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

“[Anna Victoria is] a good role model to women and is changing the way the world looks at fitness and body image.”—Female, 21, CA

Abercrombie & Fitch is going gender-neutral for their new kids’ clothing line. The “Everybody Collection” features “tops, bottoms, and accessories” for five-14-year-old boys and girls. A&F’s Brand President explained their decision to appeal to The Genreless Generation: "Parents and their kids don’t want to be confined to specific colors and styles, depending on whether shopping for a boy or a girl.'' The line of 25 new styles will be rolling out online and to 70 stores, starting this month. (Today)

Millennials & Gen Z already think the Nintendo Switch is cool, and now the brand is giving them more ways to use it. They’re introducing Nintendo Labo, “cardboard-based, interactive DIY experiences” for the Switch, tapping into the “toys-to-life” trend. The variety kit lets players construct five different “Toy-Con” experiences that include turning the Joy-Con controller into a motorbike handle complete with a throttle that can be twisted to accelerate, and creating a piano that senses which keys are pressed to produce the correct musical note. (Kidscreen)

YouTube is pulling Tide Pod Challenge videos from its platform. Teens started eating Tide pods when memes showcasing their Gusher-like colors went viral. The brand has since issued warnings not to eat the pods, and some stores have even begun locking up the product. YouTube has explained the decision to take down the popular pod-eating videos as a continuation of their policy to “prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm." Some are suggesting that pressure from parent company Procter & Gamble may have also been a factor. (Mashable)

The streaming wars are continuing, but audiences are turning to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for very different kinds of content. Hub Entertainment Research found original content is winning users' time on Netflix, while over half watch Hulu for its syndicated collection, and movies are most popular on Amazon Prime. The study also found that most Americans overall spend their entertainment time watching TV (40%), but 18-24-year-olds are most likely to engage with gaming and online video, like YouTube. (Quartz)

Outdoor Voices embraced Millennials’ minimal moment to break onto the athleisure scene. The brandless brand goes for a minimalist aesthetic with pops of color, and sees itself as an anti-Nike of sorts. The founder explains that they’re “a recreational Nike” because “With Nike and so many other brands, it’s really about being an expert, being the best. With OV, it’s about how you stay healthy—and happy.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working: the company has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2013, climbing a startling 800% in 2016 alone. (Vogue)

“I saw some heartbreaking stories in the internet, and decided to look up some international charities and donate to them.”—Male, 20, WA

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