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

#FlyEaglesFly

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.

NFL Postseason & The Power Of Emotion

When we care, we share. This from Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, is one of my favorite lines when it comes to content. In his book, Berger outlines the six reasons why content catches on. And, one of the main prompts to get people to share is emotion.

Emotion is one of the most powerful tools we have as marketers. Whether it’s thrill, awe, empathy or humor, content that evokes emotions connects with the fan in a way that compels them to pay attention. It’s the most important component in creating valuable content.

There is a lot of discussion in the industry about the pivot to video. Some have seen success while others haven’t seen the return. Yes, teams need resources and good talent to create video content that stands out. It’s a more expensive and time-consuming format for sure.

Investing in video content is important. It simply has to be approached the right way. Video content should not be about quantity but about quality. During every pitch, creative briefing or ideation, we have to ask ourselves why the fan would care? It’s imperative we understand why certain things catch on and what evokes human emotion.

During this year’s NFL playoffs, we have seen some great examples of content that evokes emotion. From chill-inducing hype videos to fantastic UGC, below are a few of the pieces that stood out.

 

Panthers – A Powerful Rallying Cry

This video from the Panthers is a fantastic example of storytelling. The thematic “Fight As One” makes their fans feel part of the journey. The video proves a powerful script and strong editing are everything.

 

Bills – UGC With All The Feeling

UGC is hard to do right. It often feels like more of a reward for the fans being featured than the entire audience. But every once in awhile, you come across a gem that shows the true power of UGC. This video from the Bills is one of those. It’s beautifully edited, features powerful voiceover and taps into the sentiments of their team.

 

Jaguars – Creating Good Tension

One thing the Jaguars did really well throughout the playoffs was to tap into the sentiment of the players, team and fans. They weren’t afraid to walk up the fact that the team had a lot of haters and non-believers. And, the tension made for powerful scrips over and over again.

 

Vikings – Capitalizing On The Moment

The Vikings did an incredible job leveraging the emotion of the Minneapolis Miracle to create emotional content. From a raw video of the play to a fantastic montage of fan reactions, the Vikings took advantage of the moment and during the process garnered millions and millions of views.

 

Eagles – They Get Hype

The Eagles have hype down. Period. There’s swagger in every single hype video they put out.

 

These five teams proved throughout the playoffs that the power of emotion is very, very real. As you go about creating content, remember that when fans care they will share. Tap into the emotion of sports. It’s a winning approach.

When Sports Are Bigger Than The Scores

We focus on the scores, wins and losses a lot in this industry. But when you step back, sports are bigger than sports. The game has the power to transcend entertainment into something much larger. This past weekend in the NFL was proof of that.

Amid the NFL battle with President Trump, there were two brand pushes that stood out. First, the NFL decided to push out its Super Bowl commercial about unity again. The lines in the spot are so powerful:

“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination. Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us.

Second, the Miami Dolphins pushed out this beautiful and simple piece:

These decisions and moves for brands, teams and leagues aren’t always easy. The line for brands is blurring. Today, many consumers expect brands to embrace a position and set of values. But of course, it’s a slippery slope.

When thinking about taking a stance on anything beyond the game, it’s important to remember the following things:

 

Define your brand values.

For any brand to take a stance, they must know their brand values first. What as an organization do you stand for? Before a brand, team or league takes any position, ensure the values are defined.

 

Look internally first.

Writing down brand values on a piece of paper doesn’t mean the organization is actually living by them. It’s important to take a hard look in the mirror before taking a public stance on anything. Is the brand walking the walk? Brands must practice what they preach. Period.

 

Be consistent.

Values aren’t something a person is wishy washy on. If you believe in something, you stand by it. The same is true for a brand that wants to take a stance. If you plan to take a position, you have to stick to it. If you try and play every crowd consumers will see right through it and you will alienate everyone.

 

Less is often more.

There’s something about simplicity that is powerful. When working through messaging, remember less is often more. Don’t get cute. Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. The Dolphins post is a perfect example of that.

 

Know the pulse.

The world changes and views evolve. This doesn’t mean that we completely abandon are values, but it does mean we need to have a pulse on what’s going on in the world. There’s nothing worse than a tone deaf brand. Awareness of the current climate is key. It will go a long way to ensure you shape a message the pushes things forward instead of backfire.

This weekend was a small example of the impact sports plays in the world. It’s more than entertainment. It has the ability to inspire, move and mobilize people. Consumers look for brands to take a stance– but only if it’s authentic. When tapping into something more than the scores, remember that it’s important to actually know and live by your brand values.

5 Strong NFL Preseason Social Plays

With the NFL preseason in full swing, we’re getting a look at what we will see from teams on social media this season. It looks like it’s going to be a strong year in NFL social. From slick visual identities to mesmerizing content, we’ve already seen some strong plays. Below are a few highlights from teams early on as the NFL season kicks off:

 

Beautiful photography.

There’s no such thing as a great social presence without great content. A huge key to good content is top-notch photography. The @MiamiDolphins social media presence is proof of this. Their content is eye catching, consistent and a great refection of their brand. All teams can learn from their cohesive look. Work hand in hand with your photography team to define a look and feel and let the photos drive your storytelling.

 

Mesmerizing content.

In the battle for attention, it’s important to diversity your content. Coverage should include everything from stills to videos to captivating GIFS. Many teams have leveraged interesting, dynamic content in the pre-season so far. Below are a few that caught my eye:

Full speed ahead. #VikingsCamp

A post shared by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on

Tip: The Vikings, Falcons and Saints used an app called Plotograph. It’s simple to use and definitely worth checking out.

 

Communicating in six seconds.

The latest craze in advertising is six second ads. It doesn’t mean that good long form is dead, but all teams should think about how to create video content for goldfish attention spans.

Telling a story in six seconds is a completely different creative challenge. You need a strong understanding of your point to be able to communicate it in six seconds. A strong storyboard and good execution are key.

Need some inspiration on what a strong six second video looks like? Here’s a great example from the @jaguars:

 

Crisp and clean branding.

It’s important for teams to establish visual identities. A good visual identify helps your content stand out from the crowd and ties everything back to the brand. When fans scroll through their feeds, they should be able to identify a team’s piece of content without even seeing the name. The @Vikings branding for their training camp is a great example of what crisp and clean branding looks like:

Run it right back, @dalvincook. #VikingsCamp

A post shared by Minnesota Vikings (@vikings) on

 

Good, clean fun.

There’s a tendency for teams and brands to resort to snark and sass on social. As marketers though, we shouldn’t resort to that tactic unless the organization/brand has aligned on that voice. It’s easy to grab attention and retweets this way, but the true test of any marketer is to grab attention in a way that’s right for the brand.

The good news is that a team’s voice can come to life in many different ways. Yes, social media is meant to be more human. Yes, teams should have fun on social. You can break through the clutter and have fun without jeopardizing the brand.

Establishing personality is not complicated either. Take a look around you and see how the players interact. There are moments all throughout sport where personality shines. Capture that content. Bring to life those team moments. Below are two examples of personality shining through with content and copy without resorting to snark:

 
What strong plays have you seen from NFL teams in the pre-season? Share your thoughts below!

NFL Teams Showcase Creativity With Their Schedule Releases

Thanks to social and digital, it seems that there’s a need for everything to be more elevated now. The news cycle doesn’t start and end with the season, and neither does the need to create good content.

One of the proofs that everything is more elevated is how NFL teams handled their schedule releases this year. From fantastic hype videos to unique GIFS, the content around the releases was unique and elevated. Below are some examples. Hopefully they inspire creativity in your work!

 

Seahawks

The Seahawks social and digital team decided to do something completely off the wall and different for their schedule release. Have you ever seen the popular tasty-style videos on social? Inspired by those, the digital media team “baked” the schedule in cupcake form.

The reaction was tremendous, garnering them attention from the media, fans and everyone in the social industry.

One of the great things about social is its short shelf life. The ability to try new things, learn and adapt swiftly is huge. Don’t fear failing. If your team comes up with something crazy, it might just work. Give it a go and don’t look back.

 

Packers

There’s something about Vine that makes content stand out from all the noise. The enhancements the platform has made to sound + the looping nature makes for dynamic content. The Packers schedule tease was done through Vine. It’s the perfect example of how Vine content should be created.

 

49ers

The 49ers nailed their schedule release content with a GIF and hype-like video. The GIF was an easy visual to see the schedule all at once, while the hype video played into emotions. The song choice and powerful, documentary-like opening in their video caught my attention early and pulled me in. And as we all know, catching any kind of attention these days is a big win.

 

Vikings

The Vikings always produce stellar work, from their clean and sharp graphical treatments to their fantastic Vines. Their schedule release content was no exception. They too give us a great example of how Vine can be used. The helmet concept is simple, but entertaining and effective.

 

Cowboys

When you have certain stories you tell over and over every year, I believe in finding different angles to take. What’s different about the story from last year? The Cowboys put together a GIF that highlight fun stats and tidbits. It’s a great example of finding different storylines.

 


 

What other NFL schedule release content stood out to you? Share below!

Thanks for reading.