A Marketing Lesson From “The Big Short” Every Company Should Implement

How employees multiply brands

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

A blockbuster based on the greatest economic crisis in recent history can only be a crash course on behavioral economics, personal finance, macroeconomics, and the stock market. Sounds about right, eh?

But that’s the amazing thing about marketers: we try to find valuable marketable information in everything. To better understand how I reinstated an almost ancient social media tactic (in the company that I am consulting for) after watching this movie, let’s first understand an important concept.

Synthetic CDOs

Being an economics student (not a good one, though), I watched The Big Short four times to fully understand some of the concepts that were talked about in that movie.

I understood that the economic crisis was caused by deregulation in the financial sector, which led to the growth of sub-prime mortgages. Synthetic CDOs were a major ingredient to prepare this recipe for disaster. Investopedia defines them as:

“A synthetic CDO, sometimes called a collateralized debt obligation, invests in non-cash assets to obtain exposure to a portfolio of fixed-income assets. It is one kind of collateralized debt obligation (CDO) — a structured product that combines cash-generating assets that are repackaged into pools and sold to investors.”

If you are like me, and the above definition didn’t make any sense to you, then Selena Gomez and the father of behavioral economics, Robert H. Thaler, might be able to help.

Do you see how the investment is multiplied?

After watching the video, you would have noticed that an initial investment of $10 million converted into billions of dollars because multiple people gambled on someone else’s bet.

Employee Advocacy Program

This reminded me of an SMM tactic that everyone uses or has used, albeit on a small scale; small enough to not give it a name. Almost all small and medium enterprises ask their employees to post about their company’s products/services on their personal social media accounts.

When this practice is formalized and is carried on a company-wide level, it is given the name of The Employee Advocacy Program. This has been in existence ever since the term social media marketing was coined.

How “The Big Short” made me think about this?

I am mentioning this again because this is important. Remember how an initial investment of 10 million dollars converted into billions of dollars?

Similarly, it reminded me that the easiest and cheapest way to grow social media reach organically is by starting an employee advocacy program. This one-of-a-kind marketing tactic works on the premise that we can create a buzz by leveraging employees and their social media accounts.

At its helm, employees who voluntarily enroll in this project are given curated content which is approved and created by the marketing team, and they share this content on their personal social media accounts.

This creates a ripple effect

If a company has an organic digital reach of 3,000–4,000 people, then using the employee advocacy program, it can be increased to more than 34,000 people in a matter of months.


  1. 50 employees share content on four major social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter).
  2. A minimum of two posts shared every week for 100 days.
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Hootsuite Amplify reach calculator

The larger the number of employees, the larger the ripple. Big companies have deployed this strategy successfully. Reebok encourages its employees to wear its merchandise and upload images on Instagram.

Cisco and Dell were pretty big on their employee advocacy campaigns. Heck, even B2B companies do it! If everyone can do it, then what’s your excuse?

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Cisco’s Employee Advocacy Program. Source: Instagram

The best marketers know how to look for and draw inspiration from their surroundings. I am not one of the best marketers. I am not even a professional marketer (not yet). I just got lucky.

All thanks to The Big Short.

Written by

23 | Ex-Google Ads Strategist who fell in love with Marketing, Football & Basketball. I also write a weekly newsletter that talks about Business & Marketing.

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