Successful Super Bowl Ads Generate a Reaction

Curator’s Scott Battishill joined some of the industry’s most successful and accomplished advertisers and marketers last week for the American Advertising Federation’s 2016 Chalk Talk. The panel spent the evening going over spots from #SB50, sharing their opinions on what worked, what didn’t, which made an impact and which were duds.

The overall sentiment was that companies have to take a stand, make a splash, or do something crazy to stand out in such a loud, crowded marketplace.

To put it bluntly, neutrality sucks and it’s not going to get brands anywhere.

Some brands seemed to put out ads just for the sake of having an ad. They wasted $5+ million and didn’t take advantage of the stage they were on. The spots that everyone forgot about were the spots that didn’t have brand recognition, connect with the viewer, or strongly tie into social, which is where the conversation would continue long after the Lombardi trophy was awarded.

When a brand is competing for attention, they have to be the Donald Trump: loud, crazy, controversial and memorable. Brands who are safe, boring, neutral – the Jeb Bush of commercials – are forgotten. When there is so much going on in the viewer’s life – a game to watch, a beer to drink, a friend to talk to – it’s easy for a brand to get lost in the commotion. Spots that stood out made viewers stop, listen, react and respond.

So the take away here isn’t, “What’s the formula for a successful Super Bowl commercial?” The take away is brands will never get anywhere sitting in the middle. Whether good or bad, some reaction is better than no reaction. Either way, people are still talking about your brand and [hopefully] remembering your product.


For Chalk Talk 2016, Scott was joined by Mary Knight, Principal and ECD of Hydrogen; Ronan O’Mahony, Director of Brand & Advertising at T-Mobile; Cal McAllister, Co-Founder and CEO of Wexley School for Girls; and Troy McCall, Freelance Creative Director. The event was moderated by Chris Copacino, Account Director at copacino+fujikado.

Social Media’s ROI is the Same as a Billboard

" Billboard  003" by  Roberto Nieves  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

"Billboard 003" by Roberto Nieves is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Brooke shared a great link this week about how brands have, and continue to, struggle with tying their social media efforts and spending to return on investment. It’s a great post, and you should check it out, but it’s also a really frustrating one.

It’s frustrating because there seems to be a double standard when it comes to paid and earned media. Most mid- to large-sized brands have, at some point, purchased a billboard or radio ad, and felt good about it because it delivered them X amount of impressions. How do we get those impressions? Who knows. It’s an assumed based on, X amount of people drive by there every day, and that data comes from some traffic study done some number of years ago.

With earned social media, we know exactly how many people have seen an ad—that’s what branded social media posts are—how many of them chose to interact with it, and we can even take steps to roughly, but still pretty accurately, quantify how much actual revenue the ad generated.

Why, then, is earned media held to such a stricter proof of ROI than traditional paid media?

I’m not saying that social media shouldn’t be held to a strict proof of ROI. But I am asking why it seems so inherently easy to consider an ad buy of X impressions a success, while a social campaign with the same number of impressions would just as easily be looked upon with suspicion because it couldn’t prove a direct tie to business results.

I’m also not simply saying this isn’t fair—my point is that if you’re struggling to understand what social media can contribute to your business, you should ask yourself if you can draw an A-to-B line from your paid media efforts to your business’ bottom line as well. Because an Instagram post costs a hell of a lot less than space on a billboard, and in a lot of cases, it’s driving the same return: eyeballs.

Realistically, until we come to a Minority Report-style world where consumers’ every movements are tracked, there’s always going to be some level of educated guesswork with ROI. But it makes the most business sense to measure the effectiveness of all media efforts—paid, earned, traditional, non-traditional—against the question, “What does this do for the business?” and treat all answers equally.

You Like Me. Right Now, You Like Me!

via Sally Field is often misquoted when people refer to her 1984 Academy Awards Best Actress acceptance speech. Rather than the oft-heard “You like me. You really like me,” Field actually said “You like me. Right now, you like me!” (proof)

When it comes to Facebook and liking, “right now” is the operative word (rather words).

You see, over the past several months, we’ve been noticing shifts – some lightning fast and others glacial – in what advertising or promotional tactic works best on the world’s largest social network when it comes to growing fans. Right now, the answer seems to be Like Ads.

For much of 2012 and the early part of 2013, Promoted Posts were King. Companies that manage their profiles well were taking their best content and paying to promote it to a wider audience than their existing fan base. The theory was that this content – if written well and using a good image – would be well received enough to turn these potential fans into real ones. And it worked.

Then it stopped working. First slowly, then more dramatically. We saw accounts that were gaining 100 new fans per week drop to 10 with the same budget and same fun, pithy content. Clearly, something changed and, as a result, we needed to, as well.

What to do? Facebook’s advertising platform and myriad ways of reaching its members continues to evolve, and mid-year, Like Ads – true to their name – stood out as the new champion of driving new folks to Like a page. That 90% drop in Promoted Post performance was completely reversed and then some. In fact, we’ve seen some clients spend less on Like Ads today than they were on Promoted Posts in their heyday, and they’re seeing 15-20% better page growth.

The other important thing to remember about Like Ads is that now, with all these new folks coming to your page, it’s even more critical to provide regular, fresh content, a good cover image, and strong relationship-building commentary with fans. The more people who come (as a result of those Like Ads), the more brands have to do to make sure their legions of fans stay connected.

Again, though, “right now” is the operative word, and it’s a word of caution.

When it comes to social media, there’s no such thing as autopilot. What works today may not tomorrow, and it’s imperative for brands to not only monitor the performance of their pages and profiles, but also to analyze the data they get back and react and optimize accordingly. Success in social media is not a given or a one-tactic show. It comes from smart planning, hard work, a quick-response mindset, and knowing which tools to implement and when.

So, when someone within your organization asks you, “Do you think we should be running Like Ads?,” after doing some more research, the conversation you should have should start with “Right now…”

(Author’s Note: Facebook has many tools for many different needs. While this particular article focuses on the goal of driving page Likes, your goals may differ and other tools may be needed. In all cases, it’s best to understand your objective and then look for tools that can help best achieve those objectives.)

Curator News Feed: June 28, 2013

Summer is in full swing here in Seattle, and this week we're buzzing about clever Guinness ad placements, pantsuits on Twitter, the return of the Twinkie, and even the unthinkable: unplugging from social media. The jury's still out on the likeliness of that last one, but we'll leave it up to you. Enjoy our last links of the week for the month of June, and let us know what you've been reading, too!


Twinkies Are Back! Now What?AdWeek. How do you resurrect a brand from the dead? We’ll find out as Twinkies hit the shelves once again. But, they face one of the biggest challenges of any brand as companies have had the opportunity to introduce alternative products. But, Twinkies may be ready to combat this, starting with a new tagline that plays off of the product’s comeback – “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” Consumers and marketers alike will have to decide in the coming months if the statement is true. – Annie

Are you Really a Ninja? How to Rock Your Twitter Bio as Hard as Hillary Clinton, Fast Company. Writing your own bio can be hard, writing your own bio under 200 characters is quite the task. I'm taking cues from these celebrities on Twitter and starting to re-think my own Twitter bio. – Brooke

'The Great Gatsby' Visual Effects Reel Unveiled, Huffington Post. If you have five minutes, this is a pretty cool video that shows the before and after of where a green screen was used in filming. If you have a couple hours, go see the movie! (Bonus, the Lana Del Rey song from the soundtrack accompanies the reel.) – Chelsey

Guinness Transforms Office Windows Into Pint Glasses, PSFK. Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest ones. Case in point: Grey Group Canada’s use of window stickers and existing blinds to simulate a pint of Guinness. The result: brilliantly integrated advertising at a fraction of the cost. Check out the photos in the link and tell me you’re not thirsty. – Matthew

10 Social Media Mistakes You May Be Making (Because I Did), Marketing Land. I love this post from Courtney Seiter, one of my favorite new social media connections of 2013. In this post, she lays it all on the table — all the mistakes she's made over the years as a social media marketer, and how to avoid them. This post is packed with good information and insights. I promise you'll find something useful in it. – Paul

credit: Humans of New York Facebook page

Humans of New YorkFacebook. At Curator, we believe that brands should be storytellers. Facebook and other forms of social media are the perfect place to start. What began as a photography project has turned into a chronicle of thousands of stories. I love how this captures tiny yet gripping snapshots. Find their website here. – Megan

Brands Celebrate DOMA Ruling on Facebook, TwitterMashable. On the heels of Supreme Court's decision to deem DOMA unconstitutional this week, I thought I'd share the brands that decided to celebrate alongside millions of Americans in this step towards equality. – Maria

How Instagram Almost Ruined My Life, Fast Company. This is an interesting take on how the Instagram phenomenon has, to some extent, prevented people from actually seeing and experiencing life, instead opting to showcase their glossy version of it for all to see. Kind of makes you think— in today's social media-savvy society, how important is it to unplug every once in awhile? Tell us what you think! – Noelle

Dallas Weather, It’s hot here in Dallas! Matthew and I have been tag-teaming the Seattle’s Best Coffee rollout here for two weeks and we’re now 10 of 14 days with 100-degree weather – Dan

The Curator News Feed: February 1, 2013

With lots of talk about the big game this Sunday, it’s no surprise that many of our favorite reads this week are about the highly anticipated Super Bowl ads. But a few other stories caught our attention, including the decline of proper grammar use, a visual history of Lego's and the rising popularity of new social network, Vine.  

3 Ways Advertisers Can Use Vine, hasoffers. Among the 2013 class of rookie social networks, Vine appears to be the first one to break out (though Twitter is its parent company, so, of course). Vine is like a Twitter-for-videos — you shoot little video segments till they total six seconds, the result of which is a GIF-looking mini-movie, and then upload them to an Instagram-looking feed. If this sounds like a mishmash of various social networks and internet memes, well, it kind of is, but that hasn't stopped some users from getting creative with it. Check out the vines at the link from Gap, which shows off a (very) brief history of its advertising, and a Virginia coffee shop, which shows how latte art gets made. – Paul

5 Super Bowl Ads the Enlist Viewer Help, ABC News. With the Seahawks out, I am less excited for the Super Bowl than I was a few weeks ago, however I am still going to tune into the big game for the ads of course! I love reading all of the predictions and seeing the teasers, but this year I’m most looking forward to how brands will use their primetime ad spots to engage their audience. And it appears many already have. Pretty cool. – Chelsey

Most Viral Super Bowl Ads of All Time, Bloomberg Businessweek. The countdown has officially begun – Only two more days till the big game! While I’m still mourning the fact that the Seahawks won’t be playing this Sunday, I am pretty excited to check out which advertisements grace our screens this year. We’ve already seen some previews and teasers pop up from companies like Volkswagen, just adding to the anticipation. This week, Bloomberg Businessweek took us down a walk on memory lane to recap the most viral Super Bowl ads of all time. Personally, I hope the “E*Trade Baby” makes another appearance. What’s your bet on the company that will have the most viral ad this year? Can’t wait to find out! – Annie

Michael C. Moore - VIEWPOINT: Proper grammar ain't a thing like it used to was, Kitsap Sun. I was reading my local paper this weekend and came across this little ditty about the use of proper grammar in today’s digital age. And while it is my job to adapt to the changing landscape and take advantage of communications systems available and used by consumers today (e.g., Twitter), I can’t help but feel a kinship with Mr. Moore and hope that kids do learn and appreciate the importance of grammar in conveying context and meaning. B sure 2 tweet ur thots 2 @danmiller1973 – Dan

How The Usually Dry Annual Report Has Become Brands’ Secret Marketing Weapon, Creativity Online. This article talks about how a lot of companies are realizing that their annual report shouldn’t just contain the dry facts and figures, but that it’s an opportunity to connect with consumers and show the world what they’re all about. I’m sure you’ve heard of, or seen, Warby Parker’s Annual Report that blew up the interwebs the last two years, but there are some other great examples of companies flexing their creative muscles. – Megan

55 Years of the Brick, Facebook. As a father of a two year old in an iPad generation, I find myself working hard to make sure my son explores the world around him away from a screen. From Lincoln Logs to Lego's, building toys were a huge part of my childhood and something I want for Jax as he begins to discover the power of his imagination. Montreal agency "Brad" has created some beautifully inspired posters (55 of them of course) for this iconic brand's 55th anniversary. Brilliant and definitely worth checking out. – Shawn

Matt McInerney Scores With Redeisgned NFL Team Logos, If It's Hip, It's Here. This link celebrates the Superbowl this weekend, but it's not an article about predictions or commercials. This designer from New York gave all the NFL Team logos a modern twist. I'm as much of a retro fan as the next 80s child, but some of these are pretty rad. The Seahawks redesign definitely deserves a look. What's your favorite? – Maria

Samsung Next Big Thing, YouTube. Pass the nachos, please. The BIGGEST day in advertising is upon us. – Ann Marie

2013 Golden Globes via Social Media

While most people get excited for the new year because it means a clean slate or a chance to go for those resolutions again, I get excited because it means the Hollywood award season is here. After living in tinsel town for a short while and interning with the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2010, I became even more fascinated with the whole production onscreen and off. But what I noticed most from my behind the scenes look into this world was how social media was slowly transforming the way the public not only saw the show, but got to interact with it.

At the SAG Awards in 2010, Facebook and Twitter were of course the reining champs of the social media world and it was so cool to see media, fans and stars alike sharing snapshots from the red carpet, posting their commentary about who won or should have won, and ultimately giving outsiders a peek into their lives for a night. Fast-forward to 2012 and now 2013, we can see an explosion of social media activity around events like this, both from the public and media.

This past Sunday the 70th Annual Golden Globes aired on NBC and sure enough the Twitterverse was going crazy and Instagram was flooded with photos by stars and media at the show. In response to the surge in conversation about everything from who wore what and the acceptance speeches, to commentary on the winners, social media monitoring services Radian6 and Sysomos compiled and shared their stats from Sunday evening. Sysomos claimed, “[there was] an astounding 2.4 million mentions of The Golden Globes. There were 17,270 blog posts, 24,712 online news articles, 8,238 forum postings and a whopping 2,351,722 tweets.” Radian6 showed that despite having competition from the NFL Playoff games happening that same day, the Golden Globes doubled their social media mentions from 2012.

Radian6- 2013 Golden Globes: Over Two Million Mentions 

Other sites like Backstage and also recapped the night’s social media activity by best celeb Tweets, pics and a (fairly comical) GIF of Glenn Close.

Now, while I do love this kind of social media activity for the inherent entertainment and new set of conversation starters, I also think there are some key takeaways that can be applied to the work we do here at Curator. Sure it might be easier to have organic conversation around a big event like this, especially when big stars are involved, but these cultural events can be a great platform for leveraging a brand or product. For instance, one of the main advertisers during the telecast, L’Oreal, took advantage of their airtime and simultaneously tweeted about how to get specific celebs’ look from the Red Carpet. In doing so, they broke the trending list and sparked a lot of excitement and attention from fans and makeup artists. For more on how advertisers shared the social spotlight, check out this great article by Blufin Labs.

Like any major cultural event, whether it be sports championships, political elections, award shows or big news, looking at how and what people were talking about (especially when compared to past years) is a great benchmark for where social media is headed and how the different channels are evolving. So, the next time a big award show is on (Screen Actors Guild Awards January 27th or Oscars Awards February 24th), take a minute to watch what’s happening across social media and see how your observations stack up against the next day reports.

The power of presentation

In the last month, I’ve read several articles that explored nonverbal communication and some of the psychology behind the way people engage with messaging, specifically advertisements, and it got me thinking about the question of presentation versus message. We often see mediocre ideas and messages triumphing over higher quality content simply because the presentation wasn’t as effective. Our world is undoubtedly becoming more and more visual and the sound bites we use to communicate are shrinking. While this poses a challenge for people in the industry of communication and storytelling, it also serves as an opportunity to explore ways to captivate audience members through simple adjustments in overall presentation.

People tend to be moved by emotion, so it seems logical to start there when dissecting the tactics that convey messages successfully. An article I read on Street Directory discussed color and how different hues speak to specific emotions and associations of our subconscious. With the rapid growth and popularity of Pinterest and Instagram it’s clear that people respond strongly to visuals. But what makes one image superior to another? It could very well be the content of the photo, but often it is the quality and colors that move people to action (whether that be sharing, pinning, liking, etc.). I didn’t realize that I personally have started associating certain colors with brands or even industries. Take my phone, for example. I have all of my apps in folders and it’s actually interesting to notice how many of the logos are the same color based on category. Because we interact with logos and brand images all day long we subconsciously begin to link color palettes to specific functions. It’s funny to see and hear the reaction when these are changed. For example, when GAP revamped their logo and introduced a new black and white color scheme a couple of years ago, the public went crazy criticizing the changes. The company ended up reverting back to the blue version.

2010 GAP Logo Change


Similar to the silent language of color is the world of nonverbal communication. Facial expressions, gestures, posture, eye movement, proxemics (essentially personal space), paralinguistics (tone, volume, inflection, etc.) and appearance are all unspoken behaviors that communicate far beyond the reach of the actual content or words used. All of these components influence audience perception and decision-making, especially when the message includes a call to action. It really is amazing how influential even the most minor of adjustments to these devices can be to the overall presentation and penetration of an idea or message. 

I think of body language as like a person’s energy, and it’s totally contagious! I remember two distinct examples from past internships where one client meeting was led by someone who never made eye contact, was fidgety and very cold in terms of their behavior toward the rest of the group. The other meeting was led by a woman who looked everyone in the eye, shook hands, made gestures during conversation and was smiling the whole time. I remember being immediately captivated and excited to work with the woman from the second meeting based on her mannerisms and the way her actions made me feel both comfortable and important. I think in both cases the nonverbal communication set the tone for the meetings and directly impacted the level of engagement everyone in the room reciprocated.

Thanks to technology, these may not be top of mind or even applicable when the message is being disseminated through mediated lines of communication. But people still thrive on human contact, and that’s such a huge part of the work we do at Curator and in any field.