What Marketers Can Learn from Jared Leto

Jared Leto is a modern day renaissance man. The talented character actor who won widespread acclaim for performances in “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Requiem for a Dream” briefly paused his acting career to launch an equally successful music career as the front man of Thirty Seconds to Mars.

In 2012, Leto transitioned from actor to director with the fascinating documentary “Artifact.”  Meanwhile, Leto started developing his business acumen by launching a social media agency called The Hive and trying his hand at startup investment. He also finds time to be a prolific philanthropist.

Needless to say, Leto is a guy who knows how to make things happen, to draw from a variety of experiences to create things that are truly amazing. Earlier this month, Leto headlined a Los Angeles roundtable with industry leaders from  Facebook, Funny or Die, YouTube and CAA marketing (to name just a few).


Leto brought up two points that I think are absolutely crucial for marketers: take chances and connect the dots.

“You have this wide-open world and people don’t take more chances,” Leto bemoaned, noting that opportunities to network and create were everywhere. While plenty of brands and creatives take advantage of these opportunities, thousands more are missed – Leto uses the example of his social media presence.

“If I look at my Instagram right now, I get maybe 150,000 likes a photo, right? I’ve never been approached by a brand to do anything creative with my Instagram feed. Why? I’m a big believer that for platforms, whether it’s Spotify or Apple or Facebook or the coolest agency in the world, relationships with artists are always beneficial. But there is a conversation that’s not being had by lots of people.”

Even failure, Leto argues, is invaluable. “To be in the midst of that epic failure was a great opportunity to learn and learn,” he said of his experience with record labels.

“When commercials stop being advertising, they can be art,” Leto said, noting that it’s only the aversion to risk that creates obstacles. “If you’re paying attention to the rules, you’re not risking very much. So my job is to not follow rules, that’s the job of the artist.”

It’s no surprise that some of the best creative minds in marketing comes from those with a diverse background like Leto’s – musicians, comedians, artists, writers. How are we, as marketers, looking out for dormant opportunities and missed connections? It’s not always the easiest task – but it’s an indispensable step if we ever want our advertising to transcend into the realm of art.