The following is reprinted from a February, 2007, column I wrote for a Midwest-based equine magazine titled From The Horse’s Mouth, where for nearly five years I wrote each month about how to market your horse business more effectively. I’ve made a few tweaks so that links reflect current information – I hope you enjoy it!
For the Love of the Game, the Underdog, and the Advertising Dollar
By Lisa Kemp
Big advertising dollars are one way to generate brand awareness. Another way is to be an average Joe with a cool idea.
Ah, February! Shortest month of the year, often reviled for being the coldest and dreariest here in the Midwest. Yet smack-dab in the middle of this month’s 28 days is the traditional “lovers’ holiday,” St. Valentine’s Day, often celebrated with candy, cards, and Cupid’s arrows. This year, Cupid may have an earlier chance to fire off some shots, during our nation’s festival o’ advertising, the Super Bowl. If you’re curious about how that will go down, read on….
A Unique Proposal
There’s a movement afoot, started by blogger Joe Morin (ed. note: click here if you want to learn more about Joe’s role and some of the PR and media results he generated), that’s spurring on a fair amount of controversy and buzz. A semi-anonymous football fan seeks to propose to his long-time girlfriend this month, and he wants to do it in a commercial spot during Super Bowl XLI.
The Buzz Is Ad-ding Up
What started as a campaign to raise $2.5 million to purchase Super Bowl time for the proposal has turned into a PR bonanza as “JP” makes his appeal on everything from a dedicated Internet site to Good Morning America (January 10th). Since Super Bowl ad spots have all been sold, as JP garners more attention, major companies have been approaching him about proposing to his fair maiden during their own commercial time. And, the media interest will only escalate as the “big day” nears.
Even if you don’t agree with the public proposal or raising money for the ad time (if JP gets a sponsor, he says any money raised will go to charity), you gotta admit that from a marketing and PR perspective, this is a major touchdown. It’s also an excellent example of the power of new technologies (blogging), word of mouth marketing, and using a fresh approach to implement a dream and a wildly creative idea. Powerful stuff, indeed, and the strategy endorsed and supported by this column.
It’s a Girl Thang
Another interesting tidbit is that this proposal (and the resulting worldwide attention it will generate) comes at a time when the NFL is pushing to reach out to the female fan/consumer with both advertising and merchandising. Sales of ladies-cut team jerseys and pastel caps grew by 12% from the 2004 to the 2005 season, with the NFL’s merchandise sales totaling $3.4 billion in ’05. Hardly chump change, and the NFL is wising up.
Research shows their fanbase is 43% female, and Super Bowl viewership is 40% female, yet what are typical advertisers? Electronics, movies, car manufacturers, junk food, and the perennial fave, beer (Budweiser dominates). But even if female fans are less than half of the viewers on February 4th, through direct spending combined with influenced spending we control the majority of purchasing decisions. It seems advertisers have been slower to catch on than the NFL.
Although 2005’s Super Bowl had no “female-specific” advertisers, last year’s event brought early adopters Dove (promoting a self-esteem fund for young girls) and Slim-Fast (with an ad that ranked in the 5 least popular), advertisers who are generally oriented towards women. But overall, it’s low-brow humor and topics the ad world thinks appeal to men that get the nod; the question is, who do they think they’re scoring with?
What’s Good for the Sports World…
Listen up, horse industry marketers: If the NFL, home of testosterone, good ole boys, and some of the most expensive advertising in the world ($2.5 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl XL ad time) is publicly courting women, don’t you think it’s about time you did, too?
Whether you’re doing something for love (JP) or for money (NFL), you’ll be ahead of the marketing game when your playbook includes innovative strategies and a focus on (female) players.
Ad Alert: Remember the “young Clydesdale dreams big” spot from last year? It ranked #2 on USAToday’s Super Bowl XL Ad Meter; we horse lovers can likely look forward to another Clydesdale spot during Super Bowl XLI. Go, Clydesdales!
© 2007-2011 Lisa Kemp, all rights reserved – brands mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Linking is permitted, with attribution.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back in time to 2007, before the existence of Twitter and the iPhone (which came out in June of that year). If you’re curious about the outcome of the Super Proposal, you can read about it here.
My, how far we’ve come in terms of social media, blogging, and the marketing tools available to the average equine-related business! By the way, 2011 Super Bowl ad spots are around $3 million for 30 seconds; Anheuser-Busch plans to have 5 commercials, including a Western-themed one with the world-famous Clydesdales. Enjoy the game!