Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Communication lessons learned from a bold Super Bowl ad

By: Noelle Cutler, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
Every year, over a hundred million viewers tune in to the Super Bowl. And every year, advertisers pay millions to grab the attention of those viewers; inevitably some commercials try bolder techniques than others in order to accomplish that. This year, one advertisement that garnered a lion’s share of attention was 84 Lumber and their story of a Mexican mother and daughter on a journey to emigrate to America. The storyline was a bold choice given the current political and national debate over immigration. This bold communication choice certainly attracted attention and got people talking. If you’re considering going bold in your own communication efforts, consider these three major caveats we learned from the results of 84 Lumber’s commercial. 

  1. Be bold…but only if you’re ready for backlash. A spokesperson for the ad agency that created the commercial said that about half of the feedback was positive and the other half was critical. The company was actually expecting that level of criticism, but were willing to accept that because they thought the issue was important enough. It’s also important to note that the company sells building supplies to mom-and-pop and midsize local contractors, and many of them are first generation immigrants to the United States. So, perhaps they were willing to deal with criticism from half of the viewers if the other half who reacted positively were actual potential customers. In your communications, always understand that the bolder and riskier you are, while you may gain very loyal customers, you’re also likely to alienate the people on the other side of the spectrum. 
  2. Be bold…but only if you’re prepared for the volume of feedback. Within minutes of the commercial airing, there were 600,000 hits to 84 Lumber’s website. A total of six million people tried to watch the full length commercial available exclusively on their website in the first hour after it aired. Their overwhelmed website crashed, leaving visitors (and potential customers) in the dust. They weren’t ready to handle the volume of people who were interested in their commercial. With bold communication choices, not only do you have to be ready to handle the nature of the feedback, you also have to be ready to handle the amount of feedback. 
  3. Be bold…but only if it doesn’t take away from your business. While the commercial itself was a memorable one, how many of the viewers remembered the company’s name? How many of those viewers remembered them in a positive light? And then how many of those viewers would actually buy their product or use their service? People were talking about the commercial, but the political message overshadowed their actual “product.” It’s worth noting that being bold can simultaneously draw attention towards your brand but away from your actual product.

Whether you watch the Super Bowl for the winning team or the winning commercials, there’s a lot to be gleaned from this year’s slew of advertisements. Consider these lessons from 84 Lumber before you risk being bold in your communication efforts.

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