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Jack Reacher helped me see the real power of marketing

jack reacher

It was early January. I was going to watch Jack Reacher at the movie theatre. I’ve read most of the books, and I had a very good idea what I expected the movie to be like. But, I had no idea why Lee Child would let Tom Cruise play the part as Jack Reacher… until I realized that it was brilliant marketing.

The painter and the musician

I have some friends, they’re brilliant at what they’re doing. One is a painter, the other is a musician. They keep doing what they’ve always done, and even though they are getting more experienced, they’re not selling much. When it comes to business, I don’t know much about painting, and I don’t know much about music. But, what I do know, is that they should both look to Jack Reacher to understand how to manage their business.

Why Tom Cruise is the perfect Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher is 6’5″, he weighs 220-250 lbs and his chest is 50″. His hair is dirty-blond. Does this sound like Tom Cruise?

The thing is. Tom Cruise is famous.

A lot more people want to see a movie starring Tom Cruise than a movie starring an unknown actor. A lot more people want to watch a movie with Tom Cruise than a movie about a book and a character they haven’t heard of. I know that both Lee Child and his character Jack Reacher has thousands of fans, all across the globe, but Tom Cruise has a lot more fans.

So, from a marketing perspective, a lot more people will see the movie, and start reading the books, because of Tom Cruise.

On the other hand, if someone had asked me who I would picture in the role as Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise would probably have been the last person on earth on my mind.

Tom Cruise makes Jack Reacher even more famous

The movie was ok. It was a good action movie. I love the books, and I have always thought that a movie about Jack Reacher would be fantastic. The movie wasn’t fantastic. But, adding a star like Tom Cruise will help get a lot more attention to the movie and to the books. And, the next movie, even though it might not have Tom Cruise in it, will be a major hit at the box office.

The painter and the musician should find a Tom Cruise for their first Jack Reacher. Paint a different painting. Sing a different song. Find a super star, a mentor, and join forces, even though it might be as far from what they’re doing as they thought was possible. Remember, 6’5″, 220-250 lbs, 50″ chest and dirty-blond hair. Sometimes, the opposite is the best solution for our marketing.

31 responses to “Jack Reacher helped me see the real power of marketing”

  1. Mark Storey says:


    If you’re marketing online products, with no geographic boundaries, then social networking tools/strategies are imperitive to get the word out to lots and lots of people. As folks retweet items like your blog entry, see status updates on Facebook, and video on YouTube, then more ‘mouths,’ become aware of your product, and credibility for you/your items travels with the people who recommend/refer you virtually through the social networking tools.

    However, if you’re product/service is a regional item, then face to face word of mouth marketing, combined with social networking, is important. Referral partner relationships with people in other companies that provide services to your target market without competing with you are very powerful. As referral partners teach each other about the benefits of their products/services, and target markets, they are better able to make high quality, profitable referrals for each other.

    I like to ask my referral partners what type of reward is most meaningful to them. I know of two referral partners who like spa days, so they alter who pays for their combined spa day each month. They both value that reward, they continue to refer a lot of business back and forth, and they enjoy a day off together.

    Some companies offer affiliate programs and have a set program to reward people who make referrals. That’s equitable, if a bit impersonal.

    Mark Storey
    Professor Networker

    • Hi Mark,

      Awesome comment. Thanks a lot.

      At the moment, I’m trying to start a word of mouth campaign at the college where I work. Will write a post about it sometime during next week.

      – Jens –

  2. It is not that good. It does for my San Francisco catering business, but unless your business doesnt really work with it like catering, then i would stay away.

  3. Word of mouth really works wonders but it depends on which kind of product you are working with. for e.g. If its a beauty product not only free sample and marketing ads work but when one lady suggest using the product to another lady. you can be sure that you have got the sale. This is because it gives you surety of the product as well as the confidence. And other things that works is “If one of my best friend uses it then I should definitely use it. So word or mouth no doubts works great in brand promoting and Marketing

  4. jangeronimo says:

    Cultivating a network of infuencers? People who have built-in readership and whose words carry weight among their followers. Of course, it helps if you’re marketing a great idea or product. You’re right about Facebook. It’s a lot more personal. And if something is shared on Facebook via comments, likes, or updates, then that’s a good thing. Because it’s a bit more intimate there than the other social media. The challenge is to get the attention of key people there, which might be difficult sometimes because they’re preoccupied with their farms, robbing banks, and trying their luck in poker. LOL

  5. Eric Tipon says:

    I guess this is what you call MOUTHOLOGY! – the new viral marketing tool 😉

  6. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, I have read Jack Reacher books and I have to admit that I never pictured Tom Cruise in the role. But that’s what fiction is all about, right? Imagination.

    I don’t know whom I would cast with that physical description. Perhaps this is a lesson for us not to include precise physical descriptions in our fiction writing to give casting agents more leeway.

    Which actor would you cast as Jack Reacher, Jens?

  7. Lisa says:

    That makes sense Jens, people always ask before going to see a movie “who’s in it?” before they ask “what’s in the movie?”. I wonder how we can apply that to our blogs. You got me thinking again Jens. People must gravitate what they are comfortable with rather than the unknown.

    • That’s exactly why I believe it was a brilliant move by Lee Child to get Tom Cruise to star as Jack Reacher. I am not a Tom Cruise fan, but he’s no doubt one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

      It got me thinking about using some sort of celebrity pitch as part of blogging, but I’m not sure exactly how 🙂

  8. Bill Dorman says:

    Hey, you were supposed to list me as a brilliant friend under insurance……..:).

    I read one of the books about 2 mos ago; I didn’t even know about them but it was pretty cool. I haven’t seen the movie. Maybe I’ll wait until I can rent it and turn it into a pizza night at the movies, huh?

  9. Adrienne says:

    I know what you mean Jens although I’ve never reach any of the books.

    There have been several I’ve read and then the movie comes out and I never pictured the person they chose as the lead. But like you mentioned, it’s because of who that will draw to the box office just so they can see their favorite actor.

    We all need to put more of that into our marketing. Point taken.

    Sorry you didn’t enjoy the movie as much but still hope it was good.


    • Hey Adrienne,

      Yes, the movie wasn’t as good as the book, but it was still a good movie. I understand why Tom Cruise is in the movie. He is one of the most famous actors in the world, and any movie will be at the top of the box office as long as he is in it 🙂

  10. Justin says:

    Hi Jens,
    So true. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I probably will because I like movies that feature Tom Cruise. Like you said with your artist friends, they are getting better at what they are doing, yet they aren’t making much money doing it.

    I believe marketing ourselves is more important than getting better at our craft.

    • Hey Justin. That’s right. The marketing is more important than ever, and that’s mostly because the competition is harder than ever. We used to compete locally, now we’re competing globally on close to everything. So, we need to think different.

  11. Hoffman says:

    I see your point, Jens, but would have hard time applying it to a business.

    I think finding our Tom Cruise is an easy advice to give, yet too intangible to put into practice.

    • Hi Ana,

      Yes, finding our Tom Cruise is an easy advice to give, but what I had in mind was more like thinking outside the box and doing more or less the opposite of what you first thought you were going to do. Jack Reacer in Lee Child’s mind is more or less the complete opposite of Tom Cruise. But because Lee Child (or someone else) thought that it was a better idea to use someone other than what he had in mind, the movie will be much bigger and they’ll earn a lot more money. So, it’s not really about using a famous person, but doing something completely different 🙂

  12. Jens – I love that you incorporated and wrote about something you love (the Reacher books) and how you incorporated it into what you write about (marketing). Although, I do think it’s tough to get a famous person to promote your work. Maybe if your painter friend painted a famous person (like Kate Middleton) or something, that would/could be a foot in the door of getting someone famous to promote their work. A great idea in theory, just a really hard one to implement without a lot of money or klout. Don’t you think?

    • Hi Tracy,

      I am sorry about the late reply. I agree with you, it’s hard to get a famous person to promote our work. And the only reason why Lee Child had this opportunity was because he is already famous, and his books are awesome. And that’s why we need to focus on creating high quality content first, that’s how we get opportunities like this.

      I like what you said about painting a famous person, or maybe creating the story (in a book, or in music) about a famous person. That will most likely get us more attention…

      My thought when I wrote this was that we should look for opportunities that we usually don’t see. And for Lee Child it was adding someone to play the main character that was close to the opposite, and a person Lee Child probably never had in mind when he wrote the book – famous person or not. Sometimes we just need to look in a completely different direction to find the best possible answer.

      Does this make any sense? 🙂

  13. Devid says:

    Fantastic post and best blog! I happen to be a daily visitor to your blog (somewhat more like addict 😛 ) of this blog. Just wanted to say I appreciate your blogs and am looking forward for more to come!

  14. Elementality says:

    So basically, get someone famous to sponsor you and that’s good marketing? Sounds like an old school tactic that only works to a certain extent, the actual story has to be good, not to mention the performance and distribution which would allow all these people to watch a movie with Tom Cruise…

  15. Azubuike says:

    Hi, am not really a movie lover and doesn’t know much about Jack Reacher and Tom Cruise but with your article I think it’s a great way to understand more about latest movies

  16. Silver Bear says:

    The books are always better than the films, it the same with all the Tom Clancy novels that have been made into feature films, they always leave out the parts that add substance to the books…

  17. Jose says:

    Good post about Jack Reacher and very good blog!

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