Impact-driven visual comedian — Rowan Atkinson (lessons for marketers)
I consider myself more of a visual comedian than a physical one. — Rowan Atkinson
Mr. Bean. My mom used to play it on a loop for me when I was a kid. She was free to go about her day. I was occupied with Mr. Bean. My dad was a huge fan too. Every time someone changed the channel on the remote, if Mr. Bean was playing we watched. I used to call him Beanie Boy when I was young.
Only later as I grew older did I realize that there were only 15 episodes. Only 15!!! Mind-boggling. Mr. Bean’s comedic prowess cut through religions, cultures, and nation-state borders. You didn’t need to understand the language. Mr. Bean rarely spoke. He captured the audience, visually.
It doesn’t matter what mood I was in, how sad I was, Mr. Bean aka Rowan Atkinson just had to appear on the screen and I would be a fit of laughter. I remember waiting outside the oncologist's office for the result of my mother’s PET scan. Mr. Bean was playing on the TV. I forgot what I was there for. We just sat there and laughed. Mom’s report turned out clean btw :)
Who can forget the 2012 London Olympics? ROFL! I can’t! Wiping tears of laughter as I write this! Best post I have written!
Chariots of Fire was played by the London Symphony Orchestra with a twist. That was British humor and Mr. Bean at his best!
The real impact of Rowan is his ability to unify the world through visual comedy. His genius is clearly visible in how he niched down within the comedic space. Marketers and content creators can certainly learn a few things from Rowan Atkinson.
Lesson 1 — Less is More!
Mr. Bean had 15 episodes total. They made Rowan Atkinson famous. His net worth is estimated to be $150 million. There is a popular misconception that you have to create content all the time and on all the networks to be successful. Mr. Bean proves less is more.
Lesson 2 — Content for Impact
Create content for impact. The impact of Mr. Bean on the audience is undeniable. Laughter. Whether you have been a long-time fan or just started. Mr. Bean makes you laugh and the desired impact is achieved.
Lesson 3 — Keep it simple
The original 15 episodes were so deceptively simple. Therefore relatable. Trying to copy for a math exam from another student. Going to a swimming pool. Tries to jump the queue at a hospital waiting room. And so on.
Lesson 4 — Lightning Strike
The series was aired in over 250 countries and on over 50 airlines. You are tired, bored, cranky on a long-haul flight. You start watching Mr. Bean. You instantly feel better and forget the time go by. It's popular 30 years later. It was the lightning strike that has stood the test of time. It’s relevant.
Lesson 5 — Adapt
Mr. Bean was originally created for TV viewing. Today is on digital platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Here are some numbers:
- Mr. Bean has over 137 million digital followers globally
- 30 million subscribers in 3 Youtube channels, over 11 billion lifetime views
- Facebook’s number one TV brand — 98 million fans
Mr. Bean did all this without changing the heart of what made it great. Rowan Atkinson’s impact-driven category — visual comedy.
Rowan Atkinson has impacted the world. He did so mostly without speaking a word. He used the most basic human emotion — laughter. We’ve all heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. Scientific evidence suggests laughter:
- Helps us live longer
- Relaxes our body
- Relieves stress
- Boosts immune system
- Triggers release of endorphins
Laughter makes us HAPPY. Content creation doesn’t have to be complicated. It needs to be rooted in human emotion and connect with that emotion. Here’s why Mr. Bean truly is a category creator and leader — it's almost impossible to replicate. I would like to thank Mr. Bean and Rowan Atkinson for being a continuous source of laughter and bonding in my life! The world needs more moments of unifying laughter.
Rowan Atkinson says it best: “Mr. Bean is essentially a child trapped in the body of a man. All cultures identify with children in a similar way, so he has this bizarre global outreach.”