Saturday, February 6, 2016

Get Ready To Watch "Brand Bowl 50"

In case you haven't noticed, today's wide world of sports is all about marketing. Marketing is at the center of commerce, and commerce is at the center of our way of life, at least here in the Western world of capitalist democracy.

One feature of modern marketing is brand building, establishing top-of-mind awareness or zeal for a specific brand. Hence we see an abundance of company logos on race cars, at sporting events and in television commercials.

Atop the endcap at a local grocery store.
The logo is the company's "mark" much like the iron brand used by cattlemen to mark their livestock in the Old West. It needed to be distinctive and definitive. So it is that companies strive to establish a "mark" that sums up who they are, or at least brings to mind everything they represent.

In tomorrow's game, you'll notice that the Denver Bronco and Carolina Panthers wear their logos on their helmets. It's their "mark." They also each wear their distinctive colors, another feature of a well-defined brand. Companies have logos and specific colors associated with them. They may not be as flamboyant as today's sports teams, but they're not random either.

So what has the Super Bowl become at age 50? It's not just about a game. We can't deny that it's a big deal for the teams who are playing, and their fans. A Super Bowl title is a major achievement for any franchise, and those rings are worth more emotionally than the bonuses paid to the game winners. For a lot of people it's the commercials that entice us to stay to the end. And for quite a few it's that over-the-top extravaganza known as the Halftime Show. And what is the Halftime Show? It's something akin to the Bowl itself, as various stars and performers vie for contention to have their "brand" selected as the feature billing on the world's largest stage. Isn't that what celebs are these days? They're brands. When you say Springsteen, Madonna, Dylan, you're no longer talking about persons. These are franchises. This year's winners were Bruno and Beyonce.

The price tag on this year's Super Bowl spots is five million for each thirty seconds. That's just air time and doesn't include production costs. For a 55 billion dollar dollar company like Audi a Super Bowl spot is chump change, but their presence in the Big Game sends a clear message that they are a player. Their 90-second spot is worthy of getting listed as a contender for any top ten list of Super Bowl commercials. My opinion. Titled "The Commander" it carries added emotional punch by use of the recently deceased David Bowie's "Starman" as soundtrack followed this past week by Apollo astronaut Ed Mitchell's passing Thursday.

How do brands measure success for a campaign like this? To some extent it's measured in buzz. Their aim is to move the needle with regard to sales, but is that the only measure? One key measure in our internet age is brand engagement.

Here's a cool website that is measuring how many times people post something about a brand on social media, measured by hashtags. It's a dynamic infographic in the shape of a football field, a real-time hashtag tracker for the Super Bowl ads. They're calling it the #BrandBowl. According to the microsite's developers, "Hashtags have become the defacto call-to-action over website urls so we decided to track the hashtags to see which ads resonated with TV watchers the most. For marketers who are more interested in the commercials than the game itself, the BrandBowl is a great way to follow the social action throughout the game."

If you've got your laptop with you while watching the game Sunday, The Brand Bowl will help you keep in touch with all the action.

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