I’ve been covering Super Bowl for years and seen how advertisers have embraced purposeful messages or good-vertising like bees around a honeypot. Money talks. If you’re willing to go deep into your pockets and take the public stage for Super Bowl, you better have something more on heart than “Look at how good we are,” “I understand” or “America is great.”
The pandemic cannot be ignored as we all know someone who’s been sick, or lost a loved one or is facing economic uncertainty. But what’s the right response? This year, however, your message might come off as a toilet paper-throwing president. Ask yourself if your contribution or your message deserves the attention? Frankly, I’m just tired of the giants of Corporate America playing saint at a time where their support is miniscule. Many Americans are pulling through and donating hard-earned dollars to initiatives like food banks, or volunteering time or effort to help out in the community. Here are four missteps to avoid.
Don’t hold the activist banner, turn people into activists
Yes, brand activism has been ripe during this Presidency; its turned into a shout fest by brands like Nike, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and a lot of less honorable examples. We live in such divided times, but we definitely don’t need another politician or ice cream company to tell us we’re wrong or right, but rather someone who can help us in our struggle to cope with the pandemic. People are no longer buying why you do what you do, but who you can help them become. Videos of Italians singing from their balcony show people want to take part. And we need people to take action, if we’re to solve anything from climate change, racial injustice or a ramping health crisis. That’s not happening by your brand shouting diversity, but by getting people to fight their own prejudices and biases. Values are important, but we need hands helping out in homeless shelters.
That’s not happening by your brand shouting “We are responsible!” Carlsberg wanted to support struggling bars and restaurants in Denmark hit by lockdown. The Adopt a Keg campaign asked Danes to scan their Carlsberg to fill up a virtual keg on the brand’s website. By June, 10,000 virtual kegs had been filled. Don’t shine a light on your own actions, but showcase how people can be part of the solution.
Don’t be a half-ass hero
We all know who the real heroes are; don’t pretend your brand is one of them. Or don’t think it’s enough to celebrate heroes, build them a podium or hold the mic for them. Help them go further. Put your brand’s ingenuity, capabilities and efforts into making a difference. There is no such thing as a half-ass hero. Yes, we should recognize the efforts of health care workers, first responders, teachers and the millions of other Americans doing their part but singing their praise from the sidelines count less than helping on the front lines.
Starling Bank went an extra length to support volunteers and those relying on community help by launching a Connected Card: a second debit card with a unique PIN and a spend limit of £200. Now, vulnerable people could get the help they needed without worrying—and more than 18,000 ordered the card.
Less brag, more bang
We’ve all seen the commercials that are more brag than bang. Take Hyundai’s Hope Detector from two years ago. According to its own “Hope on Wheels” website, they raised $11 million, but think about the ad spend and production costs. I so often hear that actions speak louder than words and yes, that can be true, but then let me see more real impact, more bang. Hand sanitizers are nice, but is it enough?