Super Bowl XLV is today, and you’re invited to join us for #BZBowl 2011 as a great group of cool marketers, branding experts, creative instigators, authors, and pop culture mavens create a running commentary on how brands will be using the biggest advertising, marketing, (and social media?) event of the year.

BZ Bowl Official Start Time

  • 6:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm CST (This is the official broadcast start, although we’ll be tweeting before the game broadcast)

Participating on Twitter with Hashtags

  • To participate in the BZ Bowl, simply add #BZBowl to your tweets.
  • To get your tweet seen in other Super Bowl Twitter streams, you can also use: #BrandBowl, #SuperBowlAds, #SBXLV, or #ADBowl
  • There’s a widget at the bottom of this post to track #BZBowl tweets.
  • Beyond using Twitter, Tweetdeck, or Hootsuite, Tweetchat is a convenient site to log in with the #BZBowl hashtag to track and share your tweets on Super Bowl ads. The great thing about Tweetchat is it automatically adds the #BZBowl hashtag to each tweet so you don’t have to remember.
  • All the #BZBowl tweets will be archived at wthashtag.com.

#BZBowl Participants

Preview Super Bowl Ads Ahead of Time

Going to a Super Bowl Party? Take the #BZBowl Super Bowl Ad Clichés

Continue Reading


#BZBowl 2011 Super Bowl Ad Twitter ChatHard to believe it’s one day until #BZBowl and all the 2011 Super Bowl ads we’ll be tweeting about throughout the game. We invite Brainzooming readers on Twitter to join us for viewing (although it seems like they’ve all been released already), reviewing, and commenting on the 2011 Super Bowl ads Sunday afternoon and evening as part of the #BZBowl! Even if you’re going to be at a Super Bowl party, you can share the occasional tweet and also take along copies of the #BZBowl Super Bowl ads party game instead of fattening chips and dip!

Today’s pre-2011 Super Bowl guest post comes from Dr. Max Utsler, who teaches journalism at the University of Kansas. While I never had him as an instructor, Max has been an incredible inspiration for Brainzooming content. Speaking to one of Max’s communication classes several years ago led to creating the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” presentation and ebook. Last year, a post based on a talk to his class about sponsorship marketing strategy resulted in a high ranking Google post.

With all that, it’s a pleasure to turn today’s Brainzooming  over to Max to share some of the work he’s done on ads and spokespeople as it relates to who we’ll be seeing in this year’s Super Bowl ads:

I don’t know where Peyton Manning plans to spend Super Bowl Sunday. It won’t be the billion dollar JerryDome in Dallas unless he buys a ticket. Nope, his team lost in the first week of the playoffs. But Peyton also won’t be on your TV screen in a Super Bowl ad with any of the seemingly hundreds of commercials he stars in. No DirecTV. No Sprint. No Sony. No Xbox. Sadly, no MasterCard— and those are some of the funniest ads ever produced. While Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest game of the year as far as TV commercials are concerned, Peyton will be on the sidelines. So will most of his fellow current NFL stars. And surprisingly, the rest of the top sports endorsers will also find themselves spectators and not participants in the multi-million dollar television Super Bowl ad extravaganza.

According to a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive, 25% of women and 12% of all 100+ million Super Bowl viewers watch mainly for the commercials. They will see close to 50 minutes of commercials in the game. The audience will see a significant number of celebrities but very few athletes.

I’ve tracked celebrity appearances in Super Bowl advertising for the past four years. The roster of NFL celebs features Troy Aikman, Jimmy Johnson, Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Mike Ditka, Jim McMahon and Howie Long. They all have one thing in common. They’ve all retired from the NFL. Bret Favre, Troy Polamalu and Ray Lewis have at least one Super Bowl ad appearance in the last few years. Tim Tebow appeared in the Focus on the Family commercial last year. That drew quite a reaction, much of it negative.

The NBA’s Dwayne Wade, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal have all popped up in Super Bowl commercials. MLB’s Derek Jeter and Henry Aaron made it to the big show.

Super Bowl advertisers steer away from NFL stars for several reasons:

  • The extraordinary cost of ads in the game stands out. Paying a player to be a pitchman costs big bucks.
  • It’s hard to find time during the season to shoot a fresh spot for the game. And the Super Bowl is all about fresh spots.
  • Advertisers can’t predict which teams are going to have a good season, which players will suffer injuries and which players will become the lightning rods of the media and public opinion (see Exhibit A, Jay Cutler).

As a result sponsoring brands may shy away from using players during this huge event. In their place, Super Bowl sponsors seem eager to upstage each other with creative spectaculars starring furry creatures or to merely maintain their normal advertising message strategy as safer alternatives to NFL pitchmen.

Contrast that to NASCAR and the Daytona 500, often called the Super Bowl of motorsports. On average, more than 15 percent of all Daytona 500 commercials feature one or more NASCAR drivers. While one could suggest it is because those drivers have a contract with a sponsor, their appearances are rarely for their main sponsor. Popular drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart or Kasey Kahne might appear in as many as four different commercials on race day. On average 18 different drivers appear in ads during the 500, and that list comes from a roster of 43 as compared to the more than 1500 NFL players. In at least two of the past four years, more NASCAR drivers appeared in Super Bowl Ads than NFL players.

“In football you’re a fan of the helmet,” said Ken Cohn, vice president of business development for Millsport Motorsports, a Charlotte-based race marketing company. NASCAR is different as fans worship the drivers. “They are seen as more human. They are normal-sized guys driving cars. We can relate to that,” says Cohn.

As I mentioned earlier, celebrities will make significant appearances in this year’s ads: 

  • The e-Trade baby is moving into the superstar category.
  • Look for Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber to team up in a Best Buy spot.
  • What Super Bowl watch party could be complete without a few titillating seconds of that All-American Go-Daddy girl, Danica Patrick. She’ll be joined by Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels. Be still my heart.
  • Roseanne Barr will take over in this year’s Snickers ad, taking over for Betty White, who parlayed her Super Bowl fame from 2010 into another career revival and a guest host stint on Saturday Night Live. I can hear the Snickers already.

The use of celebrities in advertising has long represented a modest upside versus a significant downside.  For every Bill Cosby and Jell-O or Michael Jordan and Gatorade, we find O. J., Tiger, Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen.  The National Beef Council’s spokesman Robert Mitchum died of a heart attack. It replaced him with Cybill Shepherd who the media soon found was a vegetarian.  Upon further review, maybe we’re better off without more celebrities in Super Bowl ads. – Max Utsler

Continue Reading


On Wednesday, Barrett Sydnor shared the “Cracking the Ad Code” model he’ll be using this year to evaluate Super Bowl advertising. As one reader emailed last night, the model has a lot of elements to think about with a Super Bowl ad when you’re attending a Super Bowl party.

Great point!

So for those looking for a little simpler Brainzooming approach to following along with Super Bowl ads, we created a party version of the #BZBowl game. You can download and print out these #BZBowl party game sheets (there are 20 different sheets in the PDF), and the first time one of the Super Bowl ad clichés on your sheet is used, you receive the associated score in that quarter (or during half time).

Pass the sheets out at your party and give out prizes to the party guests who have the sharpest eyes for clichés and score the most points overall and during each time period.

Sorry though, you’ll have to supply the prizes.

And while you’re at it, join us live on Twitter, with the Super Bowl XLV broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. CST this Sunday, February 6, 2011. Share your opinions on Super Bowl ads by including #BZBowl in your tweets before, during, and after the game! – Mike Brown

Continue Reading


The Super Bowl has long been the sporting event of the year.  Over time, it has also become the biggest advertising event of the year.  Numerous major brands launch campaigns during Super Bowl, catapulting the price of a 30-second spot to around $3 million.

Social media, however, is starting to challenge the nature of Super Bowl advertising.  According to a recent survey from Lightspeed Research, a unit of WPP’s Kantar, 18% of people will look up ads online with smartphones on Super Bowl Sunday.  So, the internet has definitely became an integral part of Super Bowl advertising, and smart brands are learning how to leverage social media to make their ad campaigns work that much harder.

The shout out for the “smartest” brand in this area must go to Old Spice.  It’s an old brand that has been revitalized and reborn from the Super Bowl campaign Old Spice ran last year.  In an effort to improve sales, Old Spice launched The Old Spice Guy campaign that targeted men and “their ladies.”  (After all, the ladies are the ones shopping the aisle.)  The campaign launched with traditional tactics such as television commercials and print ads, plus online display banner ads.  On top of it all, there were Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube components. These tactics were designed to work together and reinforce each other.  This is what nirvana looks like for an integrated marketing campaign with both traditional and new media:  The Old Spice Guy from TV replies to tweets via YouTube videos!

The results say it all:

  • The campaign achieved 1.4 billion impressions.
  • Video views were 40 million per week.
  • Sales increased double digits.
  • Market share grew, challenging for segment leadership.

I haven’t even got to the smartest part of this whole campaign – this Super Bowl campaign DIDN’T INCLUDE a $3 million Super Bowl ad! The television commercial was released around the Super Bowl.  Then, the marketers bought key search terms.  So, when the 18% of people looked up “Super Bowl ads” online, they found have the Old Spice Guy!

It was genius!

And it called for a second act from the Old Spice Guy.

This year, all the forums for the Old Spice Guy to engage with fans have already been set up from the prior year.  Old Spice Guy is already posting on Facebook.  Tweets are flying.  Teasers are on YouTube.  It’s reported that a fan will have his/her own ad, and it will debut on Super Bowl Sunday.  The new Old Spice Guy TV commercial will start running on February 7, the day after Super Bowl Sunday, though I have no doubt that if you search for “Super Bowl Ads”, you will find the Old Spice Guy. – Jeannie Chan

This guest post was written by #BZBowl participant, Jeannie Chan. Jeannie is a passionate brand manager, who’s fueled by intellectual curiosity and caffeine.  While Jeannie has been a marketer for nearly a decade, each day still brings her new challenges.  She keeps tracks of it all on her blog CuriousMarketeer.com.

Continue Reading


Super Bowl ad “best of” lists tend to rely on one of three perspectives:

While these lists are often entertaining and the comments potentially insightful, they generally lack any objective criteria that allow you to apply the success or failures of Super Bowl ads to your own situation.

In an attempt to provide criteria, last year #BZBowl, sponsored by The Brainzooming Group, used ratings from the SUCCES (Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional, Stories) model the Heath Brothers explained in their book on effective communication, Made to Stick.  While this raised the Super Bowl ad analysis above “I liked it ‘cause I thought it was funny,” I’m not sure that an ad that hit on multiple parts of the SUCCES criteria is any better than one that hit really well on only one criteria.

In their book, however, the Heaths cite research on advertising creativity from a group of Israeli social scientists. That research showed award winning ads nearly always make use of a rather short list of tools. The researchers’ subsequent book, Cracking the Ad Code, describes the eight tools and two complementary principles present in nearly every ad professionals judge as award winning and audiences describe as “creative.”

Briefly, the eight tools are:

  • Unification – using an element of the medium or in its vicinity to deliver the message.
  • Activation – using the viewer as a resource to reveal the message.
  • Metaphor – exploiting symbols or cognitive frameworks that already exist in the mind of the viewer to deliver the message.
  • Subtraction – excluding an element of the medium considered to be indispensible.
  • Extreme Consequence – presenting an extreme—sometimes negative—situation that happens as a result of using the product.
  • Extreme Effort – depicting the absurd lengths a consumer will go to obtain a product or the extreme lengths a company will go to in order to please a consumer.
  • Absurd Alternative – showing a possible, though highly outlandish and impractical, alternative to the product being offered.
  • Inversion – suggests how horrible the world would be without the advertised product.

The two complementary principles are Fusion and Closed World:

  • Fusion involves melding the symbol for something, its story, and the product or brand you are advertising. If your story is connection and your product is a telecommunications, the fusion is your logo becomes the world, i.e. ATT.
  • Closed World uses symbols or ideas from the actual world of the product. E.g. detergents would use clothes, stains, washing machines, not flowers, sunshine and mountaintops.

Ads employing Fusion and Closed World are judged more creative.

So for this year’s #BZBowl, The Brainzooming Group will track Super Bowl ads to see which ads employ  these tools and principles. We will also look at a sampling of “best of” lists to see if use of those tools match up with the ads on those lists. Look for our #BZBowl analysis recap mid-week following the Super Bowl.

Remember, if you want to tweet your thoughts live on which Super Bowl ads are good, better, best (or even crappy), include the #BZBowl hashtag in your tweets and join us for the smart, intimate, and conversational Super Bowl ad chat before, during, and after the Super Bowl this Sunday, February 6, 2011!Barrett Sydnor

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming at gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Continue Reading


Last week was my week to attend events. Beyond the Southwest Airlines social media program, I hit the KAIROS Web Analytics dinner on voice of the customer and the Kansas City IABC breakfast. At the breakfast, Scott Burditt of Two West shared his perspectives on personal branding. Scott offered five personal branding tips tied closely to his experience in business branding:

1. Serve others first – People care about you relative to your ability to help them, so figure out what you’re going to do for them!

2. Promise something bold and unique – Make sure other peoples’ experiences of you stand out, just as any successful business brand has to do, with a distinct promise. Scott suggests trying to determine what problem you want to solve as an important part of your personal branding strategy. Then, put your whole promise in 8 words, so you people won’t quit paying attention while you try to communicate it!

3. Prove it – You have to demonstrate to people you have the chops to back up your bold, unique promise. Scott recommends identifying 7 stories from your career and life to illustrate and support the personal brand promise you are seeking to own.

4. Innovate (Yourself) – Innovation isn’t simply for companies. As individuals, we have to be ready to anticipate and change ourselves in ways that might at first seem very unusual, unconventional, or uncomfortable (or all of these).

5. Connect, Be Visible – Scott urged each person to find the right way to share their personal brand, especially through social media. He was nice enough to give a shout out to the Brainzooming blog for the effort to be consistent with daily posts!

In the Q&A section, Scott advised organizations which want to create brand promises that can stand up for many years to root the promise’s payoff in an emotional connection, not in what the organization DOES.

Finally, in a great closing element, Scott challenged each person to take on one action item for their personal brand in the next week. For those who provided contact information, Scott promised to contact them to help hold them accountable for their action item.

That’s a personal branding promise which  people aren’t likely to forget soon!  – Mike Brown

If you’d like to add an interactive, educationally-stimulating presentation on strategy, innovation, branding, social media or a variety of other topics to your event, Mike Brown is the answer. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how Mike can get your audience members Brainzooming!

Continue Reading


Southwest Airlines Communication Specialist Laurel Moffat spoke on the airline’s successful social media strategy at a January 25 Kansas City American Marketing Association lunch event. While the presentation was overly heavy on how many fans and followers Southwest Airlines has, underneath, there were many beneficial insights and lessons only a brand experienced in social media can provide. The great thing was Laurel’s social media lessons apply to smaller organizations as well:

Big or Small, “Listen and Personalize” Is Fundamental

Laurel’s recommendation was “listen first,” which is a fundamental lesson for any organization. Listening provides an understanding of content that’s meaningful and appropriate for your audiences. Once you get active, it’s important to personalize audience experiences. Some ways Southwest does this:

  • Team members handling Facebook duties sign their names to their responses.
  • Southwest tries to share “real” content on topics customers are thinking about relative to flying.
  • It encourages localization, with 20 local station Facebook pages covering specific Southwest airport operations groups.

Social Media Takes People, but Not as Many as You Think

Southwest Airlines is HUGE online:

  • 12 million monthly visits to its website
  • 1 million Twitter followers
  • 1.3 million Facebook likers
  • 29,000 reviewers on its Travel Guide

So how many people does it take to handle that volume of activity?

Try 5.

Yup, 5 people are in the Southwest Airlines emerging media group. The Southwest Airlines presence is monitored 24/7, including hourly check-ins during normal sleeping hours, with 2 people typically trading off responsibilities on major outposts.

So yes, it takes people to keep a social media effort going. If 5 people can monitor and manage it for a multi-billion corporation though, your much smaller organization doesn’t need an army to accomplish its objectives.

There Are Huge Opportunities in a Collaborative Social Media Strategy

With all the content Southwest Airlines creates to keep its presence fresh, a collaborative approach is vital.  Some collaborative examples that serve as lessons for everyone else:

  • There’s internal collaboration: marketing creates the feel for its social media channels, and the communications team (through its emerging media group) drives content. The legal and investor relations departments are also closely involved.
  • All emerging media team employees complete customer service training to ensure they are well-prepared to address customer questions and issues directly and expeditiously.
  • Southwest Airlines works with outside partners as well, including Kansas City-based VML and Buddy Media.
  • Southwest reaches out specifically to influencers: travel bloggers, brand fanatics, avid travelers, and importantly, employees all contribute content.
  • To increase broader employee involvement, Southwest organized an internal social media conference (BlogCon) in January 2011 to bring employee contributors into Dallas for overviews and training on social media and content creation (plus receiving Southwest Airlines-logoed Flip cameras). This is in addition to sponsoring a social media club within the company.

Oh, and About that Kevin Smith Deal

Without a doubt, the customer service and social media teams have to be linked. It can be very formal, but at a minimum, the communication channels and protocols need to be set. If nothing else, the Kevin Smith meltdown emphasized that important lesson. Laurel talked about the February 2010 situation in her presentation.

During Q&A, I asked about the degree of direct interaction between people monitoring social media channels and gate agents. In the Kevin Smith case, it seemed Smith was allowed to cool his heels for some time while tweeting with increasing fervor (and furor). Laurel said gate agents do get social media training and are taught that any customer incident can blow up dramatically through social media channels.

Even Veteran Players Don’t Know What Will Get Attention

Undisputed facts:

  • Southwest Airlines has been in social media since 2006 when it launched its blog.
  • It stepped up into Twitter and Facebook in 2007.
  • Southwest Airlines has an award-winning, significant presence.

All true, but you want to know my favorite comment of the day from Laurel?

Southwest Airlines is surprised by what videos on its YouTube site get the most views. One example? Its engine cleaning video is right near the top. For anyone continually baffled by what social media content gets viewed and shared, it’s comforting to know even the big guys can be left guessing!

Social Media Doesn’t Fix Bad Brands, but It Sure Benefits Already Great Ones

More undisputed facts:

  • Southwest Airlines is a strong brand.
  • It got into social media before it had everything figured out (it didn’t have a formal policy until the past year).
  • It’s had a few stumbles along the way, but it sees clear positives and high regard for its effort.

If not for Southwest being a strong brand already, getting into social media and having some stumbles could have been disastrous.

Lesson for everybody else: Fix your brand first, and then worry about fixing any inadequacies in your social media strategy.


If you were in Kansas City and didn’t make it out to this event, you should be kicking yourself. Thanks to Laurel and the Kansas City American Marketing Association for making this informative presentation happen!  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

Continue Reading