Unless you are a Seahawks fan, you probably agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a snoozer. For those of us watching the ads more than the game, however, it’s always an exciting evening!
My takeaway from this year’s crop of ads was a little different. A surprising number of brands seemed to be recognizing that their products just simply aren’t interesting to consumers at that moment in time.
At one level, this is obvious. Unless you’re selling beer, soda or salty snacks, the audience for the game just doesn’t care. You’re not relevant to where they are mentally at that moment in time. They are there to watch the game and hang out with friends, not to shop for a new car or change banks.
On the other hand, this speaks to the core value proposition of interruption advertising – if you get the eyeballs of the right people pointed at the screen, your message is valuable.
But what if this just isn’t true? What if the context where the advertisement is shown really does matter?
In the digital world, this is the difference between advertising on Google, where the consumer is actively looking for the thing you’re promoting, and advertising on Facebook, where they want to see what their friends had for breakfast this morning. The engagement level, impression for impression, with Google is much higher than Facebook.
This is true on mass media as well.
Sure, brands have attempted to overcome this with sex, emotional appeals and humor (although I still don’t know what brand the ad with the wacky dog thing was for), but this year, they went for engagement. This year, they used social causes.
When spending millions of dollars per ad, it’s an interesting choice to put something other than your brand front and center in the ad. And each of these brands are putting additional dollars on the table in support of these charities in exchange for engagement from consumers. Every free download of U2’s single, Invisible earned a $1 donation by Bank of America to Red, a charity fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria while Chevy is donating $1 for every person changing their social media profile photos purple on Feb 4th.
These brands aren’t stupid, of course. They’re getting engagement with every donation that allows them to connect with consumers later.
For those of us working in healthcare, we have this same challenge. Most of the time, consumers couldn’t care less about the things that we offer. They’d rather not think about doctors and hospitals.
So how do we take a lesson from these brands that we can apply in our own engagement (without donating our entire marketing budget)?
Understand that many of our communications need to be about things that are relevant to the consumers that we hope to connect with. Every advertisement can’t be about new ways that we can poke and prod them!
Instead, look at talking about more of the things that our organizations do as social causes. Promote wellness services, community health, charity care and the impact that you have on your community. More importantly, find the opportunity to engage with these consumers so that you can build a relationship that you can leverage in the future when they do have an issue or concern that you can help them address.