The Super Bowl and NFL season has gone into hibernation once again and we’re left with watching, in my opinion, a very disappointing array of continuing Super Bowl commercials. There were two commercials that really stood out this year in completely different ways. Before we look at them specifically, lets take a quick look at branding.
The idea of branding continues to mystify even the the companies with multi-million dollar ad budgets. In todays marketplace, brands rely on being funny or quirky with regard to how they create their brand communication. It’s a successful tactic in getting noticed, but how do you stay funny – all the time? Even Kevin Heart tells bad Jokes.
When we look long-term, in these times, there comes a point where your brand has to communicate a deeper set of values – brand purpose. If what you say has to align with what you do, then harnessing your entire brand ecosphere becomes a precious strategy that must be executed with careful decision making.
Or not, if you’re Go Daddy.
Go Daddy, who usually has some pretty cool commercials, took a very heart warming concept and made it one of heartbreak. The commercial had all the makings of a heart tugging storyline of lost and found.
But did that happen?
Yes initially, but ultimately NO!
If you happened to have missed it (because it was pulled immediately –rightfully so) the story was about a puppy who had accidently got thrown from its owner’s truck and had to endure some challenging times to be reunited with its owner. The puppy finally makes its way back to the owner who says, “ I’m so glad you made it home because I just sold you on this website I built by Go Daddy.”
That’s just like Nike saying, “Just Don’t Do it,” or Apple saying, “Think Like Everyone Else.”
It’s Anti-branding, and leaves a scar on your brand that will take a long time to heal.
Good Story, Terrible Ending
They took a potentially great storyline, which 99% of it was great, and spoiled it at the end by not understanding how the marketplace really feels about puppies – adorable, cute and cuddly family members.
Not only was it a $4mill mistake (cost of the ad), but a right hook to the rib cage of Go Daddy’s brand.
Brand messaging counts a great deal, and if you don’t protect it at all costs, your brand equity takes a hit – and they didn’t protect theirs. They basically hung their brand over a hungry den of lions – when they didn’t have to.
Brand stories are important because they capture the human essence of what a business stands for. If the human expression of your brand thinks there’s a funny side to puppy mills, you have been asleep for sometime now, or you believe there’s a funny side to everything. That’s a costly gamble.
Budweiser’s commercial has a puppy as its star as well. They decided not risk their brand equity, but instead they created a story that transcended their brand.
If you remember, this was their second installment of the initial commercial they ran during the 2014 Super Bowl where a puppy and horse befriend one another. In this installment the puppy escapes the stable and ends up on an adventurous journey back home. The plot thickens when the puppy is cornered by a wolf (hearts pounding), but the horse along with others come to the rescue of the puppy and is finally reunited with his owner.
Maybe so, but humans can relate to that situation thus creating branded value statement(s);
Your brand can’t lose when you hit all of these emotional strings in a one minute commercial spot.
Budweiser’s brand was not only enhanced by this brand storytelling – because of the millions of views, but deepened its brand purpose and ideals with the general populous.
What your brands says matters, but more important is understanding your marketplace and how they feel about certain things. As we have witnessed, funny works, but context is what makes it work. Budweiser understood this. Go Daddy understood this to a point but failed in execution.
Protect and nurture everything about your brand. The more you protect it, the more people will respect you for it. Don’t gamble with your brand – make sure you not only understand the purpose of your message but its context.
Stay Hungry, Hustle Hard!