#11 – Which Super Bowl ads were Reputation Rainmakers & which where Reputation Roadkill?
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What else could we possibly talk about other than the Super Bowl?
Each week, we’ll take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:
- Erin Jones of Social Ink is back with me this week!
- We breakdown the reputation hits and the misses of the 2017 Super Bowl 51.
If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.
Transcript (forgive us for any typos):
Andy Beal: We are back with another episode. I have good news. Erin is feeling better this week, aren’t you Erin?
Erin Jones: I am. I am here.
Andy Beal: That’s good, because last week I found it was really hard to fill 20 minutes just on my own. Hopefully we got a lot to talk about this week. As everybody knows, this is first episode after the Super Bowl.
Everybody’s talking about the Super Bowl itself and the TV commercials, which I think we’ll get to, because you’re probably expecting us to comment on the success, or the mistakes of the Super Bowl commercials. I thought we’d start off with the game itself. I’m assuming you got to watch the entire game.
Erin Jones: I watched most of it. I do have to offer a little bit of a disclaimer. I am a Denver fan, so I still had a little bit of sour grapes from the last time we saw New England at the Super Bowl. I was trying really hard to have a positive attitude about this game. I went into it a little bit irritable.
Andy Beal: You know what’s interesting is leading up to the game, we really saw the sentiment divide for the New England Patriots. The Patriots, despite all of the scandals they’ve gone through over the last number of years, A, are still a phenomenal football team. They can get the players that they want and the fans are still supporting them.
It’s a case that their brand is weird. It’s one of those brands, reminds me …. I watch a lot of college football. It reminds me of Notre Dame. That is you’ve got this brand where the fans really, really love the Patriots. If you’re not a fan, you’re pulling for anybody that’s playing the Patriots.
Erin Jones: Agreed.
Andy Beal: It was interesting to see the setup for that, that the Patriots have done just a phenomenal job of just building this brand that their fans love and doesn’t seem matter what they do.
It goes back to some conversations we’ve had in the past where you really have to build a brand that your fans are really loyal to and will stand behind, so that if you have an inflate gate, or a deflate gate, whatever it is, controversy, they’re still there with you.
It also suggests that you don’t necessarily have to have a brand that everybody loves. There are plenty of people that don’t love the Patriots.
Erin Jones: Agreed. I think people actually love to not love the Patriots. I think that’s almost its own market in itself. Haters will watch just to hate on them. I don’t think that’s hurting the Patriots. I think that they’re filling seats. They’re getting eyeballs on the TV. They don’t seem to be any worse for the wear for it.
Andy Beal: Yeah, they were playing that evil villain role. I admit I was pulling for them to lose basically. I didn’t really care who won. I just didn’t really want the Patriots to win. Boy, did it make for a game that we all talked about on Monday. Not only did they overcome one of the biggest deficits in Super Bowl history, but it was also the first overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Erin Jones: It was a great game. I was a lot more excited at the beginning than I was at the end. It was definitely neat to witness history.
Andy Beal: Yeah. I think that this is why we watch the Super Bowl is we know we’re going to get two great teams. There’s going to be a good match up and hopefully won’t be a snoozer.
I did feel like snoozing in the first half. The second half definitely created something that we could talk about.
Another reason a lot of us watched the game is for the commercials. Let’s get to the commercials because I admit that pretty much I will take a bathroom break, or go get some more snacks when it’s a quiet part of the game, as opposed to running out during the commercials like I would do any other game.
Erin Jones: I am the same way. As a self-admitted marketing geek, the commercials, I think, probably hold a more dear spot in my heart even than for most people.
Andy Beal: I think that part of the appeal of the Super Bowl is that we’ve come to love being entertained by the commercials. We’re watching the Super Bowl and the commercials, because it’s a chance to maybe suspend reality and have a good time with friends, be entertained. The game entertains us, but then the commercials entertain us as well.
I think, in the past, the Super Bowl ads have done a really good job of that. We all look forward to our favorite brand, because we know that they will come up with something crazy, or funny, or maybe a tearjerker, which we’ve seen in the past. This year we had some really strange ones. Which one stands out to you as the most bizarre?
Erin Jones: The most bizarre, that’s a really good question. I was really, at first, excited to see the ads and ended up a little bit disappointed. I think that the Mr. Clean ad was probably what stood out as the most bizarre for me.
Andy Beal: It was a little bit pervey.
Erin Jones: It was just odd. I don’t think that cartoon they used was attractive. I don’t know why they used a cartoon in the first place. There are plenty of attractive actors that could have made that seem a little bit less just bizarre.
Andy Beal: Mm-hmm (affirmative). The T Mobile one, for me, where it was a play on 50 Shades of Grey and then all of the torture and whatever it was they were going for was the fees, and taxes, and hidden charges from Verizon, which was just strange. Maybe that was their intent, because it certainly got us talking about it. Which one do you think was a home run? Which was your favorite?
Erin Jones: My favorite, I would say I thought that the Kia ad was really cute. I really, really liked the Mercedes ad. I’m going to say I’m hanging in there with the car companies this year.
Andy Beal: I really think Kia did a good job. We’ll come on to some of the other messaging ads, statements about whatever it is, the environment that other people were running. Kia did a good job because it was funny and at the same time they got their eco message out there as well. They promoted the car as a car that you could take anywhere.
It was funny, because you had Melissa McCarthy in it doing crazy things, getting attacked by killer whales, and rhinos, and all that kind of stuff. They still had a little bit of room to spread an environmental message in there.
Erin Jones: It was cute. I tend to lean more towards the lighthearted and funny ads than the really heavy ads. I liked that about it.
Andy Beal: Yeah, and again, they tied it back to what Kia does, which is we make this really cool car that is great for adventure and getting out there. Whereas, you’ve got let’s go to another car commercial, where I think perhaps you could argue has the biggest backlash was Audi cars.
Their statement, they themselves were trying to make a statement about equality and women’s pay, but, for me, that missed the mark. Certainly you’re seeing a lot of backlash, because it really didn’t tie into anything that we know about Audi.
Erin Jones: That and it might be a good message, but I don’t know that it was the right venue to project the message. One thing about the Super Bowl is that typically I’m sitting there with my children, with my family. I really like the ads that I’m not explaining to a first grader about things that are going wrong in the world. I like it to be a day off, of fun, and lightheartedness.
Andy Beal: That’s a really good point.
Erin Jones: I have mixed feelings about it. I have a daughter. Some of the stuff is really important to me, but I don’t know that it was the right time. I definitely don’t know that I agree that Audi was the company to deliver that message. Like you said, aside from them hopping in an Audi at the end of the commercial, I don’t see what that did for them as a brand.
Andy Beal: The backlash ensued. People are pointing out to them that there are no females on the Audi’s board, on the executive board, not a single woman. Among their executives, only two out of 14 are women.
If you’re going to take that stance, if you’re going to make that the hill that you want to die on, you need to check at home first and make sure that you have that equality in your own company.
Otherwise, people are just going to call you a hypocrite. They’re going to pick holes in your message and suggest that you’re just trying to make a statement for the sake of being the cool kid that makes a statement on a social issue.
Erin Jones: That’s exactly what this looks like. I doubt that typically when something like this happens, we say that it’s a great opportunity for the company to get some positive publicity by making right on the issue. I don’t see any board members giving up their seat, so that they can have more women on the board.
Andy Beal: I think now they’ve got this backlash, they’re probably going to be looking at how they can maybe more than just a token gesture such as that, but how they can demonstrate that, “Hey, look. We have planted the Audi flag on this social issue hill. This is what we’re going to do going forward. This is part of a campaign and our effort to raise awareness of this issue. This is what we are going to do to lead the way.”
If they can do that, maybe they can tie it all up in a nice bow and actually stand for this, as opposed to just spending a lot of money on a statement, and trying to get some buzz, which they’ve got, but not necessarily positive buzz.
Erin Jones: Agreed. The other thing about this commercial is it was very dark and gritty. I don’t know if I were a luxury car manufacturer that I would want that kind of image associated with my brand subconsciously. That was another thing that caught my attention.
Andy Beal: It goes back to the Mercedes ad, which had a little bit of grittiness to it in the way they handled it. It wasn’t a political statement. It was, “Hey, we’re more than the car that the retiree buys when they’re successful.”
It’s like, “Hey, we can be up there with the cool bikers. We got a status symbol here, a really great car that is going to make you feel cool. Others are going to respect you. You’re going to be in that kind of club.” They went with something that actually evoked the emotions that you would expect a car company to evoke.
Erin Jones: Agreed and they used humor; just the interactions with the people. They took these big, burley bikers and they were just a little bit silly enough so that you weren’t uncomfortable watching it. It was fun to watch. It was fun to see the story unfold.
Andy Beal: Yeah, yeah. Speaking of uncomfortable, we have to talk about that 84 Lumber ad, which if you just watched the one that aired during the Super Bowl and you didn’t click to the site to watch the full ad, you would definitely feel that it was very ambiguous in trying to figure out what the message was that they were trying to get across. Even so, I had never heard of 84 Lumber before. This was a really strange introduction to the brand.
Erin Jones: I agree. It sounds like they put one thing forward with the ad and then if you read into it further, they were taking a different stance than what they were showing in the ad. I’m a little bit confused on the message. I’m not really sure that anybody feels good about taking a side not knowing which direction things are going.
Andy Beal: The CEO, I think it is, has actually come out and explained that they are in favor of a wall and better controls on immigration. That wasn’t necessarily the intent of the ad. They’re not even really picking a side and sticking to it. They’re trying to, pardon the pun, sit on the fence and appeal to both sides.
If you actually look at the ad, it really does tend to have a message of maybe, “Hey, we’re okay with illegal immigration.” If you watch the version online and see how it ends, maybe they’re suggesting otherwise.
The key thing is you’re a lumber company. This is not going to increase the amount of lumber that you’re going to sell. In fact, I saw one person on Twitter say, “I don’t buy wood of any kind, but I may go buy a plank just to support 84 Lumber.”
You have to ask yourself, “You’re not the target audience.” I think 84 Lumber could have done a much better job and maybe raised as much awareness to whatever issue it is that they were trying to raise.
Let’s assume that hey, there’s a place in America for everybody that enters legally and we’re a country immigrants, da, da, da. They could’ve maybe shown the diversity in their company, shown their employees at work, and shown the diversity that they are personally trying to spread with their hiring practices and how they’re growing.
Erin Jones: [Inaudible 00:15:46]. The whole thing was just off putting to me. I think they could’ve done a lot of neat things, like you said and maybe not been so polarizing.
Andy Beal: Yeah. All right. Let’s move on to …. I think we talked that one to death. I think depending on where you are, you may have a different view. Leave a comment and let us know what you think. I want to finish up with the one that was a surprise ad for me. That was Budweiser.
Again, Budweiser found itself the victim of a …. It’s a social media boycott. We don’t necessarily know how much of a boycott it actually is. Anybody can put up a hashtag. Their ads, people are saying was designed to attack President Trump’s policies on immigration. Regardless of what you think of that, my biggest disappointment, there was no Clydesdales this year.
Erin Jones: Yes. I feel like Budweiser is one of the few companies that I personally am comfortable with putting out tearjerker ads every year. Last year they had the cute little yellow lab puppy with the Clydesdale horses. I personally love those ads. I’m okay with those in the mix of all …. I said I like comedy and lightheartedness, but they’re one of the few companies that I feel like usually nails it and gets it right. This year, while I think it’s a good story, it’s another case of was that the right venue? I don’t know.
Andy Beal: Right. I’m hoping that this is a blip. I’m hoping that we’ve had a ridiculous political season. A lot of people are frustrated on both sides of the political spectrum. Maybe this is just a blip and everybody got it out of their system.
What I feel is the Super Bowl commercials are a huge success, because of the history that’s involved with Super Bowl commercials. That is it will bring out their best creative …. It’s usually funny. It’s usually entertaining, or maybe a tearjerker, or just warms your heart.
I think if the trend becomes something that’s very political, or a lot of social commentary, which we’re all getting bombarded with, 24/7, I think they’re going to lose that right to have me cross my legs and watch the TV commercials as opposed to taking a bathroom break.
Erin Jones: I completely agree. I think we’re already experiencing political burnout in this country. This was just a bad move for a lot of companies.
Andy Beal: Yeah. All right. Let us know what you think. Head to our Facebook page, Andy Beal, ORM, or on this podcast post, just leave a comment.
Which ads did you like? Which do you think were a home run? Which missed the mark? We’d love to hear your feedback. We’ll be back again next week.
Erin, I know you’re still recovering, so I really appreciate you being on the show with me this week.
Erin Jones: Thank you so much for having me.
Andy Beal: Hope you feel much, much better over the coming days.
Erin Jones: Thank you.
Andy Beal: Thank you guys for tuning in. We’ll catch you next week. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.