Every year marketing geeks like me flock to watch the big game. Yes, for the football, but also for the ads, inspiration and lessons learned.
While many brands showed up right at this year’s Super Bowl, some fell short. And often there are strong lessons in the misses. So here’s a look at where brands went wrong during the 2017 Super Bowl and what we can learn from them.
1- Interjecting because you can.
We all know the Oreo “Dark In the Dunk” moment. It was the pivotal point in social that elevated—and also ruined— real-time marketing. After the wild success of that tweet, real-time marketing became an obligation and not just an opportunity for brands. Now brands insert themselves into conversations, holidays and events as a way to check the box. And, there were plenty of examples of that during the 2017 Super Bowl:
I don’t dislike real-time marketing; I dislike brands forcing themselves into conversations. Oreo is actually an example of a brand that did real-time marketing right. They had a plan going into the game that IF the opportunity came about to join in the chatter they would. But they would only execute IF they were able to execute well, on brand and in an engaging way. IF the lights had not gone out that night, then Oreo might not have activated. And IF they hadn’t activated, it would be all right. That IF is so important.
It’s important to step back and understanding what real-time marketing means for your brand. Why is this valuable to your consumer? Why you are inserting into the conversation? The challenge is to understand the IF. FOMO happens when real-time marketing is not done right. So make a promise to activate IF it aligns with the brand, IF it’s engaging for your consumer and IF you have the right content. If you don’t have all the ingredients, it’s okay to walk away.
Add value, not noise, period.
2- Petty fights.
If you work in social media, you should know one golden rule; do not engage with the trolls. You do you and I’ll do me. That’s the philosophy brands need to take on social media when engaging in battles, negativity, and back and forth conversations. This Super Bowl, there was a bit of cat fighting that went on.
First, there was the feud between Verizon and T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s Super Bowl commercial targeted Verizon. So of course, Verizon decided to attack back on Twitter, starting a pretty bizarre volley of exchanges (read more from Verge here).
The second example, comes from Poo Pourri. The brand seemed a bit threatened by Febreeze’s commercial. The result was this cheap tweet, which was neither funny nor engaging.
The interactions above provide little to no value for the consumer. People have enough going on in their lives; they don’t need brands outwardly living their insecurities and fears from competitors. Feuding and being petty won’t drive results. Focus on creating good content, adding value and actually connecting with your consumer. That’s energy, time and brand resources better spent.
3- Talking the talk, not walking the walk.
Audi’s commercial was a huge hit during the Super Bowl. While I love the message, I was skeptical immediately after I saw it. It’s easy to produce a pretty ad that captures attention because of a charged message. It’s another thing for an organization to rally around a strong statement and actually live the values they’re preaching.
After a bit of research, I’m not convinced that Audi completely walks the walk. They had their talking points up on their career page. And while I don’t doubt that they’re making strides, it does not seem like they live their message 100 percent right now.
Want to know what would have been powerful? If Audi had released the ad and backed it up with facts. It would have been great to see supplemental content. Content that featured stats about women in their workforce, along with stories and voices from actual women in their company. THAT would have taken this to a place of authenticity and authority. Instead, we have ad-like statements like the example below.
Taking a stance has become the “thing” to do with brands. Brands feel the need to play in every faucet of our lives. It’s a slippery slope. Consumers no doubt rally behind brands that live by missions and values they agree with, but that insight should never be used as a marketing ploy. With the way information spreads today, consumers will see through any brands that aren’t truly living by their value statements. Don’t run the risk of getting called out and losing credibility/trust. If you’re going to talk the talk, make sure you actually walk the walk.
4- Not taking an omnichannel approach.
Too often we see brands have big, flashy campaigns that only last one day and/or focus on one main channel. In today’s world, a successful campaign must rely on consumer touchpoints across everything.
There were very few TV ads during the Super Bowl that included a CTA or drove people to a destination to consume more content. Even a hashtag would do the job. Let me clear: I do not think a hashtag makes a campaign, but I do think it can give audiences a simple starting point to consume other content around your campaign. It’s not about one flashy spot but the full consumer journey.
As marketers, an omnichannel approach is critical to success. We must meet our consumer where they are, at any given point and in a way that is seamless and authentic to their consumption habits. Do not spend $5M on a Super Bowl ad and only create one piece of content (that ad) to throw up across all channels. That is NOT an omnichannel approach.
Social media and digital now let’s us dig deeper into the stories, drive our message home further and connect with our audience. Take the time to create a breadth of content for your campaign that engages your consumer. Don’t focus on just that one moment—but focus on an extended period of time. It’s not about one moment anymore, but chapters.
5- Riding someone else’s success.
After Airbnb released their beautiful spot, Xerox tried to latch on to the momentum. Not only is this tone corny, it’s lazy to try to latch on to another brand’s statement. Don’t be tone deaf. Don’t be lazy. Tell your OWN brand story.
What else did you take away from brands and their Super Bowl activations? Share your lessons below.