Brands Drop the Ball on Game Day

super bowl stunts, top pr companies in chicago

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By: Katie Chrapla

Sunday marked that time of year again, where brands can either make it or break it during the most tuned in game on television- The Super bowl. With ad’s kicking off early, some of them ended up benched before game day. The method to the madness is as simple as this; the benefits need to outweigh the setbacks. Brands should be mindful when they go in for the “Hail Mary” they need to have a plan in place to offset that risky play.

Stunts and gimmicks that distract from the brand promise are just as damaging as bad ad executions during the game. Go Daddy’s pet commercial is one that can be viewed as going too far to capture the audience’s attention. Their spin off to the- oh so heartwarming Budweiser commercial flopped before kickoff even started. Funny as it may have been, it is too close to home with the very real issue of puppy mills, prompting backlash. CEO Blake Irving apologized saying, “We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl,” he said. “You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh”. While some speculated that it was all a stunt to garner additional press, Go Daddy has adamantly denied those claims. If it was a stunt, they may have wanted to poke fun at a less emotional issue for consumers. At the end of the day, they headed back to the drawing board to fill the thirty-second slot costing $4.5 million dollars just before game day.

Prior to the game, we saw a team the Seahawks catching heat over a Tweet during Martin Luther King weekend. The post was of a picture of Russell Wilsons and a quote from Dr. King, which many saw as linking winning a football game to the struggles of civil rights. The public’s excitement about football was definitely at a high point leading up to Sunday’s game. In all the buzz, the Seahawks forget to take a step back and think about the importance of the subject matter they are affiliating themselves with and how they were framing it.

With all these failed attempts to create brand-building buzz, there are a few PR lessons to be learned for future efforts. Step one, know your audience. The shock and awe that grabs consumers is only a win when the brand understands who they’re reaching out to. Step two, it is important to make an emotional connection to said target audience, making a connection results in lasting impressions. We saw emotional commercials dominate in this game. Lastly, have a plan for those riskier tactics. Know what you’re getting yourself into. Nothing sets up a crisis quite like not having any sort of plan B in play.