Super Bowl 2015 Pt. 5: Closing Thoughts

Kat Gordon covered this year’s ad emphasis on cultural awareness in Adweek’s Super Bowl print edition, and she made some good points. This year was an awful year for NFL publicity with elevator beatings, toddler corporal punishment, rape accusations, etc.  The NFL did need to steer clear of adding to that fire aka frat-bro humor, sex appeal ads, and condescending spots. But my gamewatch group came to the consensus that something is wrong with our country. “What state do people think our country’s in? America’s doing alright” summed my brother.

And I agree, it was too much. One behavioral psychology book, Thinking Fast and Slow, talks about the availability heuristic and how the more a message is available to you, the more you think it’s an issue. Take house earthquakes for example: they spike insurance purchases because they’re newsworthy. But really, the numbers those insurance actuaries play with all day will probably say that natural disasters  hardly happen at all, especially after an  earthquake JUST happened. Similarly, if all these brands keep pushing these current problems down our throat, we’re going to believe our society is in a bad place. Yes, there’s always room for improvement, but geez, all most people really want to do is watch the game and be entertained.

 

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

  1. Katy Perry crushed it.
  2. Left shark did not crush it.
  3. Pete Carroll did not crush it. Even left shark would have called a running play.
  4. Hats off to any 37 year old quarterback who can win the Super Bowl, even if you do play for the Colts’ arch nemesis.
  5. Public transit is not fun, because snow:

Chicago snow 2015 January super bowl

 

Super Bowl 2015 Recap Pt. 4: The Good

best super bowl ads 2015

Sentiment, empowerment, taking a stance, and strategic media vision put these ads in the top 5 for me:

Dove Dads


This one tugged the heart strings. My dad made a lot of time for us kids, from working on house building jobs to coaching our football teams, the ad brought those memories to the forefront. I’ll never buy Dove as long as Suave does the job, but I truly felt like a consumer while watching it.

 

Nike’s Instagram

Nike super bowl 2015 instagram ad

This too resonated with me from all the backyard football games while we pretended to be our favorite superstars. Nike’s Instagram copy is always top tier work, but I think they did a great job with the aspirational play toward their younger audience on the youth-driven Instagram platform.

 

 Always’ “Like a Girl” 


A great hashtag Twitter extension, an empowering message, and a blend of authentic storytelling, P&G did not disappoint.

 

Budweiser’s Other Ad

You know, the not-the-puppy one. Sure it was low production cost, and it was the product-focused ad of its typical 1-2 story-product ad combo punch, but Budweiser took a risk and separated itself from the craft beer scene while tactfully not pissing anybody off too much. The bluesy southern rock background music and all caps copy brought forth that “You craft beer dissectors do your thing, but this is who we are, who we’re for, join us or don’t” attitude that only the brand’s king persona can project.

 

Eat24

If a good advertising friend didn’t point this ad out, I would’ve missed it. In fact, I did miss it purely because of the reason it’s in the top five. Eat24’s creative may have been average, but whoever decided to buy the 30 minutes before game time slot, you’re the man. You looked at the audience of the Super Bowl, realized they’re lazy & hungry, and realized it was a perfect direct response opportunity. Most brands make activation/awareness plays, showcasing new products & campaigns, but it was refreshing and smart to see Eat24 take a shot deeper in the funnel.

Super Bowl 2015 Recap Pt. 3: The Bad

Super Bowl 2015 Bad Ads Nationwide

MAN WHO LET NATIONWIDE INTO THE PARTY? That Nationwide PSA ad was a buzzkill, as proven by the Twittersphere.

Yes, Nationwide showed it cares about higher purposes and current societal issues, and they captured attention in an alarming way. But the Super Bowl audience is a group that showed up to their couch to relax, laugh, and have a good time. Their mindset is anything but serious (unless you were a Seahawks for Patriots fan). There’s really not great time to show this ad, but don’t show it on the most cynical ad night of the year!  I’d worry that brand perception took a step back with the way Nationwide blew up on Twitter. Although Nationwide did try to end on Mindy’s happier note, I just don’t think it was enough. Lots of good press this week, though.

Carnival & Jeep

Adweek echoed my initial reaction to each ad earlier this week – “man this is a beautiful spot, but it’s already been done!” The old-school speech voiceover combined with beautiful imagery raised a few goosebumps, but in the end, but it felt much too similar to RAM’s recent “Farmer” commercial. Maybe this style needed a year to breathe, but let’s add to the conversation, shall we?

 

Super Bowl 2015 Recap Pt. 2: How to Pull Off a Celeb Tweet

How to Pull Off a Celeb Tweet Super Bowl

Any search of #ad or #sponsored will fill up your Twitter feed with a boatload of forced, ingenuine, and often cringeworthy tweets. But I thought Always’ #LikeAGirl & Mindy’s Nationwide tweets nailed it. Always used Demi Lovato to sound off their #LikeAGirl campaign, and it felt like a perfect fit:

Demi Lovato Super Bowl Tweet

 

She’s proud, it’s authentic, and the #ad at the end is more like a Super Bowl tag given the night’s context. Mindy Kaling’s tweet didn’t even include the #ad tag, she just tweeted it!

Mindy Kaling Super Bowl Tweet

 

This selfie movement is starting to really wear on me, but I loved how Nationwide leveraged Mindy’s social following to continue the story of their commercial. Plus Matt’s face looks like he just watched the first Nationwide Super Bowl commercial…

Super Bowl 2015 Recap Pt. 1: Go Beyond the Ad

Super Bowl 2015 Go Beyond The Ad

The Super Bowl.

The single biggest annual sporting event on the planet.

The pinnacle of creative television advertising.

And perhaps the quickest way to blow $4.5 million dollars outside of Las Vegas.

After awhile, Super Bowl ads have earned a high enough reputation to become a showcase of criticisms, like a one-night museum collection – you can put anything on a museum pedestal, call it art, and suddenly viewers start forming normally non-existent opinions. But instead of a museum, you have a Super Bowl TV schedule. So, here’s my six part micro-analysis on the good, the bad, the best, the game, and the left shark.

 

Go Beyond the Ad

Teressa Iezzi opens The Idea Writers with Droga5’s David Droga earning a spot on the 2006 Esquire “Best and Brightest” list. Being a man of the ad industry, Esquire asked him to create an ad about himself. Rather, he activated Tap Project, a UNICEF campaign supporting clean drinking water worldwide, within the ad. After a website, some restaurant endorsements, a fundraising event, water essays & more, $0 media dollars turned into $5.5 million. Droga ventured beyond the printed page and won.

Like Droga’s ad, extensions of ad mediums like print or TV such as McDonalds Pay with Lovin’ Super Bowl ad and Coca Cola’s Make It Happy ads are nothing new. In fact, the actual stories in the ads felt a little far-fetched, as alluded to by Adweek in a recap post earlier this week. But it was great to see these players launch campaigns that are part of campaigns bigger than a single 30 second blip. I’m really looking forward to how the McDonald’s campaign takes shape, and it would be great to see Coca Cola’s turn-a-frown-upside-down social media initiative explore more of 2015. Too bad Coke pulled it this week. 😦

 

Branded Experiences: An Introduction

A coffee can of post-its sits on my desk, and it fills as fast as my current can empties. To be creative, one must listen. Lines at the bar, young lads on the dance floor getting shot down like fighter planes and taking back off again for a shot at another target. It wasn’t their fault; the dance floor was too large, and the ladies felt isolated and out of their comfort-zone. The environment was not conducive to that physical contact and close-conversation intimacy for the guys to last longer than a few lines of small talk.

When asked at a leadership conference how best to lead productive conversation, one college senior said ‘smaller tables.’ “He gets it,” I thought. Not that I get it. Not all of it, anyway. But smaller tables create more intimate conversations and a feeling of togetherness. Baristas and bartenders face their customers during their mixology at every chance they get in hopes to foster a relationship, a “customer experience.” A similar effect can be found in the mood of a meeting can be determined not by its content, but by whether the constituents sit side by side or across from each other. We share coffee across small tables, yet we eat meals across tables that feel like the Grand Canyon. Who knew six inches could be the difference between your conversation’s life and death?

We share beers side by side while sitting at the bar. Maybe that’s why drinkers make friends at bars so quick. Maybe.

I think we can all be a listener of sound, of structure, of human interaction if we choose to. Why not turn what you hear to solve problems. The sole purpose of a brand, of business, is to solve a problem. To provide a solution. How you solve the problem is the fun part.

The problem I think most brands have is most of them stop solving their customers’ problems after the first problem is solved. They create a product that solves a problem, the problem, and they stop. But these same customers continue to have problems. They wake up and their jeans don’t fit. They get stuck in traffic. They get dumped. They get lonely. They feel useless, they feel the same as everyone else, they feel left out. They die. And they fear dying.

So why stop with just creating a windshield wiper that cleans the windshield when there’s road rage, unforgiving parking meters, and inconveniencing weather? Why stop inside a gym’s four walls when there’s twenty times more people wasting away outside them? Why stop with bike locks when there’s nowhere for cyclists to stash all their stuff before a night on the town? And why stop with jackets and gloves when people still freeze their faces off outside?

Branded experiences can reiterate the feeling you receive from using a brand’s product more times than when the product is used. A Thule bike lock gives the parked rider peace of mind. So does a bike pod storage bin. Not only is it additional brand recognition, but that brand helped their target audience in an additional way. The brand did them a favor. And usually, people return favors.

Especially ever-green favors. I understand event-marketing. Sometimes I love it. The Indy 500, the Final Four convention center, the Budweiser Made In America Tour, the Outside Lands concert festival booths all were a blast and I willingly participated in their experience (I can’t say some of it wasn’t for research, but they were worth it). But while the memories remain, most of those five and six figure experiences last a few days, and they provide sometimes a much needed form of excitement. I think brands need to create experiences with a longer lifespan that are woven into society. Similar to Leo Burnett’s community art museum or the Duracell bus stop. Longer lasting, more meaningful branded experiences that solve an audience & community problem.

In the days of social media and digital interaction, we crave physical communication. Branded experiences offer the opportunity to create grounds for human-to-human connection. They address those psychological needs like fitting in and being appreciated for who you are. And with enough experiences, they create a snowball effect that eventually births social change.

Predictably Irrational: Why People Do What They Do

Predictably Irrational Summary Notes Print

The first book recommended to me by an advertising mentor was “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely. Ariely’s backstory is incredibly interesting and worth researching, but it’s best to know he’s become a keen observer of people’s behavior and has written several books covering his experiments. Within a year after listening to this book during bike commutes to work, it’s arisen in numerous conversations and has given reason to why I and others behave the way they do.

Yes, these tactics can be used in advertising, but they can also be used by the consumer. For example, if you understand the concept of the anchor and how your first experience with a product (ex. – your first car) becomes your measuring stick for the next product, you won’t settle for anything less than your first car. Following your second purchase, you’ll then want an equivalent or better car, and so on. Thus, it’s important to remember the reason you made your first decision. If that was three cars ago and you’re now with a newer, nicer car, chances are your standards have changed even though you claim you’re the same person deep down inside. Each point can help you understand why you’re about to make a decision, and perhaps help you reconsider if the motive behind your choice is why you truly want what you do.

Many of these concepts should be familiar: Fear of Loss, Sex Appeal, The Price of Free, and perhaps a few more. One fascinating point about the price of free is that people are more willing to do something for free when the effort is exchanged for something related to social norms and cannot be defined by monetary value. For example, your friend says he’ll help you paint your house if you help him move this weekend. The answer is most likely yes. But if the friend says he’ll give you pizza and beer for helping him move, you then associate the pizza & beer with a cost of $20. Compared to a the salary of a moving company, $20 for a day’s work leaves a sour taste in your mouth and leaves your friend to find another mover. To make things even more interesting, a friend is more likely to help by treating it as a goodwill / friendship deed than offering to pay them less than a) what they make at work or b) what movers make, which would be their anchors.

I could go on about the others, but the one that’s changed me the most is the point about perception. I’ve thought that if something’s overly described as positive, it will end in letdown because it did not live up to the hype. And that may be true when taken to the extreme. But when you continuously focus on the positives and what’s going to be great about something, you convince yourself to make it great. Based on a get-together or two throughout the year, I can attest that this notion does indeed work.

Predictably Irrational Summary Notes

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Cannes 2012 Analysis #1: Nike FuelBand a Marketing Strategy or a Product?

Nike FuelBand photo

Nike FuelBand photo

When I saw Nike as my first Cannes award to analyze, I was pretty excited. I’ve heard a lot about the Nike FuelBand. I assumed it was deserving of awards just after hearing ‘Nike.’ I mean, Nike does have a lot of good advertisements including the recent “Find your greatness” campaign. But after thinking about this a bit, I’m not so sure the FuelBand belongs in this awards show. I guess it helps to know the criteria for the Cyber Lions 2012 award, but we’ll have to move forward without it.

From a creative perspective, there’s really nothing flashy or inspiring about the product’s promotion. One ad on the Nike site shows athletes with their Fuel Points measurements increasing as they perform, and another simply shows the band with voiceover features. Another ad is more developed with energetic music, trendy bright neon colors, quick action shots cut by branded Nike block letters. The cartoon character appearances hint that any activity can be measured, no matter how crazy. This ad is a little more exciting, but Apple iPod commercials can do just as well.

The product itself is something to marvel… if you haven’t heard of it’s predecessor, the Nike Plus iPod Sport Kit. The transition isn’t mind-blowing; the Sport Kit measures activity, and so does the FuelBand. Yipee. But from a developer’s and a community creator’s viewpoint, the FuelBand is revolutionary. The FuelBand can measure and compare physical activity across numerous sports. Where the Sport Kit and your phone’s GPS-based apps measure a single activity and form communities of a single sport, Nike found a way to unite and motivate athletes across the board. The product encourages each user to become more physically active, and it unites people no matter their background. For this, I think Nike won the award.

Nike Plus Sport Kit photo

The Nike Plus Sport Kit. A small step from the FuelBand + a fancy pedometer.

But does it fall into the marketing/advertising digital sector? Is it asking you to purchase Nike, or to simply exercise? Because last time I checked, the act of playing sports belongs to nobody. The FuelBand asks people to exercise, not purchase Nike’s product. Shoot, judging by the above commercial, it just asks people to move.  I like that everybody can participate, no matter their flavor of activity. The FuelBand’s absence of exclusitivity to sports gives Nike the ability to penetrate markets they don’t even merchandise in yet. I’ll give some FuelPoints for that.

I understand they’re creating a community that becomes more loyal to their brand as the brand becomes more beneficial to the user, which in turn will generate sales. I can respect that too. Perhaps that’s the marketing aspect that qualifies it as a Cannes digital nominee, along with the fact that it could be the sneakiest way to collect the most amount of user-specific activity-based data ever. Yes, Nike won an award for erasing lines lumping athletes and dancers into one bucket they call a community. But they had to create a product to do it.

Product photos from Nike.com