Remembering Superbowl LII (sorry Patriots fans) or at least the commercials

doritos blaze

It’s been one week since Superbowl LII, do you remember who won?  If you are a Patriots fan you have probably already forgotten, and Eagles fans will be riding this high for another fifty-seven years.  Being a Cleveland Browns fan, the only real hope of a Superbowl appearance these days is the team buying a spot during the game.  What’s on my mind and many advertisers this week is, can you recall your favorite commercial and what brand it was for?

I’m sure like the other 100+ million Americans, you joined friends and family last Sunday and prepared the necessary game day snacks, iced down the refreshments and got the house ready for the big game party.  Like the average viewing party host, you probably spent well over $80 in the process.  In fact, its estimated by the National Retail Federation that consumers would spend around $15.3B, yes, billion, on Superbowl activities this year.  That’s a big investment from consumers, but don’t worry because advertisers also coughed up a lot this year to make sure that you were entertained.

After seven days, I am sure that you remembered the Superbowl was clearly sponsored by Toyota.  Hopefully you enjoyed the commercials that ranged from financial services, automobiles and mobile technology to food and beverage as much as the game.  You may have even caught Justin Timberlake’s entertaining performance at halftime that was subtly sponsored by Pepsi.  This is what every brand manager that purchased a spot during the superbowl is having to explain this week to their leaders, did it work?

It’s hard to imagine to ridiculous amount of money that companies spend on this single day to make sure that their name was remembered.  With an average :30 spot cost of around $5M this year, it’s estimated that marketers spent over $410M for you to remember their products.  That’s a lot of cheddar and the real question is, was it worth it?  Did they make a lasting impression in the minds of the viewers?

Thinking back to Sunday, what were your top three commercials, and can you recall the brands they were associated with?

As a foodie and a researcher, I particularly paid attention to the commercials in the food and beverage space to identify some of the winners and losers fro last week.  I always start with the simple question of, did I remember their brand or not?  Did it move me emotionally or make me laugh and now will I go out and buy their product?

This is what we do as researchers, we analyze, we ask questions to try and measure this success through recall and click thru’s, but the real test that we don’t quantify is how did it make us feel?  Did the commercial motivate us to change behavior, think differently about a brand and why?  To me, it always comes down to understanding the “why” and not just measuring the what.

Of the many commercials that were shown Sunday night, some left emotional tugs at my heart and some simply left a tickle in my side.  It has been proven that when commercials produce some bit of laughter, they have a higher threshold for recall, but do they make a bigger impact?  Does laughter make us dig deeper into our psyche for recall than sorrow, joy or fear?  Does it go deep enough to make us change our behaviors and how many layers of connection are needed with the viewer to make your message stand out?

In my opinion, today’s consumers in this multi-media driven world are not just looking for a simple commercial anymore, they are looking for a fully integrated campaign that takes them away from the TV and creeps into their personal lives.  Today’s campaigns need to create layers and experiences, not just laughter.  The more that you can connect with the consumer emotionally, visually, personally and interact with them, the higher success you will have at generating recall and potential for future sales.  They won’t just remember the commercial, but the experience it created.

Scanning the field of commercials this year, I felt like the best example of this layering or multi-channel experience was the PepsiCo cross promotion between Mountain Dew Ice and Doritos Blaze.  Not only did they create a memorable audio experience and visually stimulating set of commercials featuring two unique popular culture icons, but they did an excellent job of integrating this campaign into social media and beyond.  Doritos even generated additional buzz with the conspiracy theorists in the Game of Thrones world stating that this ad clearly confirms that Tyrion, is actually a Targaryen.

They creatively featured an interactive Snapchat filter that allowed you to go for either side – hot or cold.  In each of the areas of augmented reality they created a personalized experience that you could then share with your friends and family.  It gameified the commercial, turned it beyond the screen and made it a self-promoting platform.  I will be interested to see the results of how well this campaign worked in the days to come.

Campaigns also integrated hashtags and other ways to keep the commercial alive beyond the screen, but I was motivated by and even tried the snapchat filter that mysteriously disappeared from my view within hours after the game ended.  As I am not a SnapChatter, this was a serious investment of time and effort on my part.  I stared at the screen and it transformed my face into an icy wonderland or fiery wasteland based upon which way I moved my head.  I was transported to another place with the help of my friends at Doritos and Mt. Dew.  Well played Frito-Lay.

In conclusion, brands need to create an experience, not an ad.  Experience is everything these days and the more you can personalize it to the consumer you are trying to reach, the better.

This year, I specifically studied the numerous food and beverage commercials to try and answer the age-old question of “did I remember?”  I wanted to rank each commercial on the level of impact they left.  Now this was not a scientific study by any stretch of the imagination, but I judged them on engagement, impact, emotion and the overall message they delivered, either serious or comical.

Below is my ranking for each. You may agree or not agree with my rankings, but hopefully you at least remember each of these commercials, for the marketer’s sake.

14) Coke: The Wonder of Us – I liked the individuality and element of customization that this commercial portrayed, but it was just boring at a time where I am looking to be entertained or amazed. This campaign of individuality has been used for any years now and I look to Coke to be more creative.
13) Diet Coke with Mango – I couldn’t figure this one out and felt at times like I was way too old to be able to do so. Other than weird, it was another boring ad from Coke.
12) Budweiser Water – while emotional and nice, they’re not even American owned anymore so this one fell short in the end. I will not be picking up a twelve pack of Budweiser anytime soon.
11) Wendy’s – I get the point of fresh beef vs. frozen, but I still don’t see a lot of  difference when I am looking at your perfectly square patty. While it was witty, it wasn’t remarkable and while it’s fresh, it still looks processed.
10) Stella Atrois & Water.org – another commercial, while emotional, didn’t do much for me to go out and buy Stella, but it did raise awareness for Matt Damon’s water.org cause bringing it into the top ten.
9) Pepsi Generations – good usage of their old ad campaigns and creating that nostalgic impact that soda can have, targeting a younger generation that continues to reject it.
8) Michelob Ultra: I Like Beer – funny, but not worthy of a top five spot.
7) The Bud Knight – Dilly, Dilly. I did remember that, so it got across one point, but overall the set of ads didn’t do a lot to generate any real interest or excitement.  While funny, the ad is kind of played out so keep digging Bud Light.

6) Michelob Ultra: The Perfect Fit featuring Chris Pratt – this had entertainment value by featuring Chris Pratt, but didn’t live up to the hype of the media.  He played a funny role, but a bit predictable and I was expecting just a little more creativity.
5) M&M’s Featuring Danny DeVito – witty, funny and good usage of the perfect little round celebrity plug to put this one in the top five.  DeVito is always funny,  but the “do you want to eat me?”  This was a little creepy.
4) Jack in the Box Big (#JackvsMartha) – while the product they were promoting didn’t look very appealing, the confrontation made me laugh and the match up of Jack vs. Martha is a great plug to keep things moving in social media.  My money is on Martha as her time with Snoop Dogg in the hood will pay dividends in a street brawl.
3) Pringles WOW – funny execution, a bit hokey, but the ad made me think of Pringles in a whole new way of flavor layering.  Overall, great job of creating a multiple purchase opportunity with a particularly old and boring flavor portfolio.
2) Doritos Blaze (#spitfire) vs. Mtn. Dew Ice (#icecold) – like I mentioned earlier, a great example of tying multiple connection points with the consumer, but as far as the overall ad goes, it was well done, but didn’t quite have that final ingredient to make it #1.
1) Avocado’s from Mexico (#guacworld) – This was a very funny way to get across a simple point, avocados don’t only go on chips.  As one of the favorite dishes for most Super Bowl parties, guacamole surely got a lot of buzz off this nicely done ad. This is one that will be replayed many times as we continue to strive as humans towards the idea of a perfect, utopian society. Just make sure wifi works.

12 Things To Do With All Of Those Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Photo Credit: Wholefoods.com

It’s that time of the year again.  Cold mornings, apple cider, haunted houses, hay rides and the best of all, carving pumpkins.  I love to sit down with the family and try to avoid cutting off a finger each year.  Designing, creating and carving is always a tradition that I look forward to, but the best part of carving process is collecting the seeds.

My youngest daughter Cate loves Halloween.  It’s her favorite holiday and we typically try to cram as much into the month as possible.  We soak up every opportunity to dress up, decorate the house with spooky stuff and get scared.  We eat everything pumpkin from pancakes to cookies and I personally try to sample as many pumpkin beers as possible.  However, as most of you are probably aware, the amount of pumpkin flavored products has gotten out of control.  There is pumpkin flavored everything.  I have seen everything this season from pumpkin vodka and lasagna to toothpaste and breath fresheners. Nothing says clean and fresh like pumpkin.  As you would figure this has led to many products hitting the marketplace that just simply taste bad.  It is proof that some things should just not include a pumpkin flavor and I ask one thing, please stop.

Now I can get back to the purpose of this blog post, pumpkin seeds.  The rewarding thing about eating these delicious treasures is not just the nutritional benefits,  but the hard work you have to put into getting them ready.  First,  you need to scoop out the guts, then separate, then wash, then dry, then bake, then season and finally you get to eat them.  This process is not only time consuming, but annoying and disgusting to most.  I have one daughter, Ava, who hates to dig out the guts and one that loves to dig them out.  Each participate in the process, but they both share the love and appreciation of all that hard work while they’re eating them.

It’s our family tradition and a Halloween ritual like most Americans to carve pumpkins together, make the seeds and enjoy them during those cold fall evenings with a hot cup of tea, coffee, cider or chocolate.  Being a foodie family and getting bored with the traditional salt & pepper seasoning, we have over the past few years gotten creative in how we flavor them.  Last year was Madras curry, spicy cilantro-lime and cinnamon and sugar.  This year was adjusting the recipe and using coconut and avocado oil instead of olive oil.  Whatever your palette desires, I wanted to take it to the next level this year and provide a number of other ways to prepare pumpkin seeds that went beyond simply baking.  Take a look at these sweet and savory ideas and enjoy them this season, like we plan to do.

Happy Haunting.

Sweet Treats

pumpkin brittlepumpkin seed granola

  1. Pumpkin seed brittle from Bon Appetit – http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pumpkin-seed-brittle
  2. Caramelized pumpkin seeds from the Foodnetwork – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sandra-lee/caramelized-pumpkin-seeds-recipe.html
  3. Nut-free, grain-free pumpkin seed granola via Detoxinista – http://detoxinista.com/2012/09/pumpkin-seed-granola-nut-free-grain-free/
  4. Apple-pumpkin seed oatmeal breakfast pie from Yummly – http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Baked-Apple-Pumpkin-Oatmeal-Breakfast-Pie-_Gluten-Free_-565969?columns=1&position=31%2F59
  5. Pumpkin brittle from Martha Stewart – http://www.marthastewart.com/340197/pumpkin-seed-brittle#No%20%28Pumpkin%29%20Guts%2C%20No%20Glory%3A%2012%20Snackable%20Pumpkin%20Seed%20Recipes%7C/274532/pumpkin-seed-recipes/@center/1006802/halloween-pumpkins%7C340197

Savory Eats

pumpkin seedspumpkin seed spinach

  1. Mexican macaroni and grilled corn with pumpkin seeds from Rachel Ray – http://www.rachaelray.com/recipes/mexican-macaroni-and-grilled-corn
  2. Vegan gluten-free pumpkin seed spinach crackers via Yummly – http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Raw-Pumpkin-Seed-Crackers-With-Spinach-_Vegan_-Raw_-Gluten-Free_-1275455?columns=1&position=3%2F59
  3. Baked pumpkin seeds done five different ways from Foodnetwork – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/reinvented-pumpkin-seeds-5-ways.html
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