By Cyndi Pyburn

2016 saw the end of one of Hollywood’s Golden Couples.  When Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, the world was shocked. 

While Brangelina seemed like the ‘perfect’ couple, aligned on kids, charities and movie making, clearly there was a ‘chink in the relationship armour’.  In fact, it seems that Angelina embraced some basic ‘research & marketing’ principles to ‘outsmart’ her husband [marketers take note]:

  • 10 Steps Ahead – this allows you to be in control and plan in advance for potential pitfalls (no pun intended). Right after an Awards night while all eyes are on celebrity gossip, she announces her divorce plans.
  • Visualize Success – A PR genius she is. She has her own goal of wanting a job with the United Nations but needs full custody of the children before she leaves the USA.
  • Package to Persuade – best media manipulator in the world – a woman leaving her husband for ‘the health of the family’.
  • Play the three strikes rule – poor parenting, sordid rumours of an affair with co-star Marion Cotillard, and a fondness for vices (prostitutes, drugs & alcohol) – of course striking out in these three areas would lend Jolie support.
  • UTA – A unique trusted advisor is a coveted relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Whether or not there was an argument or more drama on the plane with their son, a team they should be.  She had seamlessly switched from Team Brad to Team Hague …. a critical UTA stepping stone to her desired position with the UN.

If only Brad had been armed with some skills regarding clarity, action and ROMI (not return on marketing investment, but marriage investment).  But hey marketers, there are similarities and lessons to be learned from this.

  • Scoping – understand the full situation. Know what you are getting into.  Ask the right questions.  Come on, Angelina is one unique individual with a unique history.  Don’t be blinded by the obvious.   Dig deeper to understand the ‘true’ Angelina and the baggage that comes along with her.
  • Contracting – understand what you value together. In the case of Brangelina, what will your parenting style be?  Where do you ultimately want to live and raise your kids? 
  • Own the Problem –With a marriage on the rocks, figure out why and take the steps necessary to attempt to save it. While Mr. & Mrs. Smith brought them together, did Allied tear them apart?  I’m sure we’ve seen this movie before!

Things change, situations change, people change.  But keeping it ‘real’ and handling change with integrity sets you apart.  At the end of this drama, Brad will prevail.   Why?  Three reasons [marketer’s take note]:

  1. He’s doing the right thing – taking the ‘high road’. We haven’t heard a single leak or story from his side that is damaging to her character.  This is a woman who has been publicly proclaimed as mentally ill by her own father, with two ex-husbands, obvious eating issues and a well-documented history with heroin.  She should be an easy target.  But this speaks to Brad’s character. He is not assassinating his wife, the mother of his six children.
  1. He’s playing by the rules – honouring the temporary separation/child custody agreement with supervised visitation and individual counselling.
  1. He’s the real deal – he is well regarded, loved by the public, continues to make movies that people want to see and remains one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. He has been praised by Angelina and others repeatedly over the years for being an extraordinary father.  No one apart from Angelina believes he deserves the media turmoil that has ensued. 

One might reasonably reflect that his wife is the one who has changed and that she is blinded by ambition, at any cost [marketer’s take note].