How Not to Fail in a Super Bowl Ad

super bowl ad

Ads Can Only Get You So Far

Do you remember the ad for Mophie from a few Super Bowls back? Neither do I. What I do recall is a small, private company spending what seemed like a crazy amount – around $5M – on a Super Bowl ad. And while Mophie is still chugging along, it certainly isn’t conquering the world.

Interestingly though, the mistake they made wasn’t spending too much on the ad. In fact, the 1-minute spot allowed the brand to reach hundreds of millions of potential buyers. The error they made was spending that kind of money on advertising when they hadn’t yet built and honed their brand to warrant it. The commercial gave them 10 seconds of fame, rather than reinforcing the brand and propelling it forward.

Building Brand

Some companies are a lot smarter about brand building.

Driving on the highway the other day, I saw an example of a company that’s taken the opposite approach: Lyft. A billboard they put up next to their headquarters along Northbound Highway 101 states this:

Thanks to

the aspiring architects,

the caretakers

the overachievers.

We know you’re

more than drivers.

So no matter what

you’re driving toward, we’ll help

you get there.

It matters how you get there.

Lyft has decided that the partnership they forge with drivers will distinguish them from their competition. Lyft doesn’t just exist to make money from passengers, it also provides a convenient and flexible way for people to earn money to support their needs and wants. By calling out “caretakers”, “aspiring architects” and “overachievers”, Lyft reinforces their beliefs that their drivers are not a homogenous group and have different goals. When I looked up their values on the Lyft website, I wasn’t at all surprised to see “Drive toward what matters,” followed by this explanation: “Wherever you’re going, we’ll help you get there — and will be here as long as you need us.” It’s not a “you work for us” relationship.

Lyft’s advertisements reinforce and propel the brand forward – and we the brand it working. Lyft continues to invest in their brand because the payoff is huge.

Not Just B2C

These are, of course, consumer examples — I chose them because you may be familiar with the companies. The same rules, however, hold true for B2B brands. You might not put up billboards but you probably do some demand gen marketing, right?

Your demand gen campaign has to reflect your brand. If your prospects have had at least some exposure to your brand, they should be able to immediately make a connection between the emails you send them and what they already know of your brand. It should just “fit”. If they don’t know your brand, what you tell them in your demand gen collateral should give an inkling of what you are about, not just describe your new software release.

So before you start advertising, launch an email campaign, or cement your sales strategy, do some work on your brand. If you don’t, all that investment you make may be a big, ‘ol Mophie waste of money.  

Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design firm.

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