The Super Bowl has historically been the place where brands have debuted their big marketing campaigns for the next year, capturing viewers from what is still one of the most-watched events in the U.S. The past few years, those campaigns have included stark stands on social issues: from Audi on women empowerment during last year’s game to Dodge making a connection between its Ram Trucks and public service the other week.
The problem? Both of these ads came off almost immediately as inauthentic, and lead to an online backlash. Audi was immediately called out for how few women actually work at the company. And Dodge debuted its campaign with a distasteful voice overlay from Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Today, even the most casual conversations now contain a deep infusion of socio-political perspective and, often times, heated passion. People previously uninterested politics and social issues are now reading POLITICO and The Hill right alongside their favorite business, beauty and sports publications. This information flow is then wildly accelerated by the digital echo-chambers of various tech platforms that then absorbs the collective thought, mashes it up, promotes it, deconstructs it, and creates a veritable never-ending cycle of exchange between a variety of new and effervescent subcultures and voices on the current state of the United States. Diversity. Immigration. Sexual harassment. Racism. Climate Change. No one is safe, and anyone or thing can become the day’s hottest digital target in a flash.
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In so-called “normal” years, many companies use the Super Bowl to create a halo effect around their brands, taking advantage of the massive audience to talk about our common values. (See: Proctor & Gamble’s #LikeAGirl, among other recent examples.)
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