Tag Archives: Super Bowl

A Not So Super Formula

Super Bowl Sunday is not only a celebration of the NFL championship. It’s also a day celebrating commercialism is in its glory. While some forms of it are heinous (think of the price-gouging going on in and around the stadium), I think most of us enjoy checking out the commercials each year. Some are funny, some are just dumb, but all of them are selling us something.

Photo by Andrae Ricketts

The commercials got me thinking about another form of selling that made news this weekend. You’ve probably heard about the memo released by a member of Congress concerning the investigation into how Russia interfered in our election. Putting aside the politics (we don’t do them here), it provides a very instructive thought about marketing.

Much like the release of a new movie or any other product, the memo was preceded by a campaign to raise awareness of it. There was a hashtag used to build that awareness along with demand and various friendly outlets promoted the fact that the memo was something all Americans should see. That’s where things go off the rails a bit since the reason given why we should all see this document was that it contained new, critical information. The promise was that once we all saw this information, our perception of how the investigation was being run or even its entire existence would be called into question. That, dear readers, is the lesson.

The memo was released and while to some it was a big deal, the general response to it was that it’s a big dud that contained nothing new and was somewhat misleading. In fact, some of the folks who were hyping its release are now backing away. What it shows us is the problem with overselling.

Overselling in its simplest form is selling more than you have to offer. If you’re an airline or hotel, you sell more seats or rooms than you have because there are usually cancellations or no-shows. It another form, overselling is going well beyond the substance of what you have, teeing up the consumer for disappointment when they find you’ve underdelivered. It’s an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Isn’t hyperbole part of selling? I don’t think so. In fact, I think great selling is about helping a prospect gain clarity about their situation while hyperbole is about obstructing reality to a certain extent. Overpromising and underdelivering, whether in releasing a report or running an ad in the Super Bowl, is a formula for failure in my book. Yours?

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Those Who Aren’t Watching

It’s the Foodie Friday before the Super Bowl. It’s hard for me to imagine The Big Game without food. If I’m invited to a party there is usually an assortment of chips, dips, and snacks to get us through until halftime, when some sort of “main” is brought out. It could be a six-foot deli sandwich or a pot of chili – no self-respecting fan wants to be hovering over a grill or a stove during the Ultimate Game (which, as Hollywood Henderson once pondered, if it’s really the ultimate game, why will they play it again next year?). Many years I stay home and watch the game with someone else who is there TO WATCH THE DAMN GAME and not make idle conversation.

English: American-style pigs in blankets.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, I do need sustenance for my fandom. It’s not football without weenies (pigs in a blanket, hot dogs in puff pastry, whatever you call them) or jalapeño poppers (they look like little footballs!). This year I’ll throw a pork shoulder in either the pressure cooker or the slow cooker for some pulled pork at the half. That will be done long before kickoff.

I rarely go to a sports bar to watch the game. The big advantage is that the food is made for me and there are more choices than I’d have at home or at most parties. The noise level, however, is a big minus, not to mention the cost. Still, this is a choice for a lot of fans as well.

But there is one other segment of people that are instructive for us today. Even the most widely-watched Super Bowls aren’t watched by everyone. There are just some people who aren’t sports fans (the horror!). And they are an opportunity. I’m willing to bet it’s a great Sunday evening to get into almost any restaurant you’d like, and therein lies our business thought.

There are almost always opportunities available if you dig deeply enough. The availability of highly-targeted, one to one media has made it possible to identify the niche audiences that can be aggregated into a great business. That restaurant that might otherwise be empty on Super Bowl Sunday? How about calling or emailing your wait-list or the people who left phone numbers in the event of a cancellation? Maybe seat some folks earlier than usual, promising to have them out by the end of the first half so they can hit a bar or a party or home to watch the second half (the first half of these games tend to be dull anyway).

You take my point. This is the biggest event of every year and yet not everyone cares. Find them – there’s a good business opportunity there. Even the big guys in your category have people who aren’t fans. How are you going to seek them out? The rest of you – enjoy the game!

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Any Press

There is an old expression that “any press is good press.” It has a couple of corollaries – “as long as they spell my name right” being one. I’d like to examine that in light of the most talked about ad of last night’s Super Bowl, Puppymonkeybaby.” This was a bizarre ad for a new flavor of soda and featured three lovable things – a puppy, a monkey, and a baby – mashed up into a strange creature. I’m sure you’ve seen the ad by now. 
According to iSpot.tv:

Mountain Dew dominated Super Bowl winning 1st place for the top performing commercial on game-day with its weirdly unmistakable “Puppymonkeybaby” ad. Even with so many ads, this unique spot captured nearly 13% of the big game’s Digital Share of Voice, generating over 244k social actions and a total social volume of over 272mm impressions and more than 2.25mm organic video views on game day.

No question that the ad made an impression. It finished, however, towards the bottom of the USA Today ad meter rankings (almost 20,000 pre-registered people weigh in) and, more importantly, lit up social media with comments ranging from humorous (adopt your puppymonkeybaby from a shelter) to the negative (I’ve never felt so uncomfortable watching a commercial) to the frightened (I don’t even know what #puppymonkeybaby was supposed to be advertising. All I know is the fear.) Generally, the comments were negative.

So is any press – or our 2016 version of press – social media – good press? I don’t think so.  Any brand that thinks just getting their name out there is following a terribly misguided strategy.  Huge amounts of  press for the wrong reasons can kill a brand.  The folks at the Stanford Graduate School of Business put out a study that said in some cases negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown, simply because it stimulates product awareness.  Their thinking is that the negative impression fades over time and increased awareness may remain.  Given how most people research today using search engines, you can be very sure the negative impression will remain too.

Any press isn’t good press.  I won’t be buying the soda and I’m not buying that the negative impression made by the ad is a good thing. You?

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The Wily Old Veteran

Courtesy Jeffrey Beall

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and if you’re not going to be watching it you are a member of a small minority in this country. It’s been hard to avoid hearing about the upcoming tilt for weeks, and it has become almost impossible this week. That’s not a complaint, by the way. I’m a huge fan and while it’s sad to see the NFL season end, this year’s game offers us something of a business lesson as part of the deal.

Amidst all of the hoopla, you might have heard Peyton Manning’s name more than once. If you follow the game at all you’re aware that he is a guaranteed first-ballot Hall Of Fame player who might be playing in his last game. You might also be aware that he missed a significant part of the regular season with a foot injury. In his place, Brock Osweiler came in and lead the team to a number of victories. He is clearly Denver’s quarterback of the future. Even after Manning got healthy, Osweiler had the starting job and was only back on the bench after Denver stumbled in a late season game and Manning came in. So why is Manning starting the Super Bowl?

You might say “oh, it’s a tribute to his wonderful career and that must be respected.” The real answer is the business point today. As an article written about the game said

Manning, not Osweiler, will start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers after reclaiming the job he lost to foot problems and turnovers earlier in the season. The five-time MVP‘s experience outweighed his limitations for the stretch run on a Denver team that relies on the running game and defense.

Experience isn’t something that you can teach – it’s something you need to gain over time. As I tell clients – most of whom are younger than I am – you hire me in part so that you don’t make all the mistakes I’ve made over the years. While you can stay up all night to work through a problem, I have probably faced the same problem multiple times over the last 40 years.  It might be possible to read about business and to learn (and I encourage you to do so!), but there is no substitute for living through business situations.  That takes time, patience, an open mind, and a willingness to accept that there might be many valid solutions to the problem you’re facing.

I will be rooting for the wily old veteran to have a good game no matter how his team does.  Every team needs one to help lead them into battle.  How about yours?

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Posts Of The Year – #1

The post below was originally called Worst. Call. Ever. and was written the morning after the Super Bowl.  Maybe it really resonated with all of you or maybe it was just good SEO, but this became the most-read post of 2015.  It’s the kind of post I love to write: take an everyday event and extract some point that makes us better businesspeople.  Tomorrow we’ll have the year’s top Foodie Friday post (even though it’s Thursday!).  Enjoy.

I suspect you watched the Super Bowl last night. Hopefully, you did so all the way to the end and you witnessed the subject of today’s rant. For any of you who missed it, the Seahawks were driving and were on the 1-yard line, about to win the game. They just had to run it in and had 3 tries to do so (OK, maybe 2 since they only had one time out left). I’ll let the Times explain: 

A team with Marshawn Lynch, one of the best goal-line running backs in football, instead opted for a far riskier option, and Malcolm Butler made them pay, intercepting the ball at the goal line to effectively end the Seahawks’ hopes of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Coach Pete Carroll took responsibility for the call after the game. So did his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell. Whoever actually made the call, the decision joins an ignominious list of the worst coaching decisions in sports history.

There is a business point in that decision.  Simply put, rather relying on the proven strengths of his team, the coach opted for trickery.  Obviously, it backfired and they lost the game.  It’s a good lesson for all of us.  We invest a lot of time in building our team and our business.  We come to realize over that time the things at which we excel and which help us win.  Those are the things upon which we must rely, especially during crunch time.  Trying “trickeration” may seem like a fine idea but it usually isn’t as good as doing what is known to work.

It wasn’t absurd to think of trying a pass play when everyone is expecting a run.  What made it such a bad call was that the passing game hadn’t been particularly effective and the Seahawks had lived on Lynch’s running ability all season.  Expecting him to run at you is not the same as stopping him and the Patriots hadn’t done so without at least a yard gained during the game very often.   In business, it’s not about what the competition is expecting.  It’s not about trickery or fooling anyone.  It’s about executing better than they do and producing a better product or service.  Ask Apple.

Thoughts?

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Worst. Call. Ever.

I suspect you watched the Super Bowl last night. Hopefully you did so all the way to the end and you witnessed the subject of today’s rant. For any of you who missed it, the Seahawks were driving and were on the 1 yard line, about to win the game. They just had to run it in and had 3 tries to do so (OK, maybe 2 since they only had one time out left). I’ll let the Times explain:

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A team with Marshawn Lynch, one of the best goal-line running backs in football, instead opted for a far riskier option, and Malcolm Butler made them pay, intercepting the ball at the goal line to effectively end the Seahawks’ hopes of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl.

Coach Pete Carroll took responsibility for the call after the game. So did his offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell. Whoever actually made the call, the decision joins an ignominious list of the worst coaching decisions in sports history.

There is a business point in that decision.  Simply put, rather relying on the proven strengths of his team, the coach opted for trickery.  Obviously, it backfired and they lost the game.  It’s a good lesson for all of us.  We invest a lot of time in building our team and our business.  We come to realize over that time the things at which we excel and which help us win.  Those are the things upon which we must rely, especially during crunch time.  Trying “trickeration” may seem like a fine idea but it usually isn’t as good as doing what is known to work.

It wasn’t absurd to think of trying a pass play when everyone is expecting a run.  What made it such a bad call was that the passing game hadn’t been particularly effective and the Seahawks had lived on Lynch’s running ability all season.  Expecting him to run at you is not the same as stopping him and the Patriots hadn’t done so without at least a yard gained during the game very often.   In business it’s not about what the competition is expecting.  It’s not about trickery or fooling anyone.  It’s about executing better than they do and producing a better product or service.  Ask Apple.

Thoughts?

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Getting Engaged

Last night was the annual advertising festival known as “The Super Bowl.”

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They play a football game while the ads aren’t running although the one they played last night was not great. If you think I’m emphasizing the ads over the game or being a little too tongue in cheek some polls find up to half the viewers consider the ads their favorite part of the viewing experience.

This morning there is ample discussion of the ads and given that time in the game itself cost north of $4,000,000 for a 30-second unit, the brands running these ads try to deploy them before the game in the hopes that they’ll “go viral” to some extent.  They were successful: Super Bowl ads running on YouTube weeks before the big game were watched 66,058,625 times before this weekend. Since that’s all the ads in the aggregate, it’s only a fraction of the audience the commercials had in the game broadcast.  However, every eyeball is valuable and the digital versions can be looked at in other ways that demonstrate engagement.

According to Tubular Labs, an analytics company,  a number of the ads also generated some buzz via tweets and  Facebook shares and they compared those activities to the ads’ YouTube views to measure the total viewer engagement with the ads.  That’s where I get a little lost and here’s what I mean.

There is an AXE ad with  3.6million views.  It was shared on Facebook 50,000 times and tweeted roughly 5,900 times.  The analytics company says these social actions translate into a 1.6% engagment rate which was the highest they saw.  The lowest engagement, for a Butterfinger ad, was tiny – .03% and shares were in the hundreds.  Interesting, but it leaves out a very key measurement.

What is every one of those shares for the AXE ad went something like this:  “Kiss For Peace” is the worst ad I’ve ever seen.  Why would you waste money on this crap?  I’m never going to consider AXE again.  Engaged?  Yes.  But is that the sort of engagement we want as marketers?  What if every Butterfinger share raved about how good it the ad was and expressed a desire to eat a Butterfinger immediately?  Better?

It’s always important to measure.  It’s also important to dig a little deeper into those measurements.  I’d take smaller positive engagement over larger expressions of anger every time.  It’s not just “what is it?” but also “what of it?” as we gather data.  Make sense?

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