Super Bowl 50: 7 Lessons for Challenger Brands

Super Bowl Ads Challenger Brands
(Reading Time: 5 minutes)

About five million dollars. That’s the cost for one of this year’s 30-second Super Bowl ads.

For most of us who lead challenger brands, that kind of outlay simply isn’t in the realm of possibility. As underdogs, we’re used to doing more with less.

The Super Bowl – and, in particular, the hype surrounding its ads – is perhaps the greatest example in business of flawed thinking on a grand scale. Though attention is heightened during the big game, viewers are primarily looking to be entertained. (This is how we get a Bud Light ad with “caucus” jokes. Oof, you are so ribald!)

Of course, ads that entertain don’t necessarily sell. And challenger brands know that it’s all about selling.

So let’s talk about what the rest of us can learn from this year’s Super Bowl ads. Continue reading “Super Bowl 50: 7 Lessons for Challenger Brands”

Two Rules for Winning for Challenger Brands

Two rules for winning for challenger brands
(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

Most brands are challenger brands. Probably yours.

It’s not just a matter of share. If you have fewer resources than your competitors, you’re a challenger brand. You might have a smaller budget. Lower awareness. A short-handed sales team. Or all of these, plus a few things I haven’t listed, you lucky devil.

I’ve been fortunate to work on challenger brands for my entire career, in both brand management and consulting. I say “fortunate” because victory is sweeter when you come from behind, or when you achieve more with less.

Around 20 years ago, I was the brand manager of Airheads candy. At the time, our two largest competitors, Skittles and Starburst, outspent us by about 20 to 1. Despite this, we tripled our sales in less than five years. And we launched what became the fastest-selling non-chocolate single in the country. (The Airheads 6-bar package can still be found near cash registers today.)

The lesson I learned early: Continue reading “Two Rules for Winning for Challenger Brands”

Are You Herding or Standing Apart?

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

It’s late June here in Chicago, and that means at least three things:

  • We just stopped playing professional hockey last night.  (Congratulations, Blackhawks!)
  • Bar and restaurant patios are full even in the middle of the afternoon, one of dozens of reasons to love this city.
  • The “vests” are out in full force.
“Can I just get a minute of your time?” Uh, no.

In case this phenomenon is not happening in your burg, the “vests” are workers who occupy street corners and solicit donations for charity. They wear colored vests representing their causes – Children’s International, Greenpeace or whatnot. Sometimes they’re also called “chuggers,” short for “charity muggers.”

Continue reading “Are You Herding or Standing Apart?”