CAN WE REALLY CONTINUE TALKING ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL ALL THESE WEEKS LATER?
Indeed, we can.
Because here, we are not about the hype and the glory.
We are about smart thinking, which is not fleeting and faddish, but timeless.
And sometimes, you get that timeless thinking in Super Bowl advertising.
And while, on the face of it, there may not be anything smart about it, we're going to say, "Dilly, Dilly!"
There is so much to be learned from Bud Light's ridiculous advertising campaign that originally began as a one-off celebration of the season premiere of Game Of Thrones, and has since become a cultural phenomenon--including epic Super Bowl glory with extravagant production, throngs of extras, and CGI effects.
What's to be learned?
ONE THING TO BE LEARNED IS COURAGE
How on earth did this thing happen?
And how did the People In Charge let it?
So far, there's not a lot of press about the creative process.
But you can learn a lot from a big, gregarious and amusing Portuguese gentleman by the name of Miguel Patricio, Chief Marketing Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev.
When asked what "Dilly, Dilly" means, he replied, "It doesn't mean anything. We all need our moments of nonsense and fun."
Nonsense and fun?
THIS IS A C-SUITE-ER FROM A $258 BILLION COMPANY
And he has no problem recognizing the need for nonsense and fun?
But it gets better.
He says, "A lot of people ask me, 'How did you approve that?' We didn't expect it to be that successful. It didn't test that well."
OK. One of the world's most powerful Chief Marketing Officers is happy to go against the research.
People don't like it? I don't care!
THAT IS KNOWN AS GOING WITH YOUR GUT
And I applaud the man.
He further says, "Consumers will get it, especially with repetition. We have a chance here for this to become big. So, we went against the research, and we gave a chance to "Dilly, Dilly," and we are so happy."
And here's a phrase that matters.
Mr. Patricio says there's a test you can do. He went to Amazon and did a search and, without Bud Light doing any kind of merchandising, he found all kinds of "Dilly Dilly" related items.
He says, "It becomes cultural currency."
YOU MEAN, LIKE, "GOT MILK"?
Or, "We'll leave the light on for you"?
Or even, "Real men of genius"?
It was disappointing that Bud Light killed that latter campaign.
And yes, it was wildly successful, making the product a category leader and keeping it there for years.
But Bud Light seems to have a new cultural currency that has turned into another juggernaut.
But, there's also a really important question to ask.
IS IT SELLING ANY BEER?
That's hard to know.
But here's what we can tell you.
According to Ted Marzilli, leader of the BrandIndex global business unit of YouGov dot com, Bud Light's perception with men is at an 18-month high.
We just don't know what "Dilly, Dilly!" has to do with that, as there is other advertising running out there.
And as we all know, perception doesn't necessarily lead to sales.
THAT NOTWITHSTANDING, YOU HAVE TO ADMIRE THE NERVE
Selling beer is a multi-million-dollar proposition.
People live and die by tiny movements of the needle and in the balance sheets.
And to go with the gut in a situation like this is admirable.
Which, for us, is one of the solid takeaways from Señor Patricio: Having the courage to go with your gut is one of the unsung characteristics of emotional intelligence.
There are numbers that tell you it isn't necessarily the best way to go--and you go there anyway.
AND UNDERSTAND, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT GOING WITH YOUR EGO
There's a difference.
Going with your ego is all about you.
Going with your gut is about the world outside you.
How can you tell the difference?
Going with your ego makes you feel good.
Going with your gut makes you feel a little nervous.
And it doesn't always work.
But it usually works better than going with your ego.
SO WHAT IS THE TAKEAWAY?
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Have courage.
Marketing can be a scary thing. You're putting a message out there in the world and you can't be sure how it's going to be perceived.
The more impactful the message, the more scary it can feel.
The first time I won a Radio Mercury Award, it was with a message that was scary--because I knew it was good enough to win a cutthroat national competition with a huge cash prize attached.
It was a sweaty palms moment. I was also afraid the client would reject it, making it ineligible. (They did not.)
AND WHEN YOU'RE DEVISING YOUR MESSAGE, FEEL FREE TO PLAY
We all need our moments of nonsense and fun.
Maybe your business can't market with nonsense and fun.
Like if you have a mortuary.
Of course, if you listen to the enormously impactful "Celebrate a life" campaign from Forest Lawn mortuaries, you can hear how fun really does have a place in marketing a business like that.
Not words you think of when you think of the mortuary business.
Unless you work in a funeral home, where I'm told the motto is "The first three letters in 'funeral' spell 'fun.'"
BUT I DIGRESS
Have courage. Go with your gut. Feel free to play.
And don't always believe the research.
It doesn't prove anything beyond what happened in the room.
If you focus group an advertisement with a hundred people, you can get 100 reasons why not to run it.
It helps to understand what they're saying and why they're saying it.
And it helps to realize that focus groups are unnatural.
Just because something doesn't test well doesn't mean it won't fly.
It could just be a sleeper.
I don't test well at all.
And I can fly. And I don't even wear a cape.
You know what else flies? The CoupleCo podcast, available at www.TheCoupleCoPodcast.com
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Blaine Parker helps people sell their stuff. An advertising Creative Director and Copywriter at Slow Burn Marketing, he specializes in big-brand thinking for small-business marketing. He has the voice of a much taller man.