5 Marketing Lessons We Learned from Super Bowl LI

It’s the biggest marketing night of the year, and it offers plenty of lessons about the current advertising climate...

Last night, the action on the field (from the halftime show to the nail-biting, record-making overtime) arguably overshadowed the ads on what is traditionally the biggest marketing night of the year. Once again, most brands released their commercials in advance of the big game—allowing them to rack up more views and engagements ahead of time, but taking away the element of surprise. But even without any ad shockers or clear brand winners, the controversies, compliments, and engagements that the 2017 Super Bowl marketing has stirred up offer plenty of lessons. Here are five we took away from game night:

1. These days, nearly every ad—and every brand—can be political.

We don’t have to tell anyone that viewers are currently in a mindset of political extremes—but we were reminded last night that today’s tense national climate means that every brand can make a political statement in marketing, sometimes unintentionally. The biggest trend in ads for Super Bowl LI was political messaging, sometimes from some unexpected places. For their first-ever Super Bowl ad, family-owned 84 Lumber told a story about immigration that was deemed too controversial by Fox. Viewers were instructed to go online to see the conclusion of the commercial featuring a mother and daughter journeying across Mexico to the border, and the brand’s site crashed thanks to the number who did just that. Messages of diversity and inclusion were common (see below), and even haircare brand It’s a 10 “trolled the President” with an ad telling viewers “America, we’re in for at least four years of awful hair.” It doesn’t matter how big or known you are, these days every brand can make a political statement. At…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I love watching movies and shows uninterrupted.”—Female, 18, CO

Mattel just made the first hijab-wearing Barbie. She’s based on Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won the Olympic bronze medal for fencing for the U.S. while wearing a hijab. Brands are bringing diversity to the toy aisle to appease The Diversity Tipping Point generation’s appetite for inclusion, and this new doll is a step in the right direction. She gives girls a new role model and (in Muhammad’s words) encourages them "to embrace what makes them unique." Mattel has plans to create an entire line of Barbies based on inspirational women next year. (BBC)

Another ‘90s classic, Are You Afraid of the Dark, is coming to the big screen and revisiting Millennials’ childhood nightmares. Nostalgia entertainment is big business for the entertainment industry, who are hoping to capitalize on Millennials and Gen Z’s trademark wistfulness, and it doesn’t hurt that this screenplay for the remake is being written by It’s screenwriter. With horror proving it can bring in massive audiences these days, this mixture of dark content and nostalgia is a good bet to get them in theaters. (Collider)

Millennials are causing a “baby bust”—they aren’t having enough kids to keep the U.S. population at the “replacement level.” According to the Negative Population Growth Inc., the birth rate has dropped below the death rate, with women are having an average of just 1.8 births compared to the 2.1 needed to keep the population steady. The research blames all Millennials for the drop, reporting that “irth rates for all age groups of women under 30 fell to record lows in 2016.” (Washington Examiner)

Kellogg’s is coming back to NYC, with a bigger (and maybe better) cereal café than last year’s Times Square popup. The 5,000 square foot Union Square space will be a permanent place for Millennials to try crafty concoctions from Kellogg’s, who hopes getting the demo to rethink the product will keep Millennials from “killing” cereal as we know it. The company claims “It’ll be a destination for foodies and people to chill, create and explore the endless possibilities of cereal all in one place, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or a snack later in the day.” (CSA)

People are binging Netflix in public—at work, in line, and even on the toilet. A new study from Netflix found that 67% of viewers have watched a show or movie in public, 37% admit to tuning in at work, and 12% have pressed play in a public restroom. One in five have cried during a public streaming session, and 11% have seen a spoiler on another public streamer’s screen—but that’s not stopping them. The Binge Effect is real and bigger than ever: 60% of respondents said they binge more content than they did last year. (MashableMarkets Insider)

“I really enjoyed Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul does a really good job capturing the same intensity and intrigue that the original series did…”—Male, 28, NY

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