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15 Feb 2017

MarCom Mumblings: Brand on a Mission

I’ll be honest. I’m not a football fan. To me, the Super Bowl was about a live Lady Gaga concert (which slayed BTW) and the ads. There are high expectations. Each 30-second spot costs an estimated $5-5.5 million—an unfathomable amount of money. For that big of an investment, I guessing you really want your spot to make a statement. You need something that will get shared online the day after the big game and that people will talk about.

This year, funny wasn’t enough. The biggest, most talked about ads were ones with a social message. There was Audi’s take on gender equality and equal pay. Budweiser ended up with a very timely ad, even thought it was filmed months in advance.  Airbnb went with #weaccept, which was very intentional as the brand has been firm in taking a stance.

One ad I saw shared a ton was the 84 Lumber ad, which was deemed too controversial to be aired in its entirety. But very quickly people realized there was a social message, just not the one they thought.

I wondered, is this shift going to be permanent? Will brands and companies unapologetically state their public opinions? PR Week tackled this almost a year ago in fact, as we were headed deep into the election season. The author made the case that brands will (and should) have strong viewpoints.

"And why not? Voters only have a say about their elected officials every few years, but they’re in contact with some brands several times a day. Ask around, and I’ll bet many people could more easily pick a company that identifies with their values than a candidate for office,” he wrote.

Fair enough. People are being encouraged to vote with their wallets and demanding more from companies. *cough*Uber*cough*

However, brands need to be authentic about it. They can’t jump on the bandwagon because it seems like a marketing trend. Last week, SNL took note of the big, broad messages in advertising and skewered it with Cheetos. 




I think the takeaway is to think about what your brand stands for and what that means to your audience.

By Annie Gannon, MarCom Immediate Past President