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…

 
 

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?


The Newsfeed

“I honestly wouldn't like to communicate with brands, unless it is to solve problems their brand is causing.”—Female, 27, MI

Why don’t people seem to care as much about fake followers on Instagram as on other platforms? Because while Facebook and Twitter are bashed for feeds full of fake news, no one holds Instagram to the same standard. The image-centric platform is inherently “a hyperreality,” where no one’s candid shot is truly spontaneous, and photo-shop freely fills feeds. Where does it get tricky? With Influencers, who are expected to garner true engagements for brands. (Real Life)

Influencer marketing faced another tricky situation this week when PopSugar replaced influencers’ affiliate links with their own. RewardStyle and its Instagram product LikeToKnow.it’s network of content creators’ photos and sometimes entire feeds “were copied to the site via “thousands of ‘falsified vanity pages’ containing millions of images belonging to the network’s content creators.” The group is planning on seeking a class-action lawsuit on their intellectual property and for the lost revenue that PopSugar made each time a customer clicked to purchase. (Racked)

Colleges are giving out more merit-based aid to win over top students. Tuition discount rates have risen to a record 49.1% for first-time, full-time freshman attending private universities, up over 10% from ten years prior—according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. By using data-driven analysis to calculate just how much aid is likely to lure a top student in, colleges are seeing success upping their prestige. However, the practice has also “created a closing of the doors for low-income students,” according to one policy analyst. (WSJ)

Apple is betting that young consumers could bring back magazines via a magazine subscription service. The tech company took a gamble by buying Texture, a subscription service for over 200 titles that’s been dubbed the “Netflix of Magazine Publishing.” The app aggregates articles into a single browsing experience, rather than being separated by title, and pays the included publications. Apple has announced plans to integrate the service into their Apple News app, the latest incarnation of their less-than-successful Newsstand app. (Bloomberg)

Function of Beauty is customizing hair care, blending up shampoo and conditioner for each customer based off a five-question quiz. Beauty companies big and small have hopped on the Customization Nation trend, and Function of Beauty takes that to the next level with their hyper-personalized hair care set. They're customizing everything from the fragrance to the chemical components, and even going so far as to print the purchaser’s name on each product. The founder explains, "Every single person is unique and different...why negate that instead of catering to it?" (Paper)

“[Allison Raskin] is open about her struggles with mental health, and she is also funny.”—Female, 19, CA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies