent of any resumes and only focus on results.

The Twists

As we mentioned nothing is easy on Marketing Island. So it is only fitting that a number of twists take place throughout the program. Here are the key highlights:

  • Marketers Decisions: As we grow fond of certain contestants we will learn more about what drives them throughout the program. This show will not only be an outlet for entertainment, but it is an outlet for their careers. As select employers watch the show they will have the opportunity to make a job offer to the contestants. For instance, a contestant that has said they always wanted to do marketing in a travel, could get an offer from a major hotel chain during the program. Easy decision right? Not so much. By accepting a job on the island, the contestant forfeits their chance to win the grand prize of $10 million. Will they chase passion or will they chase the bag? If they choose to chase passion, the rest of the contestants will only be told digitally that their team member has left without getting an official goodbye.
  • Marketing Bombshells: Marketing bombshells “or new contestants” will regularly enter the program at any given moment. These contestants will have an opportunity to upend marketing teams, and are given a very limited amount of time to prove their worth on the island. Consider them consultants who have been watching from afar and feel they could add something to the mix. After 48 hours the public will decide if the Marketing Bombshells are voted onto the island. If so, it will cost another contestants chance at the prize. This decision will be left up to the CMO.
  • Party!: What is it being on an island without some temptation? Contestants will be offered a stay in paradise with regular opportunities to party, network, and live like kings and queens. Will their ability to party with fellow contestants actually built sustained relationships, or will it lead to detrimental work production? Will those who keep their head down and focus have a true advantage in their efforts?

Okay Andy so how do you win?

I’m glad you asked! Unlike other mainstream reality shows, this game allows contestants to either win as a team or as a sole unit. There will be a specific marketing goal at the end of the show that must be hit. If the ROI goal is achieved it unleashes the prize money on the final day. But here’s the catch. Only the public know how close the contestants really are to the goal. If a team is consolidated to the point of a skeleton crew it would force someone to do the absurd management of social media, traditional media, search, organic, etc. Can someone really wear that many hats? How risky is it to play selfish in this game of marketing, or is teamwork the only way to success? Additionally, we run the risk of losing many great contestants with job offers as the show goes on. We may feel like we got robbed of something special with contestants choosing their passions over the bag.

This game will be the ultimate test in how marketers can pivot, strategize, and learn in a very expedited format. The winner of Marketing Island will have truly survived everything the world of marketing throws at you.

I’m curious on your thoughts about Marketing Island? Is this realistic enough for the marketing professionals, but captivating enough for the mainstream audience? CBS and NBCUniversal you can thank me for the idea later!



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