Marketing is…Herculean

Last week I was reminded, by my boss, of my long lost love for Greek and Roman mythology. Coupled with watching the excellent “300” for the first time, I started comparing what I do and what I write about, with what I used to read about.

Which logically got me wondering how the two would translate. So here are the Twelve Labours of Hercules, if Hercules was a marketer.


In my mind, it’s a great allegory because the tasks of Hercules were seen as a great penance for an unthinkable wrong. Hercules himself was seen as clever, playful figure who would cheat or use any unfair advantage to get what he wanted.

In the modern day, marketers are often seen as having something to be repentant for, and for cheating and using any advantage (fair or foul) for their own good.

Hercules was also supposed to finish his 10 (not 12) tasks alone but the presence of outside help for two of his labours meant he had to perform two additional tasks.

On the flip side, marketers often have agencies to create even more work for them!

The Twelve Labours of Marketers:

Slay the Nemean Lion and bring back its hide.

The modern-day Hercules must defeat an aggressive foe and bring proof of their success – is there a better metaphor for media relations?

Slay the Lernaean Hydra.

The hydra had many heads that grew back as soon as one was cut off – sounds like an all-agency review to me!

Capture the Ceryneian Hind.

Hercules chased the elusive hind throughout Greece for one year before finally capturing it – anyone who’s worked with a tier one publication for a huge feature story will know how this feels. And the vindication that comes with success.

Capture the Erymanthian Boar.

To do this, Hercules needed to eat and drink with the centaurs before realising he had to drive the boar into a snow drift to win. Today’s version? Consulting with a wise agency on the best way to get your company to start a blog – before driving your boss into a snow drift of reason and supporting information.

Clean the Augean stables in a single day.

Getting rid of all the horse-shitake and leaving the place as good as new? Must be time to clean up those lists – lead generation or media, depending on where you are.

Slay the Stymphalian Birds.

Man-eating birds with claws of brass and sharp metallic feathers? Who spew toxic dung? Hello blogger relations programme!

Capture the Cretan Bull.

Hercules’s labour was simple – capture a wild bull that was wrecking havoc on the island of Crete. Your task – get on top of the ad-agency whose poorly-planned media buy is wrecking your brand.

Steal the Mares of Diomedes.

This task called for Hercules to steal a herd of man-eating horses from a murderous king. How about snagging that all important media-partnership from under your rival’s nose?

Obtain the Girdle of Hippolyte.

Hippolyte was so impressed with Hercules’s muscles and lion skin that she gave him what he wanted without a fight – rather like the marketing team approached to do a co-promotion with Apple.

Obtain the Cows of Geryon.

Geryon was a giant with three bodies and three heads who herded magnificent red cattle. Once Hercules had killed him and stolen his cattle, Hera sent a fly to sting every single one of the cattle which scattered them up. Hercules had to round them up, all over again – just like a product recall.

Steal the Apples of the Hesperides.

Hire a competitor’s Public Relations director – with the help of a talented recruitment agent who can take the weight of the world of their shoulders!

Capture Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hades, and bring him back.

Congratulations, you just got your promotion to the C-suite!

Do you think you can complete your 12 Labours?

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One Response to Marketing is…Herculean

  1. Parker says:

    Damn, Ed…I don’t know which post is better: this or your recent pizza one!

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