Super Bowl Ads: The Medium Is the Message

Super Bowl Ads: The Medium Is the Message


Evaluating Super Bowl ads has become an immensely popular spectator sport since the big game emerged in 1967. What’s changed recently is that people not only care about the content of the ads but how they’re delivered. For instance:

  • We’ve seen other advertisers take the “anti-real-time” approach, creating a build-up for the big game by sharing teasers for their ads ahead of time, similar to movie trailers. Some brands actually release the ads themselves before the game, in an effort to generate conversation, accumulate online views, and presumably extend the shelf life of the notoriously expensive ads.
  • We’ve seen a variety of other approaches that can best be described as stunts, ranging from Snickers livestreaming the actual set of its ad (for a behind-the-scenes approach) to 84 Lumber generating publicity by talking about an ad that was rejected (a “how we courted controversy” approach).

The latest stunt: Skittles will broadcast a 60-second spot for an audience of one: a teenager named Marcos Menendez from Canoga Park, California. The rest of us will watch Menendez’s reaction via a livestream on Skittles’ Facebook page. Lest you think that Skittles is pulling off the ultimate act of narrowcasting, consider the engagement Skittles is generating:

  • Creation of content about the ad. As Matt Montei, vice president of fruit confections for Skittles’ parent Mars, told Adweek, “We’ll also have content in the form of four different teasers for everyone to view and speculate what that final ad might be, even though they themselves will not be able to view the final ad.”
  • Generation of buzz for Skittles including the audience with the inevitable “Who is Marcos Menendez?” narrative emerging. Think about that. How many ads create conversation because of the audience watching them? The PR entered the realm of the improbable and offbeat when Oakland Raiders Running Back Marshawn Lynch apparently tweeted his phone number because he wanted Marcos Menendez to call him in order to watch the ad with him.

It’s possible that the Skittles campaign is informed by the phenomenal story of Carter Wilkerson, a teenager whose obsession with Wendy’s Nuggets sparked a hilarious viral campaign on Twitter to help the teen win a free year of the nuggets. A seemingly random Twitter exchange between Wendy’s and one person resulted in Carter getting the most retweets in history – and for Wendy’s, powerful PR.

The Wendy’s/Carter Wilkerson story involved a real teen with a passion for Wendy’s Nuggets. But it’s questionable whether Marcos Menendez is even real. What kind of teen joins Twitter in January 2018? When you look at the tongue-in-cheek way Skittles promotes the “audience of one” on its Facebook page, it’s easy to conclude that we’re being set up for an ad that never was to a person who never was. By creating an audience of one, is Skittle’s stealing the voice and power of organic social media? If this campaign is just a stunt and Marcos isn’t real, will the stunt cause more distrust and backlash of social media? At a time when concerns about fake news are prevalent, Skittles could be taking a big risk.

Whether Marcos Menendez real or just a clever stunt, the Skittles promotion underscores the tremendous buzz that national brands create with their ads, both the content and the format. If you are affiliated with a national brand – let’s say you’re a retailer that sells Skittles online and offline – you should be capitalizing on the spike in awareness for Skittles occurring right now. For example, adjust your keyword bids and optimize your online inventory content for people searching where to buy Skittles. Make sure your socials tap into the national campaign. Put the stunt to work for you.

For more insight into how to build your brand and generate revenue through digital advertising, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

Social media

Twitter has certainly taken its lumps for not monetizing its own business effectively — but the platform remains a great tool for brands to share their voice and interact with consumers, as Wendy’s has demonstrated.

Wendy’s is part of a feel-good story that has gone viral: on April 5, a 16-year-old named Carter Wilkerson tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets it would take to win free nuggets for a year, and within minutes Wendy’s responded “18 Million.” To give you some perspective: Twitter has about 313 million active users — so that 18 million is roughly 5 percent of the Twitter population. Carter took to heart Wendy’s reply and challenged the Twitterverse to retweet his plea for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets (“HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS”). And then the fun began, as people and brands responded to his tweet. As of April 13, Carter has received 2.7 million retweets (and counting).

Since I’m a bit of a data nerd, I was curious about how much it would cost Wendy’s to give away free nuggets for a year to Carter if he achieves the feat of getting 18 million retweets. Since prices are variable due to locations, I’ll give a range of $5-$8 for the 10-piece nuggets. Multiply that amount by 365 days, and Wendy’s will be shelling out between $1,825-$2,920 for this little gamble. For a company whose revenues were $1.453 billion in 2016, a few thousand dollars is a miniscule amount given the visibility Wendy’s is receiving.

Carter is on track to break the previous retweet record of 3.3 million for the famous Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie of 2014. Of course, Ellen DeGeneres has many more followers than Carter Wilkerson — 66.8 million followers compared to Carter’s 45,200 followers (as of April 13), a number boosted by his newfound fame. And Ellen DeGeneres had a lot of re-tweeting help from her A-list celebrities. So what Carter Wilkerson is accomplishing is astounding.

How has Carter been able to garner 2.7 million tweets? Just do a search for “Wendy’s 18 Million,” and you can find the answer through the dozens of news media articles written about him and Wendy’s. This kind of viral attention is social media on its best day. What I think is interesting is that other brands are now creating publicity for Carter, and, by extension, Wendy’s, including Hollister Co. & Amazon, both of which have tweeted about Carter’s dream of free nuggets.

Time will tell whether Carter reaches his goal of 18 million, but it’s clear that he and Wendy’s have reminded brands and people that Twitter can be a PR powerhouse. How are you integrating Twitter into your branding and media strategy?