Blog Archives

Super Bowl XLIV Preview: The Biggest Event of the Year

This year, the high holy day of American sports falls on Feb. 1, with kick off set for 6:30 p.m., ET as the Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.

An estimated television audience of 112 million will include a significant number of non-sports fans who are most interested in the commercials, for which NBC sold air time at a record $4.5 million per 30-second spot.

Here at DGC, we revel in all of it: The game, the parties, the commercials, the half-time show, the real-time marketing moments, social media, the second screen, the entire omni-channel experience and, of course, the PR opportunities that abound.

DGC staffers want all of our clients to win, but some have taken sides regarding the two teams that will actually play the game. Click on the video to find who they’re rooting for and why.

Think Nothing Big Happened at the Super Bowl? Think Again.

Sunday night proved to be a bit of a bore with the Seahawks dominating the entirety of the game. So what kept us watching at DGC? The marketing showdown of course! Here are a few trends that emerged from the biggest night in advertising:

  • Nostalgia trumped glitz: A lot of brands like Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet and Maserati took the sentimental route, opting for feel-good over splashy spots. For example, Microsoft inspired us with a :60 spot narrated by Steve Gleason, a former NFL player with ALS, through the use of eye tracking technology on a tablet. Steve speaks about how technology has the power to “take us places we’ve only dreamed of” as we see images of technology helping a woman hear for the first time, a child run with prosthetic legs and an elderly man losing his eyesight paint.
  • Brands ambush the Super Bowl: Brands that didn’t have TV spots during the big game got creative in how to reach large audiences. Newcastle was a winner, enlisting Anna Kendrick to star in its video “Behind the Scenes of the Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Brown Ale Almost Made.” While on the other end of the spectrum, jcpenney was sending out tweets filled with typos, calling it a stunt to promote its “Go USA” mittens. Other brands certainly had fun in the social conversation – Coors Light chimed in to suggest the department store drink responsibly and Kia offered a designated driver.
  • Light humor reigned: There was far less over the top, slapstick humor during this year’s big game. Outside of the expected Go Daddy ad, brands and advertisers went with lighter humor. Take Volkswagen’s “Wings” spot created by Project: Worldwide agency ARGONAUT where every 100,000 miles, a German engineer received a pair of wings. And in TurboTax’s “Love Hurts,” the brand compared watching the game between two teams that aren’t your own to watching your crush dance the night away at prom with a cool dude that isn’t you. And, on another nostalgic note, DGC client David&Goliath brought us back to The Matrix in its newest spot for Kia.
  • Double spots: Brands like Pistachio and Chevy doubled up on spots during the game. For instance, we got to see Stephen Colbert try to rely on his fame alone to carry the pistachio commercial but unfortunately fell short. In the second spot, the branding is amplified to the point where Colbert cracks his head open to reveal a pistachio inside.

And it didn’t stop there. Denver-based DGC client and Project: Worldwide agency Motive, along with Mekanism, created the Super Bowl Halftime Show for Pepsi. And DGC client Pandora hosted a “Pandora Presents” Event at the Bud Light Hotel in NYC on January 31. The show was headlined by Imagine Dragons, who just came off its well-received Grammy performance and Grammy award win the previous weekend.

We hope you enjoyed game day as much as we did. What was your favorite part?

Super Bowl Social and the Curse of the Second Album

On February 2, the Super Bowl descends upon New York. Pressure is building. Expectations are high. New York City is setting her table.

Sure, it’s the premier sporting event on the NFL calendar but Super Bowl XLVIII also marks the anniversary of Oreo’s pivotal blackout tweet (hard to remember we’re talking about a single tweet) responsible for “the next Oreo” battle cry bouncing around Madison Avenue.

Every major live event – be it music, entertainment or sports – provides a stage for brands to reach consumers. The recent Grammy’s proved no exception, and Arby’s arguably “nailed it,” capitalizing on a fortunate wardrobe choice by Pharrell Williams with a simple, sophisticated message:

arbys

The tweet even attracted kudos from Pepsi and Hyundai with responses that were both clever and classy, as reported by Adweek’s David Griner. That’s 83,741 retweets and 48,902 favorites, as of January 30.

But, back to the Super Bowl. In the competitive battle for social media glory, there are effectively two camps: those agencies with major brands as client/s that are looking to leverage a paid TV spot in the Super Bowl with social execution and those that are looking to piggyback on real-time social discussion on behalf of their client/s.

In the paid corner: Brands pay a reported $4 million on average for a 30-second spot (here’s a list of who has bought what in the Super Bowl according to Advertising Age), and that doesn’t include the sizable budgets needed to concept a killer Super Bowl spot, pay for stellar talent and production. The list goes on and on.

In the earned corner: The cost to have your real-time social team plugged in and ready to leap is miniscule in comparison. Sure, there’s work involved in having a solid social strategy in place including a crystal clear understanding of brand messaging and a lean, agile approval process, but as we’ve seen with the Oreo and Arby’s examples, there’s only so much content preparation you can do.

The standout performers from this month’s Golden Globes, as rounded up by Digiday’s Saya Weissman, were L’Oreal and Citi Bike. Their tweets were cute and on brand but felt “canned,” and the results – 9 retweets/14 favorites and 92 retweets/71 favorites, respectively – show it.

Perhaps what Oreo and Arby’s have demonstrated is that the only real way to make a huge impact using social media is to have a crackerjack copywriter that knows your brand at the ready to create quick, smart quips aside a robust monitoring system and streamlined approval procedure.

In any case, the eyes of those interested in marketing and advertising will be on Oreo, eagerly watching its Twitter and Instagram feeds to see what it serves up this year. In the cutthroat world of Super Bowl marketing, let’s hope it’s not the Lemmings to their 1984.

Marketers: Think Twice Before Sending a “Super” Tweet this Sunday

It’s been almost one year since Oreo came up with “The Tweet Heard Round the World.” When it comes to social media marketing, we still hold the Oreo example up as the Gold Standard – the cream filling of the crop if you will. The reason why shouldn’t be surprising. Since last year’s blackout-induced tweet, brands and individuals alike have tried to jump on buzz-worthy topics in an attempt to become part of the conversation in real-time. And, by and large, they have failed. Today’s call to action? To quote former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, “Don’t press send.”

As an industry, can we agree to be more judicious in our use of real-time marketing? Let’s not try to force lightning into the bottle. Examples of #TwitterFails are so common that BuzzFeed could have a section dedicated to them. And it isn’t limited to sporting events or real-time news.

AT&T was forced to apologize for a fairly innocuous tweet in remembrance of September 11. SpaghettiO’s raised the ire of the Twittersphere when it asked followers to “take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor.” While neither brand tweet was offensive, the general feeling was the brands were using national tragedy remembrances as marketing hooks and inserting themselves into conversations where they weren’t a natural fit.

This is a call to action to rethink real-time tweeting and consider your long-term marketing strategy instead. What is my bigger brand message? Does this ladder up to a longer-term strategy? Does it make sense for my auto/soda/beer/dog food company to be tweeting about Peyton Manning shivering in the cold? If the answer to any of those questions is no, don’t press send. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “better not to post a meme and be thought a fool than to hit send and remove all doubt.”

So to all of the marketers and brand managers and social media teams and anyone else who will be watching the Super Bowl and waiting for this year’s magic moment, take a moment to learn from those that have come before you. That doesn’t mean scrapping your social media strategy altogether, but be aware of the pitfalls of jumping into situations with content that isn’t true to your brand. Everyone wants to be the next “dunk in the dark,” but no one should risk being the next #TwitterFail.

Food for Thought: How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

When it comes to reaching a mass audience, TV is the undisputed king of all media (sorry, Howard Stern). Or is it? In this column, originally published in Adweek, Radha Subramanyam of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment demonstrates how radio delivers not only reach, but receptivity and the sense of community consumers want. Read on for insights on how marketers can create Super Bowl-style results with the original social medium:

How Advertisers Can Stoke Super Bowl Buzz Year Round

Look to radio for reach, receptivity and community By Radha Subramanyam

Football fans around the country geared up for weeks before last Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers and their opposing coaches—brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, who took sibling rivalry to new heights.

The big game did not disappoint.

From the power outage to the 49ers mounting an almost-comeback to that electric Beyoncé performance—there was no shortage of drama. And the commercials were no exception.

For marketers, advertising during the Super Bowl is a once-a-year moment of unprecedented reach and consumer attention. Never does advertising have a more captive audience. But most brands can’t afford the $3.8 million it takes to buy just a 30-second spot. What’s more, everyday TV buys don’t come close to generating the awareness of a Super Bowl spot—and in fact, can be a fumble for brands.

The magic of the Super Bowl ad spectacle is that rare alchemy of reach, receptivity and community. Don’t underestimate the power of community; at a time when we are more plugged in than ever through email, Twitter and Facebook, what many of us actually yearn for is to feel really connected. That’s the feeling we get when we’re sitting around the living room with family and friends, engaged in a common experience—like the Super Bowl. But if you want to achieve Super Bowl-sized results all year, radio is the only medium that delivers a Super Bowl kind of reach, receptivity and community year round.

To read the full column, click here.

Super Bowl XLVII – Cut the Lights, Cue the Tweets

Super Bowl hype has become almost formulaic over the years. In the weeks leading up to the actual game, many marketers release their TV spots in increments online for everyone to get an early look. Then there’s the game, which always has an exhilarating halftime show. The commercials are discussed ad nauseum for days afterward. It’s clear the formula is working. This year the Bowl didn’t break its own record, but still reached the 100 million viewer threshold. The only real variable is the game itself, which was another exciting finish featuring the extremely rare voluntary safety play.

When the lights went out in the third quarter,  we reached uncharted territory; the largest event of the year was put on hold due to a power outage, and the networks, players, fans in the stands and the viewing audience were scratching our heads. Some ads like Bud Light’s Lucky Chair were run again to fill the gap. Many took to social networks.

My personal Twitter feed was full of jokes – the most common being Bane / The Dark Knight Rises references, Beyonce’s “second” performance, and crude Ray Lewis jokes – but the tweets that stood out the most were from brands.

oreo tweet

Oreo stole the show by following the brand’s “Whisper Fight” spot with a tweet that perfectly inserted their product into the immediate chaos of the blackout.  Other kudos go to Audi, PBS, and Tide. I’ll even give credit to Calvin Klein, though that Vine was for a different target audience than the one I belong to, but I digress.

While massive marketing events like the Super Bowl seem so planned out from every possible angle, the lesson learned – for PR professionals, advertisers, social media gurus, and others, is to always be ready to make the most of the unexpected and quickly adapt to the unknown. Of course,  that is much easier said than done but these brands showed us it’s possible, and can help change brand perception with just 140 characters and a mouse click.

Let the countdown for Super Bowl XLVIII begin. We hope MetLife Stadium in New Jersey can withstand the high power consumption that the Super Bowl demands.

Super Bowl: A Game of HORSE and the Pre-Game Debate

Twenty years ago, as a young PR buck, I was tasked with creating a strategy to help McDonald’s leverage its Super Bowl XXVII “Nothing But Net” spot.  I knew we had PR gold in our hands when the storyboards included Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in a game of HORSE. Slam dunk!

What wasn’t a slam dunk at the time was my idea: invite select media on-set (Entertainment Tonight, ESPN, a few others) to capture interviews with Jordan, Bird, director Joe Pytka and behind-the-scenes footage for segments that would air BEFORE the game to build anticipation and consumer engagement.

The heated debates at the Golden Arches over a concept that seemed heretical at the time were unforgettable. But, we hit pay dirt that year with phenomenal pre-game PR and a USA Today Ad Meter victory. It arguably kick-started what today is considered the first page of the Super Bowl Commercial PR Playbook.  In fact, now NOT finding ways to gain exposure for a brand’s Super Bowl spot before the game is considered heretical.

Stuart Elliott did a deep dive on the subject in The New York Times this week that’s worth reading…

DGC Video Bowl: #TeamBeatz vs #TeamWinning

The Super Bowl brings people together in celebration: It’s a celebration of football, a celebration of friends, and a celebration of the best campaigns in advertising. While DGC won’t have its own spot in the game, we didn’t want to be left out of the fun.

 This year, we put our own spin on the Super Bowl rivalry…

 Two teams, one simple brief: show the world what makes DGC so awesome. Our collaboration, our team spirit, and, yes, at times even our zaniness. Each video was made with an impossibly tight deadline, zero budget, a lot of love and collaboration, and a late night of laughter.  Enjoy…. view, and “Like”!  There’s a bagel breakfast hanging in the balance.

Team 1: #TeamBeatz

What is it about DiGennaro Communications (DGC) that makes working there so awesome? DGC’ers Megan and Michael ponder that very question in this video made with love and collaboration by #TeamBeatz, one of two DGC teams whose goal in our 2013 internal contest was to highlight our special team spirit.

Team 2: #TeamWinning

In this video made with love and collaboration, #TeamWinning shares what makes DGC great by channeling inspiring Super Bowl Halftime Show performances from years past and present!

 May the best team win. Who knows? We may even end up being the next viral sensation.

Does Mercedes Benz Need ‘Sympathy?’

Even if you weren’t paying attention to NFL football on Jan. 20, if you had the game on, Merkley + Partners’  TV spot for long-time client Mercedes Benz likely made your head snap to attention.

Image

In what is being called a teaser for the automaker’s Super Bowl spot in February, the ad plays the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil.”  Although the spot is beautifully produced and has a perfectly suspenseful set-up, the use of that song is curious to say the least.  A rock ‘n’ roll classic, yes, but a lighthearted little ditty? Absolutely not. And how could it be when “Lucifer” is the first-person narrator?

Why would Mercedes Benz or any brand want to be associated with the following imagery?

I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank 

Or this:

I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me

None of those lyrics actually plays in the Mercedes spot but consumers can finish the song in their heads once Mick Jagger’s familiar yowl is heard at the beginning of the song.

In an eerily prescient article back in November, Brenda Fiala, SVP, Strategy at Blast Radius, wrote in Mediapost about how the Rolling Stones “brand” has become downright respectable now that they’ve been a band for 50 years. “Let’s face it: The Rolling Stones aren’t just a band, they’re a brand in the same pantheon as Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz and Chanel.”

The question is, how respectable is Mercedes Benz now that it has appropriated one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most notorious songs?

Scandal is just a Brand Opportunity in Sheep’s Clothing

M.I.A.’s Super Bowl finger flip may be old news now, but we thought the topic was relevant considering our recent post on crisis communications.

Arnell Group CEO, Sara Arnell, explains how scandals like this can actually be great branding opportunities – and how companies can effectively take advantage of set-backs to grow positive awareness.

Read more on Fast Company

%d bloggers like this: