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Three adult guys in anticipation of next score

We’re football fans at my house (Go Seahawks!), so naturally – Sunday was all about the Super Bowl. Also, as a marketer, I’m an avid fan of watching the #BrandBowl – or the parade of multi-million dollar ads that delight, anger, or just leave us scratching our heads for the rest of the year.

Whether you are a football fan or not, there’s a good chance you were one of the more than 111 million people who tuned in to see the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons. Let’s take a moment and talk about one of the scene-stealers at this year’s game:

Those. Drones.

During Lady Gaga’s performance, 300 synchronized drones – armed with 4 billion color combinations performed aerial acrobatics. The gorgeous display flickered from shooting stars to a beautiful version of the American flag.

This year’s Super Bowl was one for the books – especially in the marketing department. I’ve put together a few things you’ll want to watch, and what they could mean for the future of small business marketing.

#1: Send in the Drones

The drones used in the Super Bowl make up Intel’s Shooting Star Drone Squad, and have been touring at Disney for the past few weeks. The feat of engineering is ushering in a new age in drone use and potential marketing opportunities.

From a content perspective, drones provide the opportunity for unique photography and videography opportunities. From city tours to shooting your own commercial, you can get studio-quality visuals with these devices.

From the Super Bowl performance, expect to see new trends using drones taking center stage from action capturing to actors. Drones offer an instant “wow” factor – with or without the light show.

Drones also can be used to interact with customers in new, interactive ways. Take Amazon’s ad for example – they are leading the market on putting drones to work.

With drone use comes some necessary precautions. Check out this article for drone regulations and understanding the rules around “No Fly” Zones. A little research goes a long way towards avoiding breaking the law and earning hefty fines.

#2: Controversy Is Still Controversial & Cause Marketing is a Winner

With today’s political climate, it was no surprise that many ads featured controversial topics. Brands like 84 Lumber, and even historic fan-favorite Budweiser faced backlash from their immigration-centric campaigns. However – the ads got people talking.

This goes back to the age-old marketing question: Is the disruptive nature of controversial ad content worth the potential backlash?

We’ve discussed the best practices for using political content in your brand messaging, and we think these brands did it well. They focused on the issue, not on a particular politician or organization. However, there was still outcry.

With the current nature of our 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week information-saturated society, sometimes the audience needs a little shock to the system to pay attention. You just risk quite a bit by taking this approach.

At the same time, the conversation comes down to your core values. Is this cause or issue worth putting your business on the line? We believe in taking risks, just make sure they are relevant to your brand. You need to make it part of your story.

While less controversial, we love the story Hyundai told in their Operation Better ad campaign.

#3: Hashtags are Still Relevant

Airbnb was mentioned 854 times by Twitter users during the big game, and their hashtag #WeAccept received more than 25,000 interactions per tweet. That’s a reach of more than 21 million!

Hashtags are your ticket to a bigger conversation. Your brand needs to know how to leverage this tool to increase your message.

#4: The Middle Ground Between Strange and Funny is Money

Did you catch that Mr. Clean ad? It was a completely new direction for Proctor & Gamble, but it worked. The audience just loves awkward, fun, and narratives that are a little out there.

What can you learn from these trends? People want to be entertained. They want something interesting to look at. They crave something that sparks conversation. Focus less on pitching your products and services, and more on giving the people what they want. Solve problems, but do it with style.

Until next year, sports fans!

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