If you’ve ever watched Parks and Recreation, you know how diverse the characters are. Some are enthusiastic and passionate, while others secretly try to dismantle the parks department from within. Although it’s surprising, the dynamic of this group makes their work efficient and entertaining at the same time.

From capitalism to consumer choice, Leslie Knope and her team are ready to serve the members of their community. Because some members of the team are more dedicated than others, Leslie is always thinking of new ways to get her team motivated and as enthusiastic about their work as she is.

During the numerous times I’ve cycled through the show’s seven seasons, I’ve discovered a number of lessons from the show that also apply to marketing.

1. Branding

Throughout the show there are numerous examples of good, and surprisingly bad, branding. Pawnee, Indiana, (where the show takes place) is home to some of the heaviest people in America (they had the first case ever of super diabetes), and boy do they have no shame. Their local fast food joint, Paunch Burger, specializes in a few out-of-pocket menu items like ‘The Greasy Lard Bomb,” and a slogan that reads ‘Put it in your mouth or you’re a nerd.’

Surprisingly, many people of Pawnee enjoy this restaurant and take no offense to the fact that this establishment thrives off of their unhealthy habits. The moral to this story is, you really have to understand your audience, because what offends you, might not offend them.

2. Rebranding

Leslie Knope tries to make a positive impact in her community when their town is presented with the opportunity to join water reservoirs with their sister town, Eagleton. Eagleton’s water has fluoride in it, while Pawnees does not. Unfortunately, another Pawnee council member owns a dental practice, and tries to convince the town to vote against merging reservoirs to maintain his large list of citizens with cavities who give him business.

To get the public on his side, Councilman Jam uses scare tactics in his marketing strategy and tries to convince his community that Leslie Knope is trying to put dangerous chemicals in their water.

Leslie isn’t backing down without a fight, and brings in her colleague Tom to help rebrand fluoride water into something exciting. Tom successfully rebrands fluoride into “TDazzle,” and, with a catchy theme song and an exciting commercial, the public starts to see the silver lining.

If your product or service isn’t all that exciting, you can use creative marketing strategies to excite your audience and peak their interest.

3. Marketing In Entrepreneurship

Tom Haverford, an underachiever and government official on Leslie’s team, is always coming up with new business ideas for the marketing strategy he refers to as “life.”

Here are a few:

  • A department store with a guest list.
  • Club-A-Dub-Dub: a submarine themed club.
  • Talking Tissues: a tissue box that shares motivational quotes.
  • Kahlua Liquor called Snake Juice.
  • Saltweens: saltine crackers for teens.

Tom eventually invests in a local nightclub called The Snakehole Lounge, but realizes he doesn’t have enough money. He creatively tries to entice his coworkers to be partner investors with him, but unfortunately goes about it all wrong. His investment partner, John Ralphio, is not the partner Tom needed. Together, their obnoxious marketing tactics with fireworks and women in bikinis does not translate to his coworkers, and nobody invests.

It’s important to understand your audience. A marketing tactic that works with one group of people, may totally turn the next group off to your product or service. Do your research, and try to relate to the people you’re marketing to.

4. Consumer Choice

Local restaurants like Paunch Burger decided to upsize their soda options after their parent company Sweetums presents new cup sizes. Leslie decides to meet with the head of the restaurants association to express her concern about the new cup sizes.

A size small is now 64 ounces to give consumers more bang for their buck. However, if they want less liquid, for only five cents less, they can get ‘The Little Swallow’ a nine ounce cup. The size regular is 128 ounces, better known as a gallon. And just when you thought that was a lot of soda, they can order the ‘child’ size, weighing in at 512 ounces.

This is a great example of how some marketing strategies try to manipulate consumer choice. Oftentimes, consumers are blinded by what may seem like a deal or bargen and don’t realize the full gravity of their choice. To see a clip from this episode of Parks and Rec, click here.

Marketing is quite the tool when used properly, but it’s your job as the marketer to understand your audience and what marketing strategies will work best. It’s also important to build relationships with your audience through responsible marketing efforts, unlike some of the more outrageous antics in the show.