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

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The Punch (and Tweet) Heard Round The World

With the release of a grainy security camera video yesterday, TMZ made a mockery of the Baltimore Ravens, the Atlantic County prosecutor and the NFL. As if the domestic violence incident wasn’t bad enough, the attempted cover-up, or whitewashing of the facts in the case, is a slap in the face to women everywhere.

The numbers are staggering1 in 3 U.S. women have experienced physical violence, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. 81% of women who experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) reported at least one health-related or other impact. $8.3 billion. That’s the cost of IPV in medical, mental health services and lost productivity costs alone each year.*

Unfortunately, these numbers are also impressive and far more important in some circles. Ray Rice’s jersey ranked #28 in the entire NFL in the last fiscal year. The running back has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 4 out of the past 5 seasons, and he was enjoying a 5 year / $35 million contract, including $22 million in guaranteed money before being released yesterday. In other words, he’s a superstar.

Whether the NFL or any other party had seen the latest video is irrelevant. They knew the facts of what happened on that awful night, and according to TMZ, they never requested the security video from the hotel/casino. (Yes, I just referenced TMZ as a news resource. Unfortunately, they seem to be the most reputable source in this debacle.) What kind of investigation did the NFL — or the Atlantic County prosecution — conduct?

What really amazes me is the Baltimore Ravens’ response. The team held a press conference seemingly to minimize the seriousness of the situation and let the whole world know that Janay Rice was at least partially to blame. The following tweet has since been deleted from the Ravens’ official Twitter account.

Baltimore Ravens tweet

Screenshot courtesy of Mediaite.com

Remember, you can never truly delete a tweet or post. It lives forever somewhere online and could serve to pop up at the most inopportune time. Think before you tweet, especially from an official brand account.

Shortly following the release of the most recent video, the Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice, and the NFL indefinitely suspended him, which are far more appropriate actions than the initial discipline — a 2 game suspension. Two games for punching a person in the face, knocking her head against an elevator so hard that she was rendered unconscious, dragging her out of the elevator and through the lobby like a bag of trash (while still unconscious) and spitting on her. Yet a player who tests positive for marijuana can be suspended for the whole year. What kind of image does that send?

The only good news that has come out of the backlash generated by this disturbing situation is the NFL’s much tougher stance on domestic violence. A first offense receives a 6-game suspension without pay, and a second offense is punished with a lifetime ban. The policy applies to all NFL personnel, including executives and coaches, but there is a caveat that allows multiple time offenders to apply for reinstatement after one year. Is it tough enough or overboard?

How far will the fallout of this incident and cover-up reach? The Baltimore Ravens’ front office? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? The Atlantic County prosecutor’s office? Who knew what when? Why was Ray Rice given such a light punishment — by the league and legally — before this video leaked?

“[Roger Goodell’s] push to increase NFL punishment of domestic abusers to roughly one-third that of repeat pot smokers, his decision today to suspend Rice indefinitely after the Ravens had fired him are elements of classic tragedy wherein the right thing is finally done only after it is too late to matter. Roger Goodell’s existence, who he is, what he has turned the NFL Commissioner’s office into is now symbolized by Ray Rice’s brutal left hand striking Janay Palmer, and striking her again. Mr. Goodell is an enabler of men who beat women. His position within the National Football League is no longer tenable.”  –Keith Olbermann, ESPN talk show host

My only hope is that someone, or multiple women out there, who are suffering from domestic violence will see the ugliness of this incident and make the choice to get help for their own situation. It’s so easy to blame the victim in domestic violence situations, but women stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons. If you want to hear from real women on why they stayed, just browse the #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who continues to share their stories and encourage others to get help.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence abuse, please call 1.800.799.7233 or visit a local shelter. Don’t become another statistic. You’re worth so much more.

Sadly, I agree.

A disappointed NFL fan,
Jaime

*Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) statistics courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention