With David Brent: Life on the Road released in cinemas this week, we thought we’d take the opportunity to see what we can learn from the Brentmeister General when it comes to marketing.

Now a sales rep for a Slough-based cleaning products distributor called Lavichem, Brent no doubt knows a thing or two about marketing. So does his creator Ricky Gervais, as the Life on the Road campaign has proved.

These marketing lessons, then, are a mixture of ‘tips’ from Gervais and Brent if that makes sense? Maybe this GIF will help:

David Brent

Go out of your way to share positive feedback

Gervais and Brent are similar in that they both have an ability to not be affected by criticism or ridicule – not outwardly anyway. Life on the Road has received a mixed response from critics so far, but Gervais isn’t willing to entertain the negative press – he’s too busy sharing the positive feedback.

While brands can’t afford to ignore the negative feedback in the way Gervais and Brent do, they can (and should) be going out of their way to share positive comments about the product/service on social media.

Many of the reviews Gervais has retweeted on Twitter do not include his handle (@rickygervais) or the Life on the Road hashtag (#LifeOnTheRoad) which suggests that he spends some time searching out the positive content. It’s a smart move – looking at his Twitter feed, it suggests that Life on the Road has received universal praise.

Can we do something similar with our social media feeds and give prospects a great first impression as they look for some reassurance about our organisations?

Make the most of user-generated content

As well as posting reviews from critics, Gervais has shared plenty of user-generated content (UGC). As much as everything else, it keeps things varied. As every good social media manager should, Gervais re-shares content, but you don’t want to share the same piece of content too often, or it’ll give your feed a tired look, and your followers will get bored of being exposed to the same piece of content time after time.

UGC keeps things fresh while allowing you to keep up with the rate at which customers demand new content. It also encourages a more personal bond between you and your customers.

Gervais knows that by posting a healthy flow of UGC, others will share Life on the Road-related content with their followers, in the hope of Gervais giving them a retweet. It’s a win-win.


Don’t be scared of bringing back a successful campaign

Gervais took a chance in deciding to bring back Brent. However, it looks like it’ll pay off. Twitter quickly got on board with the idea, giving Brent his own emoji, which appears whenever the #BrentsBack hashtag is used.

Brent himself took a chance in resurrecting his band Foregone Conclusion. We’ve yet to see the film, but we don’t hold out much hope that it proved a wise move, with Gervais revealing he cashed in all his pension investments to fund his band’s tour….

However, brands stand a better chance of enjoying some success by bringing back a successful campaign or character.

Speaking to Marketing Week about bringing back old characters specifically, Vince Kerrigan, strategic solutions manager at agency Vital Communication, said: “Heritage is important for brands as it establishes an emotional connection with audiences, as well as helping form a platform to communicate core brand values.

“While brands shouldn’t just rely on what has worked in the past, using it as a way to reinvent itself can be beneficial when targeting new audiences in an emotional sense.”

A small detail can go a long way

As part of the campaign for Life on the Road, Gervais and the film company behind it created Brent business cards, complete with Lavichem branding. It’s only a small detail in terms of the overall campaign, but fans of Gervais and The Office have been desperate to get their hands on one of the cards.


Note that there’s even the +44 number code included, because Brent is an international salesman. Obviously.

As well as scattering the Brent business cards, the marketing team delivered Life on the Road beermats to local boozers, complete with iconic, pub-friendly quotes.

It’s this sort of attention to detail which we think will make Life on the Road a raging success. Sure, the Brent character is good enough in its own right to make money, but Gervais is not leaving anything to chance. Brands have much to learn from the campaign.