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


  • 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.)


  • 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 LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30

Movin’ on Up: Small Businesses Go to the Big Game

It all started with a groundbreaking company that just wanted to encourage more interest amongst girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Who could predict that Goldieblox would become the first small business to advertise during the Super Bowl?

GoldieBlox has changed the game.

GoldieBlox became the first small business to advertise in the Super Bowl in 2014.
Screenshot courtesy of

In 2014, Intuit ran a contest to award one small business the opportunity of a lifetime — the chance to advertise during the big game. GoldieBlox won the contest, won the Super Bowl audience over with a great ad and has been growing rapidly ever since.

Breaking Through Gender Stereotypes: Are We Making Progress?

This year, it’s Death Wish Coffee Company‘s turn. The self-proclaimed Home of the World’s Strongest Coffee has an incredible opportunity to reach millions around the world in 30 seconds. As big fans of good coffee and fellow small businesses, we hope Death Wish Coffee Company becomes a household name after OWN IT airs during Super Bowl 50.

Death Wish Coffee Co is the 2016 winner of Intuit's Small Business, Big Game contest!

Death Wish Coffee Company is hoping to make a big splash in the big game with OWN IT.
Screenshot courtesy of Intuit’s

With small businesses starting to make appearances during the big game, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that one is making the trip on its own. Alternative lender Social Finance, also known as SoFi, is dropping some serious cash — 20% of its annual budget — to introduce itself to the world.

Here’s the catch: like most startups, SoFi’s ideal customer is a specific niche market —  qualified millennials who want to refinance student loans as personal loans. The company began to expand its offerings to mortgages and some consumer loans last year and expected these areas to overtake refinanced student loans as its largest areas of business by the end of 2015.

Still, is it worth it? Will SoFi’s 30-second spot reach enough members of its target audience (either directly or indirectly) to achieve its goals? While SoFi has a much larger budget than most startups and small businesses, the company is still taking a huge gamble to introduce itself to the world. Plus, the financial sector hasn’t been a major player in Super Bowl advertising of late. Will SoFi win big or lose it all to one ad?

If you had the budget to advertise in the Super Bowl, would you? Would it be the best use of $5+ million dollars for your company? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please let me know your decision in the comments below!

p.s. What are your Super Bowl 50 predictions — winning team and advertiser?

Super Bowl dreamin’,

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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-

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