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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Quote of the Day: “It's free to walk to work and I get some exercise in.”—Female, 26, NY

Niche beauty brands have blurred gender lines at their core—can large cosmetics companies play catch up without seeming “disingenuous”? Milk Makeup and Fluide have built their brands on being inclusive, but larger brands sometimes strike consumers as hopping on the band wagon when they try to do the same—especially since they created so many of the gender norms they’re now rallying against. The best way for them to get in on the trend? Start by making their hiring process more inclusive both “behind the lens” and in front of it. (Fast Company)

Starbucks thinks the “health and wellness” trend is to blame for declining Frappuccino sales. Despite marketing efforts like the Unicorn Frappuccino, syrupy drink sales are down 3% from last year. However, rivals like McDonald’s and Dunkin' Donuts could be stealing sugary beverage sales from the coffee giant, meaning young consumers’ penchant for healthification isn't necessarily the culprit. In fact, McDonalds recently debuted two new frozen drinks that earning praising on Twitter. (NYPFox News)

Apple is getting into kids’ content, teaming up with Sesame Workshop for a slate of original shows. Live-action, animated, and puppet-based series will be included in the programming, but Sesame Street itself is not part of the deal. There are no details yet on where Apple will release the shows, meaning they could either shop them to another platform or debut them on their own streaming platform. Considering that Apple has several original program deals in the works, they could be looking to bulk up their own bid in the streaming wars. (Kidscreen)

Twitter and Tumblr posts are getting a new lease on life—as screenshots on Instagram. While young users of Twitter and Tumblr have declined, Ypulse’s Social Media Trackerfound that over half of 13-35-year-olds use Instagram daily. Instagram is the preferred place to post memes, despite many accounts creating their content elsewhere. Why do they switch platforms to post? Instagram’s Discover tab allows faster browsing than Twitter, while Instagram images are displayed in full rather than being cut off, like they are on Twitter. (The Verge)

Eggo sales are down in between seasons of Stranger Things. Yes, the sci-fi series has that much influence on the frozen waffle’s revenue. One Eggo executive explains that they “quickly leveraged the [resulting] consumer engagement” from the show, and it paid off: sales jumped 14% in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 9.4% for the first four months of 2018. However, fewer people are binging the Gen Z & Millennial favorite these days, so Kellogg’s frozen pancakes, waffles, and French toast sales have slowed to just 1.3% year-over-year. (CNN)

Quote of the Day: “I fell in love with trance music.”—Male, 23, NY

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