Lothery & Associates

Super Bowl Night Offered Plenty to Talk About

Lots to cover this morning, so let’s get straight to it. We had two big things yesterday, the Super Bowl live on Fox, and the live interview with President Obama, on Fox News. As a major sports fan and Adjunct Professor in the Georgetown Sports Industry Management Program, let’s start with the game…and the commercials.

Social media was a flutter all last night. From Facebook to Twitter, the fans had something to say.  Over all, the winners appeared to be: Bridgestone, Volkswagen, and Audi. With some runners up like Chrysler and Teleflora.  What made the winners, winners? Messages and approaches that appeal to their target audience.

  • Bridgestone registered with a lot of professionals who have hit the reply all button and regretted it, not to mention all of us who have hit reply, typed a less than public-friendly email, and hit send, and had that little flutter of panic about whether we simply hit reply, or reply all.  The second add featuring the beaver appealed to the millions of drivers who have swerved to avoid a fuzzy little creature, have ever had a close call in bad weather, and really want to believe that someone is watching out for our safety. Combining all of those in that little “pay it forward-style” give and take scenario was too cute and just enough to create some trust.
  • Volkswagen appealed to my generation who grew up with Star Wars, our parents who had to take us to those movies, and the Gen Y folks who are driving their own cars and enjoyed the second Star Wars Trilogy back in the 90s. That’s millions of people who want “the force” to be with them, and recognize that remote starters typically come on higher end, more expensive models. Creative messaging and a nice delivery package definitely worked.
  • Audi continues to position itself as the luxury brand for the adventurist driver who loves performance as much as they love appearance. It was a simple concept with simple messaging.  Audi drivers cheered, non-Audi drivers wanted one.
  • Chrysler reminded everyone it was still in Detroit. It featured a drive through the distressed city, and a unique close with Detroit Native, Eminem, reminding America that strength comes from rising from challenges and near failures. Finishing with one of the top grossing rap artists in the country, gives the impression that Chrysler plans to rise from its near financial destruction and take a top leadership spot, just like its spokesman. The American viewer is big on comebacks! Check any sports story, or actor in Hollywood who has fallen from grace and regained their position at the top.
  • The Teleflora ad simply jumped into the minds of many men as they try to figure out what to say on Valentine’s Day. It’s no secret men and women are wired differently: women like the wooing, soft words and soft approach. Men are typically more instinct driven and choose to filter their thoughts to deliver them in a way that women want to hear them. It’s great that Faith was thinking a “female friendly” thought would come out when she told her friend to write from the heart, and just go with it. He wrote about what he was thinking which was clearly lacking his “female friendly” filter and pressed send. That was a scenario that has undoubtedly been played out in many a mind prior to last night, and finally, it had a chance to to just be out there! Everyone at home chuckled, if even simply to themselves, because they’ve either done it, thought it, or had been on the receiving end of it.

What all of these approaches have in common, is the connection to the human condition. Be it the thought, mood, dream, or memory of times past, they are all cases of marketing professionals taking a walk in their target audience’s shoes to make a connection. They allow the audience to live the commercial for just a moment.

The Other Fox Story

Now, as if the Fox enterprise needed more eyes on it last night, Bill O’Reilly managed to score an interview with President Obama as well. The President has been criticized for years for avoiding the network, and finally agreed to a sit down.

As ususal, whenever I discuss a politician, put your red, blue or tea party hats aside. We’re talking about messaging and media strategy here, not what you plan to check off on the next ballot.

Every now and then a reporter will ask an over the top inflammatory question in hopes of eliciting an equally controversial or hot answer.  Last night, the question was, “Does it bother you that so many people hate you?” Many Presidents have been asked about how they’ve been perceived over the course of history.  George W. Bush was asked numerous times about how he felt about his low approval rating, especially after it had dropped below 40%. But never was he asked about whether people hated him. It was always phrased more diplomatically, with words like “low approval rating.”

With a short chuckle and a big smile, the President responded, “People who hate me, don’t know me. People hate because they don’t know me. So I don’t take it personally at all.” I’m never a fan of repeating inflammatory words like “hate” as a part of an answer, because it turns power over to the interviewer. However, in this instance it was a good use, and nice turnaround. Clearly noted, as Mr. O’Reilly’s response was, “That’s true.”

The neutralization of the word hate by first a laugh, a smile, and then turning it into a word based on lack of knowledge and awareness, and not a personal attack, Mr. Obama took what could have been a defensive response where he jabbed back and turned it into almost a little fly buzzing around with no consequence.

So here are some tips should you find yourself in an interview and on the receiving end of a negatively charged and loaded question designed to get an emotional response from you:

  • Remain calm.
  • View the reporter as simply your vehicle to deliver your message to your audience, and not as the controller of your message.
  • Laughter or smiles are appropriate only if the question is so absurd or unexpected.
  • Find the neutralizer for the situation: lack of knowledge or exposure, anonymous unknown third party, underlying yet unstated bias, a unifying goal or outcome, a shared struggle or challenge. Then use that as a way to diffuse the question.

These are just some of the ways to stay engaged and on message when doing a controversial or confrontational interview.

Good luck and may all of your communications be good ones!

 

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