Takeaways from the 2018 Super Bowl

The Super Bowl isn’t a holiday for sports fans alone. It’s also a holiday for marketers. One where we get to see how brands – in and out of sports – flex their muscles. From big flashy campaigns to brands trying to hijack the conversation, there is always a lot going on.

This year’s brand bowl had some highs and lows, and of course, insights and lessons. Below are some takeaways from the big game both in sports and even more broadly.


For teams, hype matters.

If you’ve read the blog before, you know I’m a big believer in the power of good hype videos. Emotion is one of the most powerful tools we have as marketers. It captures attention and entices people to share because they feel a personal connection to the content.

Throughout the entire playoffs, the Eagles did an incredible job playing into the underdog theme . They leveraged the heightened emotional moment for fans and made the most of it. By delivering content they cared about, they connected with and rallied their fans.

#FlyEaglesFly, @ProFootballHOF style.

A post shared by Philadelphia Eagles (@philadelphiaeagles) on

Broad Street is waiting. #FlyEaglesFly

A post shared by Philadelphia Eagles (@philadelphiaeagles) on


A post shared by Philadelphia Eagles (@philadelphiaeagles) on

Takeaway: The hype is real and it matters even more when you’re on the big stage.


Emotion is multifaceted.

While I tend to gravitate to the drama of hype videos, it’s important to remember that emotion can be delivered in many different ways. Humor, awe and shock – along with anticipation – can get people to share and pay attention. A great example of the power of humor (and maybe shock) was the NFL’s spot featuring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham.

Nobody puts @obj in a corner. #NYGiants #SuperBowlLII 😂

A post shared by New York Giants (@nygiants) on

Another example of how multifaceted emotion can be is this piece below form the Patriots. It’s a simple but clever creative execution. And, more importantly, how it taps into nostalgia.

Takeaway: While dramatic hype videos are all the rage, don’t forget that there’s power in an array of emotions.


Be more human.

One of my favorite philosophies is to “think like a brand, execute like a human”. At a strategic level, we have to focus on what moves the needle for the brand and our objectives. We have to do what’s right for the brand. Protect it, really.

At a tactical level though, we have to figure out how we can execute in a way that feels natural to consumers (while still staying true to our core). The “execute like a fan” part means brands and teams are conversational and transparent, tap into native content and think consumer first.

During the 2018 Super Bowl, the Eagles gave a example of what this means. They signed off their account for the night at a certain point to celebrate and they let fans know. They were human through transparency. Even better though, this was a strategic play. According to their digital team, they made the decision to sign off to give their staff a deserved break. They also knew good content would be buried that night if they kept sharing.

This showed a human side to their account, but it was also a strategic distribution play. THAT is what it means to “think like a brand, execute like a human.” And, judging by the engagement and response, fans appreciated it.

Takeaway: People don’t want to interact with brands that act like robots. If you want to build a true connection, the key is to execute like a human.


Brands, stop talking to yourself.

Ever since Oreo dunked in the dark, brands have put enormous internal pressure on themselves. Pressure to be on all the time and everywhere consumers are. Brands force themselves into conversations. They try phony gimmicks. They’re willing to discount their brand voice, visual identity and even sometimes alienate their core audience all for short lived (and not guaranteed) retweets. Too many brand are doing just for the sake of doing.

This year’s Super Bowl was no exception. Brands tweeted just to tweet. They tweeted at each other. So much of the content was stale, expected and didn’t add value. Truly, there was a lot of clutter.

As marketers, need to take a step back and have a hard conversation with ourselves. Is this what success looks like – 20 retweets in hopes of going viral?

Launching a national campaign during the Super Bowl doesn’t mean the content you surround the game with has to be about the touchdowns. The campaign should be so ownable that you don’t have to force yourself into a conversation about football if it’s not relevant to the brand or campaign.

The brands that win are original, authentic and true to their core. They deliver content that is fresh, new and something only they can own. We have to get out of our way and start pushing our thinking.

Don’t engage just to engage. Don’t push just to push. Do it because it’s original. Do it because it will elevate your brand. And, because your consumers will love it. That’s what every brand marketer must strive for.

Takeaway: We need to have a hard conversation on what success looks like. We need to elevate the standards and celebrate strategic and unique thinking. This industry is running in circles talking to itself. Let’s get out of our own way and start to innovate.


We have a long way to go with digital.

Every year the Super Bowl is an epic reminder of how far we have to go with true, integrated campaigns. So many brands still drop a spot and walk away. Dropping a spot is not a campaign. It’s checking a box. Not that strategic. An old way of thinking, really.

This year was no exception. Many brands missed the mark with their rollout and content that surrounded the spots. As the examples above showed, much of the live game content was forced (with a few exceptions of course). Additionally, there was little thought given to getting consumers to actually interact and share on behalf of the brand.

Today, distribution and consumer experience is as important as the message. Digital has opened new doors, and we have to push new thinking to make the most of it. Digital gives your work legs. Slice and dice the spot to tease it. Create social-first content (that gasp, is more lo-fi). Leverage digital to create immersive and personal experiences. Think strategically about fan engagement.

Takeaway: To make a dent, brands must surround consumers with a consistent message before, during and long after the game. Take the message and make the most of it. Success today isn’t fueled by one spot. It’s fueled by a strategic, integrated plan that thinks about the consumer first.


People have leverage.

People prefer people over brands. I know, the truth hurts sometimes. But this is important to keep in mind as you think about how to distribute content and what tools to leverage. During this year’s Super Bowl, there were several moves that reinforced the idea that people are a key piece to your distribution strategy.

First, the brands that empowered their advocates and stars to share see great engagement and consumption. Why? Because they’re able to deliver their message on a channel that feels authentic. The team at Opendorse stresses this a lot: Today, athletes are the new channels.

Tide was a great example of this during the game, bringing out all kind of star power to join the conversation. And most of the time, this content performed better than the content coming from the brand itself.

Second, don’t forget about consumers. Gatorade ramped up their GIPHY channel for the Super Bowl and it was full of engaging content that consumers want to share. GIFS are so embedded to the platforms we use today, so it’s not about a GIPHY channel, it’s about people sharing on behalf of the brand. This is a smart, smart play for organic and authentic word of mouth.

Takeaway: Don’t hold your content too close. Let your biggest advocates – the ones that are authentic to your brand – share on your behalf. People connect with people. Remember that.


The examples and lessons above scratch the surface of takeaways from this year’s Super Bowl. What stood out to you from both brands, teams and beyond? Share your thoughts below.

The One Word To Guide Your Social Media Philosophy

If you had to pick one word to define your philosophy towards social media, what would it be?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. Social media plays a lot of roles within an organization. It’s complicated, multifaceted and often subjective.

But these complications make it important to understand your social media philosophy. After thinking about this question, there is one word that keeps coming to mind: Deliberate.

Being deliberate is about leading with intention. It means staying true to your what, why and when. And in this age of instant gratification, deliberate work is even more important.

Social media marketers have a tough job. There are expectations to be strategic, but swift. Plan, but be nimble. Be human, but remain on brand. Push, but build a community. Have fun, but drive business results. It is the ultimate juggling.

It’s easy to get caught focus on the wrong things when juggling it all. Social media lends itself to quick wins and reckless tactics. It’s easy to chase engagement, regardless of whether it’s right for the brand.

To win this ultimate juggling act and do right by the brands we work for, we have to be deliberate. We have set a strategy and brand point-of-view and stick to it. We have to understand that our jobs aren’t defined by likes and retweets, but how we move the needle for the organization. It’s about purpose. And driving purpose for the brand.

There are many ways to win attention in social media. But it’s the brands that tell their story in authentic ways and approach it with a strategic frame of mind that win in the long run.

So as you think about your philosophy in social, think about how to be deliberate. Be deliberate in your execution. Be deliberate with how you tell your story. Be deliberate with your brand. At the end of the day, it’s not the number of likes and retweets that matter, but the ability to drive back organizational strategies and goals.

Focus On Substance + Execution Over The Tools

Every year without fail there’s a bright and shiny tool that takes the social world by storm, from Google Glass to live streaming and Spectacles. It’s easy to get caught up in the bright and shiny in this industry of instant gratification. Early adoption could mean an article as the “first brand or team to use x”. But being the first on a platform or the first to leverage a tool doesn’t equate to success or value for your consumer. As with anything, it’s critical to understand the why and value add behind it.

Yes, working in social/digital means it’s important to keep up with new and emerging trends. But success doesn’t mean you have to jump on to each new thing. Like any tool, from Spectacles to Google Glass, it’s about providing unique access + point of view and creating good content (period).

When Spectacles came out, there was a content dump from anyone who had access to them. The content often felt like the same thing over and over again. Even though we get excited about the new in the industry, there’s a good chance fans don’t care unless it’s new AND interesting. It’s important to understand how you can use the tools to elevate your storytelling, get the right access and provide something new. A few strong examples below (and a great curated list of examples from Blair Hughes here):



As teams and leagues look to leverage Spectacles and other new tools, it should be about substance and execution over anything else. When it comes to mapping out a strategy and plan, here are a few high-level things to keep in mind.


Don’t oversaturate it.

Spectacles or FB live stream can be phenomenal tools in taking fans behind-the-scenes without being obtrusive. But because you have the tool, doesn’t mean you should throw it on a player at every practice. Access quickly loses an interesting angle when it’s the same video over and over again. Resist the urge to use too often.


Right time, right place, right context.

In line with the first point, it’s important to understand how live, Spectacles, etc. can play into big moments. Behind-the-scenes access is more valuable when emotions are high. It’s important to understand that holding tools for big moments can be more powerful than abusing them over and over again. Don’t be afraid to wait to leverage something new and interesting when the brand and team has a moment that feels right and big.


Find what’s fresh, different.

The examples above stand out because they are a fresh and different take on content. The @ncaawrestling one, for example, makes fans feel like they are actually warming up with the No. 1 seeded wrestler. It’s a unique POV and different from anything else we’ve seen from that account. As a marketer you have to be able to define your sharp point. How can you leverage the tool to provide something that is different, unique from anything else you’ve ever done? If you can answer that, then you should activate with the tool.


Don’t force it.

Because it’s new, doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you can’t figure out a unique angle or a way to incorporate a new tool into your content capture flow, don’t force it. If produced video makes more sense than live, stick to the produced video. If your team can execute behind-the-scenes storytelling more powerfully than raw Spectacles, stick to that game plan. Being able to execute right is key, so focus on what works for the brand, the fans, your team.

At the end of the day, social is about testing and learning, but not at the sacrifice of good coverage. If you focus on substance and strong execution over forcing the tools, then you’ll find the right ways to elevate and add a unique POV for fans.



How have you seen teams and leagues use new and emerging tools in ways in ways that have stood out? Share your examples below.

A List Of What NOT To Do In Social Media

We often talk about the wins here across the industry. And while the wins are important, it’s also important to take a step back, reflect and understand the opportunities to improve.

So this post focuses on a list of things not to do in social media, with insight from others in the industry. And while it is focused on social media + sports, this list is easily applicable to other industries as well.


1- Abuse hashtags.

Hashtags are a tool in the toolbox and not a foundation for an entire social media presence or campaign. Yet over and over again we see them get tossed around, misused and abused. The hashtag madness has to stop. There are simple rules brand and teams should follow with hashtags. Rules like:

No need to go hashtag crazy.
If you’re going to use a hashtag, you need to understand its purpose. On Twitter hashtags are often used to help curate community and conversation; on Instagram it’s often for discovery. Whatever the purpose, make sure you don’t go hashtag crazy. Too many hashtags distract from the content and confuses your consumer on the action you want them to take.

Be consistent.
If you want to use hashtags as a way to build community, you need to be consistent so consumers and fans catch on. Your brand doesn’t need a million taglines; it also doesn’t need a million hashtags. Be consistent and it will pay off. The @panthers use of #KeepPounding is a great example of this. They’ve leveraged their team hashtag consistently and fans have bought in—so much that it constantly trends during their games.


2- Slap content across everything.

Consumers often flock to different platforms for different reasons. For example, Snapchat is a place for one-to-one communication with friends and Twitter is the place to discover news. It’s important marketers keep consumer habits front of mind as they plan and create content for each platform. Your strategy, approach and content across platforms should feel as native as possible. A brand shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, a brand should fit in naturally to the platform alongside your consumer’s best friend.

Long gone are the days where we can slap content across all platforms and be successful. It’s imperative we understand the user’s native habits, why they’re on a platform and the content they crave. If we slap the same content across all platforms without any thought, then run the risk of losing your audience and not standing out from the crowd.

Same photo/GIF over and over again.
In a similar vein, don’t use the same piece of content over and over and over again. It gets redundant, boring, predictable (and we’re in the business of entertaining, connecting). If you plan GIFS for certain moments (like touchdowns, interceptions, etc.), create many options and templates so you can mix it up. Repurpose GIFS and content, but know the threshold before they get boring.


3- Putting individual over the brand.

The brand, the brand, the brand. When you work for an organization, brand or team in social media you must always represent the brand first. Social media is the front door to an organization. Yes, there is a lot of power at your fingertips.

With the access to accounts comes a lot of responsibility. In a world of instant gratification, it can be easy to get caught up in leveraging audiences to drive more eyeballs to your own personal accounts. Under no circumstance should your personal brand come before THE brand. Don’t leverage your channels to cross promote your personal accounts. Don’t put content that should go to the brand on your channels. Don’t leverage your interest and own brand voice on the brand channel if it’s not actually reflective of the organization.


4- Lazy Sponsorship Plays.

Sponsored social media content is an everyday occurrence these days. Wherever teams and leagues push out content, there’s a good chance there’s a sponsor logo lurking somewhere. Too often sponsored content feels forced and ad-like. When content becomes forced, it adds noise to the community and little value to the sponsor. And when asking the question about what not to do in social media and sports, Kevin made a great point:

Forcing the number of sponsored posts detracts from what will actually matter. Instead of saying a brand or team must tweet about x sponsor 25 times, focusing on crafting a series that will move the needle. Two to three strong content pieces will do more from the sponsor and team than 25 stale and forced pieces.

When approaching sponsored content, keep the following in mind:

Think content first.
Approach sponsored social content like you do every other piece of social content: Focus on creating value. Whether the content is to inform, entertain or educate, the value does not come from logos or brand names. The value comes in the heart of the content.

When you approached sponsored pieces with a content-first approach it ends up being a win-win for the sponsor and fans. Why? Because it doesn’t add noise to fans’ timelines and fans want to pay attention (which has worth to the sponsor).

Integrate sponsors gracefully.
Repeat after me: Do not create content so you can slap a sponsor to it. Instead, integrate sponsors with content you would produce anyway. This makes it more valuable to fans and the organization.

Don’t make logos the hero.
Slapping a logo on your graphic or “presented by x” in the copy does not add value to anyone. The logo is not the hero. The sponsor name is not the hero. Don’t annoy your fans by serving your fans what they perceive as ads. Make the content hero, then integrate. That’s how you win.

Stay consistent with the brand.
Good sponsored content doesn’t stand out from the rest of your content and scream ad. Instead, it should have a similar, consistent look and feel to everything else. If a fan scrolls through your Instagram feed and can immediately see it’s sponsored, they are going to tune it out. Try to keep your sponsored content consistent with the rest of your content as much as possible. Again, it’s all about being authentic to make people listen.


5- FOMO.

Brands have been forcing themselves into conversations for far too long now. We’re willing to discount brand voice, visual identity and our core audience for short-lived retweets. Too many brand are jumping into every holiday for the sake of doing so and adding clutter to the space.

We’ve become too focused on the external pressures of the internet and not focused enough on our own path, vision and brand. Somewhere along the line, FOMO and vanity metrics have replaced the need for a smart, strategic approach. It’s easy to get caught up in, especially when our work is public and opinions come from all four corners. But the FOMO has to stop.

It’s easy to jump on a trending holiday and make a big splash, but it’s much harder to leverage your own brand in a way that’s authentic and stir things up. The @dallascowboys bandwagon application is a great example of leveraging your own brand—not a pseudo holiday— to drive high engagement. This play was funny, creative and on brand.

Don’t jump into trends and holidays to check it box. Make sure your adding value for your consumer and brand with all that you do.


6- Chase the vanity metrics.

This one goes along with FOMO and brand voice, but don’t get caught up in being cute, moody or vanity plays. Make SM best reflection of the team. As talked about, a social media presence is a reflection of the brand. Don’t sacrifice the brand for vanity metrics.

Before any brand and team goes on a tweeting spree, it’s imperative they understand their why. What do you stand for as a brand? What are your goals, objectives? How can social media help you get there? Focus on answering these questions before making a big splash on a fake holiday.

To get to the heart of matter, the metrics and content that will move the needle, I focus on three small but mighty words: Why, value and care. Read more about it here.


7- Screenshotting videos.

There are few things more frustrating than seeing the “play” button on Twitter to realize it’s not an actual video but a screenshot driving elsewhere. Not only is this deceiving for fans, but it also makes content consumption more difficult. Fans want to consume easily, quickly, wherever they are.

Content can live right on the platform, so why not meet fans where they are? The days of only driving people to .com should be gone. Let your fans consume great content on the platforms where they play and drive to deeper dives that social can’t provide.


8- Copy others.

The work we do in social media is public. The beauty in that is that every day there’s a new opportunity to be inspired. But inspiration does not mean copy. Take the content and campaigns that inspire you and use them as case studies and guides. Always do things differently and with your own spin. It’s important to elevate and ensure the execution feels right for YOUR brand.


9- Don’t get caught up in process.

When you work in an industry where things change daily, there’s no rules on how to get it done. Oh, all of a sudden Peach is the app of the century? Quick, put together a strategy on that! You won’t always have the answers on process, on best practices and on what the approach should be. You’re the pioneer, the renegade! Be the first to put together a thoughtful Peach strategy and own it.

If you want to work in social, get comfortable with a lot gray area. The one big failure in this industry is never trying, so you will need to take a deep breath, write the rules and own it. Don’t let process slow you down.


10- More advice.


What is on your list of things NOT to do in social media? Share below!

Thanks for reading.

5 Misses From Brands During The Super Bowl

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.