Super Bowl 52: Winners and Losers on the Big Stage

What a game! I had no rooting interest on the field this year, so I was happy to enjoy the back-and-forth action that went down to the wire. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on the franchise’s first championship! Now let’s move on to the competitors who paid big bucks to catch a piece of the action — and the audience’s purchasing power.

Icelandic Vikings on The All-New Ram 1500

Winners

  • The Ram Trucks commercial had it all: natural product integration, a journey to the Super Bowl, a compelling story, great music and a not-so-subtle jab at the home team. It even contained a strong call-to-action (CTA), inviting viewers to watch the full story on its website.
  • “It’s a Tide ad.” A laundry detergent company won the Super Bowl. Tide ran a commercial in every quarter telling viewers how every other ad was actually a Tide ad. Its efforts spilled over to social media, as other brands started to join the conversation, realizing their own ads were actually Tide ads. What’s even better than telling a great story? Other people (and brands) telling your story for you. Plus, Tide’s dominance helped take attention off the ridiculous Tide Pod Challenge, which the company only mentioned on social (smart move).

  • Doritos and Mountain Dew joined forces in the rap battle to end all rap battles. Peter Dinklage (Doritos Blaze) and Morgan Freeman (Mountain Dew Ice) showcased two new products in a joint 60-second spot, inviting viewers to vote for their favorite (#SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD) on social. And vote they did! The two PepsiCo brands won Twitter’s inaugural BrandBowl by driving the highest velocity of most-tweets-per-minute. The spot was entertaining, introduced new products to a receptive audience, integrated well with social and contained a strong CTA. Who did you vote for: #SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD?
  • Wendy’s roasted its main competitor with McDonald’s own website. If you follow the fast food brand on Twitter, its commercial continued the same sassy tone that the brand is known for. Brand voice needs to be consistent across all platforms and marketing vehicles, and Wendy’s is all in. Now millions of Super Bowl viewers know where to go for fresh, never frozen beef — and it’s not the Frozen, er Golden Arches.
  • The NFL had a long and controversial season, but the league was a big winner on Super Bowl Sunday with a thrilling game and epic commercial. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. have big plans in Touchdown Celebrations to Come. The league teased the commercial throughout the game, piquing the audience’s interest, and then nailed its moment (just like Eli and OBJ did). This campaign had it all: nostalgia, a big market team, two popular stars, an iconic movie and a reminder there are more touchdowns to come next season, which isn’t that far away.

Iconic FDNY (Fire Dept of New York) Rescue

  • Verizon answered the call by dedicating its Super Bowl spot to first responders. The telecommunications company connected survivors with first responders who saved their lives, so they could say thanks. It was a powerful ad that highlighted often unsung heroes and had a strong connection to the brand. (This is important with any ad to avoid a disconnect with the viewing audience.) Listening to the phone calls between survivors and first responders made us smile, and we join with Verizon in offering #AllOurThanks to first responders everywhere.
  • Budweiser highlighted its corporate responsibility efforts by showcasing its water donation program. The King of Beers has delivered cans of water to areas hit by natural disasters for 30 years and is adding another brewery to its program by the end of 2018. The company’s social platforms carried the message further, inviting visitors to learn more about its program and donate to relief efforts. The initial notes of Stand By You grabbed viewers’ attention and the heart-warming (and timely) message made us feel good, even without its famous Clydesdales. (Don’t worry, the famous Clydesdales did appear in Beer Country online.)

Losers

  • How does a company win and lose in the same game? Ask Ram Trucks. The company’s Icelandic Vikings commercial was a hit, but its Built to Serve ad fell flat — and offended many. We appreciate the brand’s attempt to create a sense of community among its customers and highlighting their call to serve, but using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech was not the way to go. The brand’s 2013 Super Bowl commercial utilized Paul Harvey’s So God Made a Farmer speech in a similar format, which made sense — and was a hit with the audience. It’s tempting to try to recreate the past, but that’s a risky proposition, especially when you fail the second time around.
  • Ditto, T-Mobile. The mobile company likes to be seen as disrupting its industry, but missed the mark with its Super Bowl ad, Little Ones. I was surprised when the logo appeared at the end of the commercial and saw no connection to the brand or what it does. (Note the contrast with Verizon’s ad, which utilized its capabilities to do good and won with viewers.)
  • The all-new Chevy Traverse is a well-designed family car, and its commercial does a fantastic job of highlighting that. Unfortunately, this ad has been running for at least a month. Why spend $5 million on a media buy to run regular content?

Honorable Mention

  • Best Continuation of Overall Campaign: Toyota, Good Odds (Mobility for All)
  • Most Improved: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans
  • Target Audience Hit: Avocados from Mexico, #GuacWorld
  • Carried Over Post-Game Momentum: Mucinex, POSTGAME (#SuperSickMonday)

Overall, the ads were as strong as the game. Who was the biggest winner? The audience. Unless we were in a Tide ad too.

Do you agree with our winners, losers and honorable mention?
Who won your Brand Bowl?

I watch the commercials all year-
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Super Bowl 50: Winners & Losers on the Big Stage

We know who won on the field, but who won the battle of the brands? Here’s our take on the winners and losers of Super Bowl 50 advertisers.

“If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.” -David Ogilvy

Portraits by Jeep for Super Bowl 50

Jeep’s ads, including Portraits, were on point.

Winners

  • Give A Damn, Budweiser: First, the King of Beers spent $5 million on a PSA condemning drinking and driving. 👍 Second, they featured none other than Dame Helen Mirren, who is known for portraying strong, frank women, and she didn’t mince words. Third, for every #GiveADamn mention, Budweiser donated $1 toward safe driving programs. Drinking & driving is a serious problem, and the ad’s timing was perfect.
  • Ultrasound, Doritos: This ad held our attention, featured the product prominently and made us crave Doritos! It makes sense for a snack brand to advertise during the big game, and this year concluded the company’s strong 10-year run of crowdsourced commercials. Doritos crunched its way to being the second most mentioned brand on Twitter during the game.

  • Portraits & 4x4ever, Jeep: The auto manufacturer scored twice this year. Portraits grabbed our attention with black and white images of Jeep owners that looked like they were captured on a (vertical) smartphone. More importantly, the brand spoke to its core audience in both spots, recognizing that Jeep owners crave experiences and live an adventurous, off-road lifestyle. “We don’t make Jeep. You do.”
  • The Longest Chase, Toyota: “Wait. Is this a Prius?”  Toyota wanted to convey that the all-new 2016 Prius isn’t just a comfortable ride. How do you do that in a fun, entertaining way? Have four buddies rob a bank, have their getaway car towed and outrun police on a wild, multistate chase. Speed, handling, gas mileage, spacious interior… #GoPriusGo
  • Storm’s a-Brewin’, Death Wish Coffee: The self-proclaimed maker of the strongest coffee in the world won this year’s Small Business, Big Game contest by Intuit, and its spot didn’t disappoint. Vikings? A raging storm? A day of reckoning? On brand for a company that uses a skull and crossbones in its logo. Two thumbs up for the prominent product and website placement at the end.

Honorable Mention

  • Esurance: You may have noticed that the online auto insurance company only advertised during the pre-game (when price tags are a little lower). So how did it steal the show? By enticing Twitter users to retweet its brand-appropriate tweets to enter to win big $$. Esurance was the most mentioned brand on Twitter during the game (835,101 tweets — 4x that of #2, per Amobee Brand Intelligence) and even trended on Facebook — with a Twitter contest.

Losers

  • #puppymonkeybaby, Mountain Dew: This bizarre ad reinforced that all publicity is not good publicity. Yes, people were talking about it, but most of it wasn’t good. We love puppies, monkeys and babies, but combining them doesn’t excite us — or make us want to drink MTN DEW Kickstart. After this commercial, we’re staying as far away from it as possible.

  • A New Truck to Love, Honda: Don’t get us wrong; we love Queen. But be honest: Did you actually remember which company ran this ad? Or were you just singing along to a great song? So were we, but that’s tough to justify the hefty price tag ($10 mil?).

  • Breathe, Michelob Ultra: Was it just us or were you a little confused by this spot too? We get that Michelob Ultra targets athletic and fit people, not your stereotypical beer drinkers, but there had to be a better way to show that — and drop $5 million.
  • What We Were Thinking, Quicken Loans: We’re all about technology making things easier but should applying for a mortgage be that easy? Maybe the biggest purchase of your life shouldn’t be done while waiting for your food at a restaurant. This commercial seemed to imply that an app could fix our economy overnight, which seems ridiculous. Let’s not #RocketMortgage our way into another recession.
  • Great Loans for Great People, SoFi: We touched on startup SoFi heading to the big game previously. While admirable, we’re not sure that its ad was the best way to spend 20% of its annual marketing budget. The company’s looking for a pretty specific customer, and the Super Bowl might not have been the best way to reach that market. We love fellow small businesses and startups (even ones with deep pockets), so we hope we’re wrong here.

That’s our take on the winners and losers of Super Bowl 50. Congrats to the Broncos and every advertiser who sees a legit return on its investment. As a wise man once said, “if it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”

Join the Post Game Huddle

Do you agree with our advertising winners and losers?

Would you advertise during the Super Bowl if you had the budget?

Were you on social media during the game? What platform were you on the most?

Still craving Doritos (and Death Wish Coffee),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about the Super Bowl, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Super Bowl XLVII: Not A Complete Blackout

I planned on writing about marketing lessons to be had from some of the better Super Bowl commercials until I read 5 Marketing Lessons From the Super Bowl’s Most Popular Commercials from the fine folks at Entrepreneur this morning via Pulse. So that’s been done.

Speaking of the Super Bowl commercials, I felt like they grew more interesting along with the game in the second half, and more specifically, after the blackout. Or I should say during the blackout.

How about Oreo? It almost seemed as if the company knew the blackout was coming. (Hmm, cue up the conspiracy theorists.) More likely, this fun brand was just prepared for the big game instead of sitting back and watching its ad run. Talk about great social media management. And better yet, it’s impromptu ad reminding us all that “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.” actually made me crave an Oreo. Go figure, an ad that sells!

Oreo Super Bowl blackout ad

As of the writing of this post, Oreo’s clever tweet had earned nearly 16,000 retweets and almost 6,000 favorites on Twitter alone not too mention its success on other social media platforms. There’s something to say about being ready to take advantage of an opportunity!

Of course, Budweiser weighed in with another winner. I almost expect this giant in the beer industry to top USA Today’s Ad Meter and satisfy fans annually. The company used its famous Clydesdales for instant brand recognition and included a direct call to action, which many ads did not. People watching the commercial were asked to help name the baby Clydesdale pictured in it by suggesting names with the hashtag #clydesdales on Twitter.

Budweiser just launched its first-ever Twitter account on January 27th (after Twitter introduced age verification), so the commercial was a great way to attract attention to its new handle. As of February 5th, the new account already has nearly 10,500 followers despite being restricted to fans at least 21 years old.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s not forget about JELL-O! The legendary snack company came on right after the dramatic ending to congratulate San Francisco on being #2. How many companies have thought of that strategy?! JELL-O promised fans in San Fran free product today (Feb 5th), because winners shouldn’t have all the fun.

In addition to free pudding, distraught 49ers fans can install the Baltimore Blocker Google Chrome extension, which replaces the words Baltimore and Ravens anywhere they appear on the Internet with blah blah blah and swaps out pictures of celebrating Ravens fans with cute animals. This strategy has people talking on Twitter, Facebook and watching the pudding drop on the company’s website. “Who’s the big winner now, Baltimore?”

Well, that’s my wrap on Super Bowl XLVII, which despite a dramatic second half and some intriguing commercials, will be remembered for a blackout. While I had no loyalties on either side, I am happy for Dean Pees, current Baltimore defensive coordinator and former Kent State head football coach. Way to represent, Coach Pees!

What’s your take? Did you enjoy the game? The commercials? Or did you switch over and watch Downtown Abbey? (I DVR’d it.)

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on social media. I”m always up for a discussion, especially on football or commercials.

Waiting for pitchers and catchers to report-
Jaime

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