Super Bowl is coming. We may watch many adverts that are influenced by the surprising results of presidential elections. We may see & hear brave messages about unity, diversity, patriotism, freedom… anything that would make USA citizens remember their shared (?) values. It would be such an opportunity for brands to demonstrate a bold attitude after such a polarising period of time and make a manifestation of optimism. But I expect more cowardice or confusion than bravery. Here is why:
The advertising industry and –in general- marketing professionals belong to an upper class. They have a different perspective of seeing things, remember Maslow’s hierarchy, they realities change as well as their priorities as they climb the ladder of wealth. Though common people have less interest in collateral damage as long as they are promised an instant gratification; common people do not enjoy abstract thinking, but chicken wings –if they can choose; they are not motivated by an egalitarian utopia because even the children know that is not possible, but they can be motivated with a dystopia, because… well… they just do not want anything to go worse.
What was Hillary’s campaign slogan? Do you remember it? But you know Trump’s. And he did not advertise as much as Hillary did. So what did Hillary tell all these people? “Don’t vote for Trump” … “So? He will at least build a wall, what about you, madam?”…
Droga5 was the lead agency for Hillary. They may be the best team in this world. But they failed to deliver something that common people would appreciate. Unbelievable. So who are the audience of these best-in-class ad agencies anyways if they are not common people?
I believe that ad industry is still in a tremendous shock and they resist to face the fact that they are so distanced from the real life. It is a total alienation they are going through. So they must feel that the whole world is off track and the morals they have are irrelevant now. So even if they want to design something controversial, debatable, brave… It will be off. Think about the “opportunistic” adverts before the elections.
On the other hand, that night is such an opportunity, the advertisers will not let their agencies give up and regress. This makes me expect to see lots of confusion on screen though. Because there was so little time after the elections to make a drastic move and design a good piece of communication about such a delicate issue. No brand has the guts to openly oppose Trump, not anymore. So they will be pushing agencies to be bold but reasonable. Which is an oxymoron. And since the agencies are still in a traumatic stage, numb; they would not push back but try to do deliver that “reasonable” creativity which would feel like ships passing in the night. We ‘ll see…
Think about it, even the 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad had created a huge negative buzz in Obama’s USA, what would happen if someone comes up with a similar idea?
Or let’s be more “reasonable”: think about Budweiser’s failing summer campaign: America. What would it be like if they aired it now?
Let’s be more “reasonable”… Although I loved this Ben&Jerry’s “One Sweet World” ad above, I know that it would be invisible for many people and would be such a waste of money to be used on Super Bowl.
So it is a very thin line. There are four obvious possibilities:
1. If you succeed with a cultural message: you’d be talked, appraised, loved…. and make history. Remember Chrysler – Clint Eastwood’s Halftime?
2. If you fail to unify but succeed to create a buzz: Some will hate you, some will support you. You have to focus on your strategy and deside which group’s loyalty matters to you. You do not need to run away from “hate” if that hate of detactors/rejectors would elevate the love of your ambassadors.
3. If you fail to be heard: It is Super Bowl dude! You cannot just waste that money. Please!
4. If you play safe but entertain: I expect most of the brands to have celebrities, animals, babies, jingles… But nothing that is political. And it is “reasonable” since they are not ready to make a stance and and/or remind people a past event. So why bother! Yolo!
Though, I feel very optimistic about Lady Gaga’s Halftime show! I suppose she’d use this precious time to give a very bold message to US citizens. And I am sure that she will make it relevant! For the very first time of my life, I’d rather skip the ads but see the show. If it is reasonable.
UPDATE (Feb, 17): A political overlook to Superbowl is here, and here is AdAge’s analysis about boycotts against Budweiser & Coca-Cola… My learning is: all around the world, an era of “mediocracy’s revenge against arrogance” has began. So if you need to sell anything to lower-mediocre people, you’d rather be on their “over-populated” side against a high-culture / values / intellect. Otherwise, as Erdogan said once: “Bitaraf olan bertaraf olur” (If you do not take a side, you’d be aside). If you have values to stop you being a hypocrite, you’d rather join forces to ease the anger of the mediocracy before it is too late. Remember French Revolution?