Super Bowl Commercials Stirred Our Emotions

A good Super Bowl commercial (or really any commercial) will make the viewer feel something – it will make us laugh, it will make us cry, but it will find something to help us make an emotional connection with both the commercial and the product that it is selling. This year’s Super Bowl commercials were no different.

Name:  Steffany Reeve, director of consumer and lifestyle brands

My Favorite Commercial: “Empowering” from Microsoft

Why I Liked It: Since the actual game was depressing to watch with my husband who is a big Broncos fan, I was drawn to commercials that made me laugh, inspired me and tugged on my heart strings in a positive way. One ad that nearly brought me to tears was Microsoft’s “Empowering” spot. The commercial was narrated by former NFL player Steve Gleason, who uses voice recognition software to communicate with his son and shares the message that technology can improve our lives and can help create miracles. The compilation of scenes that included a young boy walking and playing baseball with artificial legs, a soldier using Skype to watch the birth of his baby, a blind man using technology to paint, and a women hearing herself for the first time, was captivating and powerful. To provoke emotion and capture the audience’s hearts is an ad style that I believe will prove effective and memorable for Microsoft.
 

Name:  Emily Luciano, communications manager

My Favorite Commercial: “A Hero’s Welcome” from Budweiser

Why I Liked It: This commercial resonated with me on so many levels. Let’s start with the professional level. As a communications professional, it’s my opinion that good communication — whether it a pitch to a writer, a story in a magazine or a television commercial — should illicit some kind of emotion from the person on the receiving end. “A Hero’s Welcome” did that. With its cast of real people and idyllic Main Street, flag-waving parade, I feel that it captured the essence of America. I imagine that millions of viewers felt nostalgic and proud, and for a mere moment, forgot about the travesty of a game.
On a personal level, this commercial had me in tears. All the leading men in my life — my husband, father, brother, grandfather, stepfather and father-in-law — are either active Army or Army vets. I am unable to put into words the amount of respect I have for our servicemen and women, and I’m elated that Budweiser chose to honor a real life solider so publicly. Not only did they honor him, but I felt like they also perfectly captured the wide range of emotion wrapped up in homecomings. From the nervousness and anticipation to happiness and elation, I felt like I was welcoming my soldier home as I watched!
Of course, after the commercial my husband turned to me and joked, “That’s what I expect for my next homecoming.” Any chance for a round two, Budweiser?
 

Name:  April McGibbony, office manager

My Favorite Commercial: “Puppy Love” from Budweiser

Why I Liked It: As the owner of a Lab and a lover of the breed, I thought this was the sweetest commercial and truly captured both the loyalty and playfulness of the breed. The commercial brought a tear to my eye.

The Best of the So-So: RLF Reviews This Year’s Super Bowl Commercials

By now everyone knows that last night’s Super Bowl featured a blowout game and very few truly memorable commercials. As RLF’s Creative Director Ron Irons put it: “The game was sad. The commercials a tragedy. What few commercials I watched were boring and full of borrowed interest. The good ones are rare these days.”
However, there were a few bright spots among the mostly unremarkable Super Bowl commercials, and for the next few days, we will be highlighting some of the commercials that captured our attention.

Name:  Monty Hagler, CEO

Favorite Commercial: “America The Beautiful” from Coca-Cola

Why I Liked It: In an evening that featured a disappointing football match-up and an even more dismal array of commercials, Coca-Cola demonstrated why it’s one of the most popular brands on earth. What started as another ad featuring a tried-and-true patriotic song morphed into a beautiful, moving and unexpected visual and auditory feast. Seven languages from diverse cultures, blended together to celebrate our country’s rich tapestry. The fact that the ad ignited immediate criticism and controversy were proof that it touched people and stirred their emotions. America is a country that still inspires the world to treasure our freedoms and simple joys. That’s worth a Coke and a smile.
 

Name:  Michelle Rash, director of financial and professional services brands

Favorite Commercials: “The Phone Call” from Radio Shack and “Wings” from Volkswagen
Why I Liked Them: While on the surface, these commercials may seem very different, I see a common thread running through them – brands accepting, and poking fun at, the reality of how they are perceived in the marketplace.
While I am certainly not an electronics genius, or even a likely Radio Shack customer, my perception of the store is that is has become out-of-date and irrelevant with the rise of other electronics stores and the ability to order anything you need online. I think this commercial did a great job of embracing that “stuck in the 80s” reputation, using it to announce a new, updated Radio Shack. Based on the commercial, my guess is the key demographic for the “new” Radio Shack will be people in their 30s and 40s, and showcasing so many icons of the 80s in the commercial successfully grabbed their attention, created a sense of nostalgia and got them talking – at least if my Facebook and Twitter feeds are any indication.
Likewise, Volkswagen embraces the car company’s reputation for making very reliable, dependable cars and uses it to create an entertaining, and slightly unexpected, commercial, as the company’s engineers are rewarded with wings for each car that reaches 100,000 miles. Today, so many companies take themselves too seriously, so it was refreshing to see Volkswagen find a creative approach to discussing, and enhancing, its reputation in the market.

The Psychology of Marketing and Branding

Book Cover
By David French
My latest read, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, has spurred considerable thought about the branding and marketing work we do for clients. What are “good” design, appropriate colors and the right copy messages? Do subconscious forces influence our work?
The book by Adam Alter, assistant professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, delves into the subtle, unnoticed cues that influence our decisions, behaviors and even our success in life. If you’re unfamiliar with the shade of pink referenced in the title, it’s a vivid, bubblegum shade. Researchers in the 1970s and 1980s found that it significantly calmed children in Canadian schools. They wondered whether the same effect might occur when aggressive people were exposed to the color, so the walls of drunk tanks and jail cells were painted pink. You can guess the result.
I’m pleased to say that RLF has done quite a lot of excellent, award-winning branding and marketing work, directed by our stalwart and experienced creative director, Ron Irons. I sat with him for a few minutes to talk about how we use color, design and copy to support and build brands. I learned that creative direction is less about unseen forces and more about strategy and creativity with a dash of intuition.
“We’re not using colors, shapes and copy concepts to manipulate. At the most basic level we’re trying to help audiences understand a brand, its personality and what it promises to deliver,” he said. “But a fair amount of intuition—you could say the subconscious—does influence design and creative execution for a brand. Plus, I’ve been at it for many years, so experience counts, too.”
Take color, for example. For a client whose business is to educate and enlighten, we recommended the dominant color be shades of yellow—the color of sunlight and illumination. For another who’s in financial services, we used grays, blacks and muted colors to communicate solid, secure, and stable.
Shapes and spacial arrangement of design elements are important, too, to emphasize and clearly communicate what’s important—and to get noticed. As a brand is marketed and promoted, very often those shapes alone carry the entire brand message. Logos and symbols, for example, if property executed can become memorable. Think the Nike “swoosh”—in executions where it’s the only element, it’s immediately recognizable to millions around the world.
Elements like headlines and tags, and copy are the third consideration. Under Ron’s direction, we strive for high creativity, yet keeping it simple and pragmatic. “If the message isn’t easily grasped and understood by the intended audience, then it becomes noise,” he said. “You can be creative without being complex.  And that holds true for all elements of design. They are the tools that provide a visual and verbal context, working together to communicate the core brand message.”
As a “non-creative,” I expected to draw more parallels between the thoughts presented in Drunk Tank Pink and marketing/branding creative. I have to say after talking to Ron, I’m not disappointed that there are few, if any. I’m gratified—and clients can be, as well—that building effective brands is based on strategy, creativity…and a lot of experience.

The Power of Pinterest

By Kara Frasca
The power of Pinterest for companies is in its ability to connect with current and potential customers, and ultimately drive those customers to make purchases. Not only is the site the third-largest source of referral traffic online, but Pinterest traffic converted into a sale 22 percent more times than Facebook traffic. To top it off, a whopping 70 percent of Pinterest users utilize the social media site for inspiration on what to buy. That’s 17.5 million of its 25 million members.

 
So Pinterest is an extremely powerful marketing tool, but is it right for your brand? Unless you’re targeting women between the ages of 25 and 54, the answer is “no.” Eighty percent of Pinterest users are women, and 50 percent of all users have children. Lifestyle brands typically have the best luck on Pinterest, but that doesn’t mean that a company selling dental insurance has no chance at Pinterest success. It’s all about creating good content and appealing to your target audience.
In order for companies to reap the benefits of Pinterest, it is vital that they follow these steps:

Pin often to win

By remaining fresh in a user’s newsfeed, a company has a better chance of capturing attention, and ideally, connecting users to its website. To save time and improve results, use a scheduling tool. Pingraphy and Curalate are two scheduling tools that also offer analytics.  Saturday morning is the best time to reach pinners, so schedule more pins on that day to reach more people.

Crop your images

Because a user sees many different images from different sources in her feed, your pins will be competing with many others’ for attention. Statistics show that pins with taller images get pinned more, so it is vital to crop your images vertically. This cropped format matches Pinterest’s vertical scroll layout and your images will be more likely to catch the attention of users.

Optimize, welcome and convert

Fifty percent of users access Pinterest through a mobile app. In order to reach this demographic, companies must optimize their pin-linked websites for mobile devices. The website must load fast, be easy to read and navigate, and require minimal scrolling.
Since its inception in 2008, Pinterest has grown to become a leading social media platform for both businesses and consumers. That popularity is only increasing. By harnessing its attributes and incorporating these tips into your Pinterest strategy, you can further brand awareness in an effective way.
Have you achieved Pinterest success with your brand? What tips can you share?