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In your expert opinion, which Minnesota brand did the best job with their Super Bowl digital activation/campaign? Tell us why you chose them and what other marketers can learn from them?
One of my favorite digital activations during the Super Bowl included multiple local brands: the #MNNice #NiceOff tweet chain, which was started by U.S. Bank and soon had everyone from 3M to Land O’Lakes chiming in and tagging other companies. Of course, it was a well-orchestrated effort, but it came off as fun and lighthearted. (Lesson 1: Don’t take your brand too seriously – yes, even if you’re a national chain of banks.) And it turns out that the coordination between U.S. Bank and the other brands was a fairly last-minute idea with only a week of planning, which isn’t all that long considering the layers of sign-off and compliance some of these brands may have faced. (Lesson 2: Recognize a late-in-the-game stroke of genius and run with it, plans be damned.)
I’m also a big fan of the Minnesota brands that recognized the opportunity to create real-life experiences that begged to be shared digitally. Take the Polaris stunt with Levi Lavallee doing a snowmobile backflip over Nicollet Mall.
Or the ’Sota Pop experience by Explore Minnesota Tourism (client), which offered scene after Instagram-worthy scene of color-saturated #OnlyInMN art. (Lesson 3: Visuals and experiences that are attention-getting in real-life are more often than not high-impact, highly shareable content online as well.)
Did you notice any missed opportunities or “head-scratchers” among MN brand activations?
Honestly, not really. There were some local brands that I expected to have more of a presence than they did, but all in all, there was a lot of creative, strategic participation from the big brand names all the way to small neighborhood businesses.
I will share one concept that was a bit of a “head-scratcher” when I first heard about the idea, but once I thought about it for a few minutes was hooked: Space150’s Real Minnesota Snowballs vending machine. A just kitschy enough idea, in the right place, at the right time, and with enough appeal that local news coverage was picked up nationwide, and then internationally. Read more about it in the Star Tribune, AdWeek and, perhaps most notably, Pee-Wee Herman’s blog. [Full disclosure: My brother, Nick Nelson, is a Space150 employee and a big part of this effort.]
Seeing one more Super Bowl come and go, do you feel the Super Bowl is still a wise marketing investment for brands? When is it the right strategy?
When done well, and authentically, with a plan to actually reach your audiences – definitely. And when the Super Bowl is hosted in your own backyard, even more so, because brands have a major opportunity to connect with employees and local customers on the ground. For a local company, those factors may be even more impactful in the long run than a one-time TV spot of yesteryear. There was a celebratory feel in the air in the Twin Cities, and a big factor in that was local companies getting in on the fun and encouraging employees do so as well, whether it was by being accommodating for Crew 52 volunteers, participating in the Super Bowl Live festivities or offering employees a once-in-a-career opportunity to be part of Super Bowl projects.