Author Archives: Patrick Wentling
You already know the story. For the first time in the modern era of the NFL, the Super Bowl will be in an outdoor, “cold weather” location in East Rutherford, New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. Although it’s located in the largest metropolitan area in the country, the weather remains the most talked about storyline for the game. With the “polar vortex” stalled in the area, people are asking how cold it will be. Will it snow? Will Bruno Mars be able to perform? My personal favorite is “how will fair weather players like Peyton Manning survive?”
While the weather presents an entertaining storyline, there are more dangerous factors to consider than how potential cold and snow will affect the players’ performance during the game. As one of the most watched events on TV, the game is typically the least concerning property for fans watching at home. It’s a chance for football and ad lovers to gather, socialize and see what all the buzz is about from the warm comfort of their couches. Given this year’s setup, a larger concern has to come from the safety of everyone involved. At what point is it just too cold? At what point is it a risk for anyone to actually be at the game? Is the NFL prepared to postpone the Super Bowl if need be? How would such an action affect viewership, ad spend and, ultimately, future games? And when is it the right time to decide to postpone the game?
When you’re such an enormous juggernaut like the NFL, you have to be ready to do anything and everything to plan for the unplanned. That means a black out, an owner lock out, a referee lock out, a major lawsuit towards the mental health of the players, a wardrobe malfunction, and even the possibility of postponing the Super Bowl. It’s a circumstance that the NFL doesn’t want to publicly acknowledge but has no choice to privately embrace – particularly in the live event space, where anything can and sometimes will go wrong.
It’s a classic case of preparing a crisis communications strategy and making a “worst-case-scenario” plan. Postponing the Super Bowl is a last resort but is the lesser of two evils should the game happen in poor conditions and something truly tragic happens. The NFL certainly calculated the risks prior to agreeing to host the Super Bowl in a cold weather area.
Another thing to consider: any move by the NFL trickles down to everyone else – the broadcasting station, the various sponsors, the fans who traveled to attend – all the way down to the bars and families hosting watch parties. My hope is that everyone (save for the families) has a plan in place as a backup. And in a similar major sporting event vein, NBC is prepping its own crisis communications plan for next month’s Winter Olympics – which will kick off just days following the Super Bowl. It goes to show that, while you can’t prepare for everything, the crisis plan you write today can in fact serve as a great base to combat any real crises that may arise down the road.
But personally, I’m hoping for festive, safe snow, a la the Snow Bowl in South Philadelphia last month.
Ever since Ron Burgundy crashed Conan O’Brien’s studio last year to announce the “Anchorman” sequel, momentum has been building in the social world in anticipation of the reunion of the “Channel 4 News Team.” Paramount Studios has heard the buzz and answered it with a social blitz unseen by most films. And with today’s release of “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” the hype just continues to grow.
Part of the success of “Anchorman” yields from the love of the main character, Ron Burgundy. Say what you will about the most ignorant broadcaster in San Diego but, as he puts it, he is kind of a big deal. His status has reached that cult following that many classic entertainment properties garner. Before social media, these followings always stayed “underground.” Now with social media, fans are able to connect around the world and grow at an exponential rate.
“Anchorman”/Paramount capitalized on the character’s popularity and teleported him from the 1970’s to the present – having him provide commentary on a curling match, advertising for “Yodge” trucks, dissing said “Yodge” trucks, hosting a local newscast and so on. It’s a walking “ad” for the new movie, yet it’s an ad you actually want to watch. You want to watch curling to see what Burgundy might say (hopefully no one messes with the teleprompter.) It’s an ad that you can’t turn away from and won’t skip through.
Thanks to YouTube and word of mouth, the truly amazing part of each of these activations is that they can go viral faster than a Ron Burgundy Cannonball. In the old days, guest hosting a newscast in North Dakota would be seen as a tremendous waste of resources. In today’s world, “Ron” can do it and be viewed by the entire world the very next day. What a PR opportunity for not only “Anchorman” but the local station itself.
What’s unique about “Anchorman 2” that nearly ten years have passed since the first film. The original came out before Facebook or Twitter existed. Now it’s unfathomable to think about life without these platforms. “Anchorman” is the rare film franchise that has properties in both worlds – and what a difference we’ve seen between both.
Unfortunately, it’s not a formula that every film can capitalize on. You won’t see Batman competing in a UFC fight before the release of the next film. Katniss Everdeen won’t be competing in the Olympics for archery. Ron Burgundy, though, has the perfect platform for marketing his role because the character can be smoothly integrated into practically anything including out-of-the-box ideas like an appearance on SportsCenter. His cult following has people who want to see him in the real world.
Hats off to the social team at Paramount. The film was already one of the most anticipated of 2013.
This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.
We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement. He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.
In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way. It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.
The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.
His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.
Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative. The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.
Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.
Within our industry, the average tenure at one job stands at about four years, with the younger demographic spending less time than that before jumping ship. Is it an epidemic, or should we embrace it?
That was the topic of discussion at Tuesday’s panel “Supporting the 4-Year Career,” hosted by Minneapolis creative agency Carmichael Lynch during the ninth annual Advertising Week in New York. Moderated by Carmichael CEO Mike Lescarbeau, the panel consisted of recruiters, agency execs, and copywriters who supportthe new trend within the industry.
During the spirited debate, the conversation focused on two pivotal questions: Is the 4-year career a problem? Can staffers keep up the creative energy and enthusiasm for more than four years?
“You’ll notice a difference from when a new hire comes in and their energy is so high, until it plateaus to work they know they can get away with,” said Marcus Fischer, Chief Strategy Office with Carmichael Lynch. “What I look for in an interview is a passion point that may not even relate to work. I want to see that passion point and find out how to channel that into their career. A broad range of backgrounds is more interesting than purely agency specific careers.”
“Your resume needs to build a story, why you made that change and how to make it better,” said Carol Watson, President of Advertising Women of New York.
Alec Brownstein, freelance copywriter who has “observed” the 4-year career, was in favor of the constant change in careers.
“The most interesting thing a person can do is not based on their career path, but by following their passions,” said Brownstein. “There’s nothing holding you back anymore. Go out there and do something. Make something on your own. That will get you noticed and get you your next career.”
“The question I ask and everyone should ask before hiring someone is, ‘Is this place better if they are here or somewhere else?’” said Fischer.
Where do you stand in this trend? Are you in favor or against the 4-year career? Please share your thoughts in the comments.