Psst. It’s not about the movies


Confession: I kinda like awards shows.

The dresses, the tears, the suspense of a category where it’s too close to call, and undeniably, the allure of live TV where just about anything can happen:


In addition to streaking, something that occurred quite often in awards shows of the past was that when winners took to the podium to accept the statuettes, they mentioned the actual films and the film-making process instead of a cause du jour, the day’s trending topic on Twitter—or if you’re J.K. Simmons, a reminder to call your mom and dad.

Go figure.

Sarcasm aside, there’s a valuable communications lesson here. Unless you are Meryl Streep, those opportunities just don’t come around very often, so I’ve never much resented those winners who plant their well-dressed feet in the spotlight, dare the orchestra to rush them, and have their say in front of a few billion people.

It’s true, your cause likely will never have an audience of that size, but those times in the spotlight do come around sometimes. Be prepared and make the most of them.

It’s a simple thing, but bad weather is a great marketing/communications catalyst because everyone is experiencing the same thing at the time time. In addition to the ubiquitous jokes about bread and milk, there’s talk about community, checking on the elderly, equipping shelters, making sure blood supplies don’t run too low, helping the needy keep the heat on, taking care of pets, etc., etc.. If your cause is part of the Deep Freeze story, make sure your message gets heard.

And circling back to last night’s Academy Awards, there’s no doubt that ALS and Alzheimer’s non-profits everywhere are riding the coattails of Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore to increase support for better patient care and research.

Skeptical? Consider a clip posted last fall to YouTube of the Louisville Leopard Percussionists playing Led Zeppelin. It caught the ear of Jimmy Page himself and has gone viral with help from Time magazine, Amy Poehler, Rosie O’Donnell and others.


The Leopards are loving it, and I’m betting if they didn’t have a waiting list already, they’ve got one now.

Tell your story with enthusiasm and consistency. When the spotlight comes, who cares if you are wearing Bass Weejuns instead of Jimmy Choos? Stand fast, wink at that orchestra and speak your piece.

Super Bowl Ad Monday


For smaller businesses and non-profits, regular advertising often is out of financial reach, which is why it is so vital to have a communications strategy in place that takes full advantage of free, or nearly free, promotional opportunities.

But the latter is a blog post for another day.

Television advertising likely has no bigger day around the water cooler than the day after the Super Bowl. There’s the pricetag: $4.5 million for 30 seconds; There’s the estimated number of viewers: 110 million; There are the celebrity sightings: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Mindy Kaling, Britney Spears, etc.; Oh yes, and then there are the products themselves.

With so much money in play, it’s not surprising that so-called “experts” in advertising and marketing disagree on the effectiveness of the ads. Interestingly enough, the definition of “effectiveness” could be the reason for the disparate views.

Consider the viewpoint of Rob Siltanen, founder of a Los Angeles-based ad agency who wrote about Super Bowl ads in Forbes:

What other venue better assures that people are going to watch your commercial or talk about your brand more than being on the Super Bowl? What other venue says you’re a first-rate, big-time, trustworthy brand more than the Super Bowl? What other place allows you to catch the eyes of (millions of) men and women with one fell swoop? … What event can better tie-in and harness the power of digital and social media? And what other event better allows your brand and products to be talked about for weeks leading up to the event, during the event, and for weeks, months, and even years after the event?

His last point resonates. I still love Tide To Go’s Talking Stain ad from 2008, and when pros count down the best TV ads ever, the lion’s share debuted around a Super Bowl game.

Going back to Siltanen’s comments, notice there’s not a single dollar sign or percentage in any of his observations. Yes, advertising is about money, but its value is not so easily calculated.

Regarding personal purchases, price is a huge factor (for most of us), of course, but perception elbows its way in there, too. Think Crest instead of Colgate; Hunt’s instead of Heinz. Advertising is about perception.

What about the bottom line? Extreme Reach (previously known as Brand Ads) released a report on the performance of 2014 Super Bowl ads. They found that the consumers surveyed were, on average, 6.6 percent more likely to consider purchasing the product after having seen the ad than they were before. That response was consistent among 83.9 percent of advertisers.

Advertising works. It is important to find a place for it in your business’ or organization’s budget. Use it wisely and make sure you have a top-notch ad before you sign the dotted line.

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