Lessons Learned from 2013 Super Bowl Ads

The twitpic heard 'round the world. Image: Oreo.

Now that you've had a little time to absorb an 108-yard touchdown and a 34-minute power outage, let's take another look at all of those insane 2013 Super Bowl ads. I want to talk to you about what we, as stewards of (slightly) smaller brands can learn. We probably won't have 3.8 million to spend on a 30-minute spot anytime soon, but there are some good lessons nonetheless.

1) Tell a great story, but connect it to something related. Commercials from Jeep (agency: GlobalHue) and Dodge (agency: The Richards Group) told great stories, with high quality imagery and emotionally gripping content. Unfortunately, at the end of a heart-wrenching story about how much we want those in our military to come home safe, we're pitched a sport utility vehicle, rather than, say, a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project. The Dodge commercial had the same issue. We're called upon to stop taking farmers for granted and to realize the true value of American agriculture, and just when we're moved to support our local 4H or CSA, we're sold a pickup truck.

2) If you truly have the connection, then capitalize on that. Don't be theoretical about it. These ads got high ratings (though they aren't generating a lot of vehicle purchase consideration), but the retired service members who were at the Super Bowl party I went to felt manipulated and felt the tie-ins to Dodge and Jeep were inappropriate. The worst part is that Dodge and Jeep are big supporters of Future Farmers of America and the USO, respectively. But they were unable to make the most of these connections in their ads because they didn't effectively explain (at least not to the folks at my party) what was going on with these partnerships. There was a Jeep/USO logo at the end of the Jeep ad, but my fellow partygoers were so turned off by the ad that they weren't paying attention. The Dodge ad never seems to mention FFA.  How do you think these ads would have been received if they'd opened with each brand explaining how and why it supported its partner non-profit? Don't assume that your audience knows everything about your brand. 

3) Make the most of the moment. Marketers like us have heard a lot this week about Oreo's timely tweet in the midst of the Super Bowl power outage. How did they do it? They put together a war room of everyone involved in their campaign (designers, writers, creative directors, Oreo's own brand messengers, etc.) so that they could get content created, approved, and published in record time. At smaller organizations, we aren't going to have such complex structures, but we can take a lesson from this: Think about opportunities you might have this year to capitalize on events in real time, and figure out who would  need to be in the room if you wanted to turn on a dime like Oreo.

What did you think about this year's Super Bowl ads? More backward sexism and cultural stereotyping than last year, or less? Better music and dancing? Cuter baby animals? Let me know which ones you liked and which ones made you wanna go "meh."

What Mobile Means to Your Marketing in 2013

It's time to get out of denial.

Image: Social Media HQ on Flickr.
You can't look the other way any longer. A new study by Experian finds that 44% of email opens happen on mobile devices. At the same time, eMarketer predicts that US consumers will spend $37.44 billion on mobile shopping in 2013. Mobile seems expensive and overwhelming. Your marketing budget's already stretched to the limit. What's a small operation to do?

1) Visit your web site from your mobile device, and your friends' mobile devices. Do you have to do a  lot of zooming in and out? Are the links too small to click? Is data that might be critical for mobile users (like your location and hours) easy to find? What's the difference between the phone and tablet experience?

This is called "responsive design" and even though your budget's stretched, it's critical that your site can respond to whatever device is using it. Otherwise, you may be turning your audience away at the door. Decide which elements aren't working for mobile users of your web site, and then invest in a web designer who can fix this for you. Make sure to find a specialist in responsive design. You'll want to incorporate easy clicking, quick loading, and simple navigation.

2) Don't just visit your web site, try buying something, making a donation, signing up for email, account login, and any other transactional functions from your phone and tablet. Note what's kludgey and what works well. Have your responsive design pro fix the kludgey parts. Does your purchase process take three or four screens? This is too many anyway - now's a good time to reduce that to one screen, no matter what device folks are using.

3) Figure out what mobile apps already exist that can help you. Are you on Facebook and Twitter, where lots of people surf while on their mobile devices? Are you on Yelp and other local review sites? Have you thought about selling your products on Amazon or other shopping sites? Can people check into your store on apps like Foursquare? If you're a non-profit, have you investigated Facebook Causes or worked with mobile providers to make text donations easy?

4) Then, and only then, consider whether or not you need to go the expense of having someone develop a mobile app for you. What will you do with it? How will it support lead generation, sales, or donations? On which devices will it be available? How will it leverage your brand? You may not even need a mobile app. Making your web site mobile-friendly is far, far more important.

Is mobile marketing giving you hives? Share your angst in the comments.

2013 Marketing Trends

What are your 2013 marketing resolutions?

There are a few things I'd recommend you do this year to make sure your marketing does what you need it to. Some ideas:

1) Make a plan. What are your business goals this year? Is there a level of growth you need to achieve? Are you opening new channels or locations? Are you launching new products? You should map your marketing plan to your overall business plan for 2013. Then, you'll be marketing intentionally and you'll see better results. This will also help you to discard tactics that don't support your business goals.

Plan. From Flickr user J'Roo.
2) Keep mobile in mind. Mobile marketing isn't going away - more of your customers will be looking at your web site or reading your emails from mobile devices than ever. In fact, more than 8 in 10 smartphone owners surveyed used their smartphones to research and browse for products for their recent holiday shopping.

Your takeaway? Remember, you may not need to spend lots of money developing your own mobile app, but you should make sure your web site and your emails are readable and clickable on a variety of devices. With so many people using touchscreens today, think about how you can make links more accessible. Also, can you make mobile buying easier with one-click buying?

3) Customize whenever you can. Are you still sending out identical non-personalized blast emails to your customers and prospects? How are they doing? There's a lot of good reasons to use dynamic content to personalize your messaging - customers want to know that you know who they are  and what they like. If you can help make their next purchase a little easier, everyone benefits. Also, by respecting prospects and meeting them where they are, you can get them ready for purchase in a way that feels more like a dialogue and less like a command to buy.

What are your 2013 marketing resolutions? Unsure how to get there? Let me know, I can help.

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