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”

Setting Brand Objectives: Not Just What, But Why

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

When you’re setting brand objectives, you of course have to clearly identify what the objective is.  But it’s even more important to identify the WHY – why it’s important to achieve.

A client once told me that her objective for a new brand strategy was to make her business seem “edgier.” When asked why, she told us that she was concerned that her legacy consumer was aging.  So she thought an “edgier” presentation would help her attract younger consumers.


For over two decades, her brand had delivered prestige, polish and refinement.  It was truly a best-in-class service experience with the awards and accolades to show for it.

Through the course of the brand strategy project, I was able to convince her that “edginess” was inauthentic.  And it would undermine years of brand equity.

A better approach to attract new consumers? Adopt new targeting methods and messaging. It worked.

Why Are You Chasing Market Share?

Continue reading “Setting Brand Objectives: Not Just What, But Why”

Want Results? Get Objective.

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

It was 1995 when the phone rang at Van Melle USA, manufacturer of Airheads and Mentos candies. A reporter from a major advertising industry publication was calling Liam Killeen, Van Melle’s vice president of marketing.

The reason?  To inform him that a panel of big-agency creative directors had just voted the Mentos ads the worst of the year. So, the reporter asked, did Liam have any plans to kill the campaign?

“Yes, we absolutely do,” said Liam.

The reporter began to make some noises about what a smart decision that was, but Liam interrupted him. Continue reading “Want Results? Get Objective.”