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Op-Ed: Mobile First? No – The Trials and Tribulations of a Stoic Strategist

And let’s start the ball rolling once again with new monthly contributor, Simon Mathews, currently chief strategy officer at West Coast shop, Extractable, and who’ s also worked at the likes of Isobar as well as Molecular on the strategy side during his career. We think the headline explains it all, but not so sure if he’s striking a Zoolander or Hansel pose in this one. 

The pitch was going well. The large team of potential clients, spread two deep around their boardroom table, were engaged and clearly expressing their business needs. I was heading towards the climax of my section on our agency’s strategic approach. I ended my last slide with the crescendo of, “We build data-driven digital experiences,” ready to hand over to our Creative Director.

Scanning the room, a few people looked a little quizzical. The client’s web manager speaks up, “We are thinking of implementing a mobile-first strategy. What do you think?”

Of course, I knew what they meant by ‘mobile first’. They meant that their current mobile experience was poor, and that they think mobile is important to their future. However, from our analysis their desktop, social and mobile were all poor experiences and there was an opportunity to dramatically improve the experience, and outcomes, for their users across any device.

My inner dialog kicked in. The following is what I probably should have shared out loud, but as they say, discretion is the better part of valor.

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Adidas Plays Hare in NFL Turtle Race

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The NFL Scouting Combine is a lot like speed dating—appearances trump substance. Executives make snap judgments about prospects. Players are valued by physical measurements and statistics. The fastest football players are like the most attractive girls at a bar waiting to be picked up by rich suitors who will drop them without hesitation the moment they find a more attractive—or faster—replacement. When it comes to the NFL, the corporations have all the power. Not just the league and teams, but the sponsors as well.

Accepting these truths about NFL business makes adidas’s promise to sign the prospect with the best 40-yard dash time to an endorsement deal smell like a desperate grab for headlines. The news, first reported by Darren Rovell at, seems particularly strange considering NFL players aren’t allowed to wear adidas gear during games; rules only permit Nike and Under Armour apparel. Would sponsoring the fastest player help adidas slice into the NFL money pie? Probably not, even if that player was good. The fact that the contest is predetermined for a single skill rather than an overall body of work is dumbfounding, since speed does not guarantee ability.

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Kevin Durant Seduced By Villain’s Role

Kevin Durant used to be nice, but not anymore. At some point this season, the second-best player in the NBA stopped being the silent choirboy fans respected, and Nike and Wieden+Kennedy anticipated the change for their recent “KD Is Not Nice” campaign. Call it truth in advertising, because for whatever reason, Durant has really started to embrace the roll of edgy superstar.

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Op-Ed: The Super Bowl’s Big Brand Wins Aren’t What You Might Think

Our final day of Super Bowl ad-related coverage (we hope) continues with the return of our regular contributor Josh Seifert, now client services director at Huge, who took January off but is back to share his thoughts, on, among other things, how Twitter (along with the Ravens, of course) emerged victorious from Sunday night’s big game.

As a paid member of the advertising industrial complex, it’s my job – like it probably is yours – to pay more attention to Super Bowl advertising than any normal person. This year, because so many ads were available to watch online before the game, I was able to spend more time in the commercial breaks evaluating how much attention they were getting from the people I was watching with who don’t work in advertising. It should come as no surprise that while there’s still curiosity in the advertising sideshow, most people are far less invested in the commercials than we all are.

At a macro level Super Bowl media is powerful, measured to be effective, and drives business performance for many brands advertising. It’s by and large entertaining, even if only to wish that a particular spot could be “unseen.” Best of all, every day people actually do seek to watch some commercials—at least purposefully seeing them — instead of merely regarding advertising as for some sucker easily manipulated out of their purchasing free-will. But, despite all this, the masses weren’t banging down the doors of the nearest store on Monday morning to stock up on pistachios.

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Post-Super Bowl Op-Ed: Dear GoDaddy, Please Stop

We continue winding down our Super Bowl XLVII ad-related coverage with an emphatic plea from Harry Woods, partner/creative director at New York-based agency, Woods Witt Dealy & Sons, which has worked with the likes of CNBC, Sundance Channel, Duracell Powermat, Cheerwine and HDMX Jam Bluetooth Speaker over the years. As the headline implies, Woods has strong feelings about GoDaddy’s latest Big Game effort. Take it away, sir.

Stop. Please just stop. Please, please, America begs you. The entire world is on its knees. You’ve got a whole year, once again, to somehow figure out how to stop being such a gigantic d-bag of a company and just knock it off.

There was hope that it wouldn’t happen again this year.

On June 12, 2012, in a New York Times Media Decoder post, Stuart Elliott proclaimed hopefully that “A ‘Grown Up’ GoDaddy Hires an Ad Agency.” Not just any agency, but a good one won the pitch to wrestle the duties of making Super Bowl spots from whoever inside the GoDaddy organization was responsible for pushing the world’s face in this yearly 30-second toilet full of sexism, bad taste, stupidity, lampshade-on-your-head-but nobody-is-laughing jokes, and rich-guy-self-indulgence that company founder Bob Parsons calls “GoDaddyesque” advertising.

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Op-Ed: To Excel at Super Bowl Advertising, Watch ‘Game of Thrones’

The closer we get to Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday, the more frequent the agency output it seems. Our latest entry comes from Camilo La Cruz (@akaJuanSmith on the Twitter), a six-year RAPP vet who currently serves as EVP, director of experience & innovation design at the agency. As his headline tells us, Cruz cites a certain fantasy novel series-turned-hit HBO show as one that could provide the ideal inspiration for those choosing to advertise during the Big Game. Take it away, sir.

The Super Bowl continues to prove its value to marketers who understand how to make the most of a rich digital landscape. The most sophisticated advertisers know that they are dealing with a changed television environment where increasingly complex narratives are extended by several layers of interactive and social experiences.

Take Game of Thrones, the HBO series with a cult following and one of the most effective digital ecosystems on television. The show offers the typical multi-layered narrative that is signature of 21st century TV. It also offers fans a few important apertures that are relevant to marketers seeking the highest return for their Super Bowl dollars.

Today’s successful TV shows offer a great benchmark for Super Bowl marketers and an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the proper digital ecosystem alongside the potential cost of opportunity of business as usual. In this sense, to craft a powerful Super Bowl experience, consider the following paths:

#1 – Plot Your Engagement Bell Curve

Consider the Super Bowl as the highest point in an experience that begins and ends weeks, if not months, prior and after the big day. To drive maximum viewership between seasons HBO has been releasing and improving platforms like HBO Connect where fans of shows like Game of Thrones come together around anything from an unstructured social conversation to orchestrated live discussions with cast and creators of the show.

One example of this line of thinking is Coke’s social gaming experience created for this year’s Super Bowl. At the center of the experience is a spot called “Mirage” that has multiple possible endings. Coke fans can decide which ending appears on the big game by voting and engaging on a series of activities that will be progressively unlocked as the event nears. This last part being a key point of differentiation versus other brands who have typically relied on contests, voting, and other submission-driven experiences with no link to a bigger narrative.

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Ravens, 49ers, and the Commercials that Define Them


We spend the weeks before the Super Bowl watching loops of highlights and anticipating how popular brands will use their four-million-dollar ad slots, but rarely do we do both at the same time. However, this year is special. After we’ve trampled on all obvious storylines—the retirement of Ray Lewis, Harbaugh genetics, Kaepernicking, etc.—the real clue to Super Bowl XLVII may come down to a pair of Visa commercials from five months ago.

Visa launched their NFL Fan Offers campaign in the fall, giving football fiends the chance to win prizes like Super Bowl tickets or a hangout session with John Madden. To promote the program, Visa ran two significant commercials: one for the Baltimore Ravens, and one for the San Francisco 49ers. With respect to DVR, you may be vaguely aware of NFL Fan Offers, because FOX and CBS ran the commercials so many times each Sunday that I was almost ready to petition for the “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy to come back in their place.

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And Now, a Quickfire Super Bowl Ad Q&A with an Agency ECD

Our pre-Super Bowl coverage continues, this time with a little insight from Tripp Westbrook, who’s actually not a character from Knots Landing, but in fact the partner/executive creative director at Dallas-based agency, Firehouse. Conjuring up the words of Padma Lakshmi, here’s a quickfire Q+A regarding the Big Game with Westbrook, who’s worked as a creative director at GSD&M  and an ACD at Fallon prior to Firehouse.

What ads you’re most looking forward to this year?
I’m trying to go into it with no expectations and just let them wash over me. Yes, I think that might be best.

Is the ever-increasing Super bowl ad cost really worth what’s now $4 million a spot?
Wow, that’s certainly a big number to try and get a return on. However, I think that for the right client with the right execution, it’s certainly possible to generate PR, and talk value, that far exceed the actual media cost. The value can get amplified even further if you leverage other digital/social assets to work hand in hand with it.

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Op-Ed: A Recipe for Successful Super Bowl Ads

Our Super Bowl coverage continues, now with an entry from Brenda Fiala, who’s spent the last three years in New York as SVP, strategy at Blast Radius and had worked for several years as a strategist at Diageo during her career. Here, Fiala has some sage advice for big game advertisers. So, why waste your time with our drivel, read on.

That which drives sales works. That which does not is a huge failure.

Advocacy and social vitality succeed when they drive sales, and that’s why launching the ad in social media prior to the Super Bowl is worth it if the ad connects with audiences to start sales sooner—as in before the actual game. Unfortunately, too many pre-Super Bowl ad launches may fatigue the audience’s patience over time.  TV is still a funny medium in that its effect on brand sales cannot be directly measured. Digital ads, however, are less ambiguous as drivers of sales.

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Op-Ed: How to Buy the Super Bowl for Under $3.5 Million

Though our interest has waned a tad considering that none of our teams actually made the cut, there is as always plenty of anticipation for the marketing bonanza–er, sorry, NFL football championship–that is the Super Bowl. We expect more industry insight as we head towards the Big Game on Feb. 3, and some post-game thoughts afterwards. So, let’s begin with this ditty from Tony Winders, SVP of marketing at L.A. based in-image ad platform, GumGum. Here, Winders advises marketers on digital plans that extend beyond the TV blitz.

As big brands prepare to spend big money to advertise on CBS during Super Bowl XLVII – reportedly $3.5 million for a 30-second spot – smart advertisers are finding more resourceful ways to reach the Super Bowl’s audience online.
While it’s hard to match the impact of television or the captive audience of consumers as hungry for the ads as they are for the game, use of contextual and audience targeting in the days and weeks surrounding the Super Bowl can extend the reach of a television buy and give advertisers who can’t otherwise afford it a way to associate their brands with the biggest television sporting event of the year.

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