The Super Bowl Secret No One Told You About

February 25, 2017

Disclaimer: This post is reflective of our company while under the name Pledgeling and the listed information may be outdated. Please refer to our main company website on Pledge for current information and resources.

There's a big secret that was just leaked on the World's Biggest Stage: we are NOW living in an Impact Economy. What your brand stands for is now as important as your product’s features, benefits, and even its price.

Wait, what? What happened?

Coca-Cola, 84Lumber, AirBnB, Audi, and Budweiser were among the impressive list of brands that took calculated risks during their multi-million dollar Super Bowl ads. Instead of promoting their new products or the latest & greatest features (i.e. think Pepsi's Zero Calorie ad), these brands used their platform and positioning to showcase their brand values to the 110 million viewers of Super Bowl LI.

These advertisements and the symbolic pivot that they represent in today's values-driven society will soon overshadow the Pats' heroic victory and the dizzying news cycle that we face each day, as they are among the first in a historic consumer-driven movement to demonstrate how brands are now engaging the hearts and minds of their audiences.

So, what happened in the C-suites, the Madison Avenue creative sessions, and the founders' strategy sessions that drove these companies to take such bold risks?

While much continues to be said about the polarization of America, this is #notaboutpolitics - there is a much bigger shift that's been taking shape over the last several years and gaining significant momentum today. This shift is about demographics - not about the color of one's skin or a country's borders, but about Millennials and the younger Generation Z, who today represent a growing segment of the workforce and who wield over $1.3 trillion in purchasing power (yes, trillion)1.

Raised in an era of big data, hyper-connectivity, real-time everything and economic instability, these audiences are more aware than previous generations about the effects of their consumer decisions. They care deeply about what your brand stands for, how your brand achieves its mission, and your brand’s intentions for making a greater impact in the world.

So, what does this mean for your business and what should you, whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, do - especially if you don’t have a $5m Super Bowl budget?

  • Authenticity = Customer Love: When you stand for something and it's authentic to your brand, customers will reward you when they vote with their wallets. Lyft's recent bold messaging, authentic voice, and public donation has propelled it into the Top 10 of the App Store ahead of top apps like Amazon, Spotify and Youtube - a feat that millions of dollars of marketing could likely never achieve on its own2.
  • Experiences = Customer Loyalty: Whatever your product, service, or brand, today's consumers want to purchase experiences and not just a product. While this experience doesn't have to be tangible (think about the beautiful unwrapping of an Apple product, or the genuine feeling that you’re doing the right thing for your family when you purchase products from Honest Company), the experience that you can facilitate for your consumers when they choose your products is critical to their sense of loyalty and the sustainable, long-term appeal of your offering.
  • Social Impact = Higher Sales: Brands that integrate social impact – through charitable donations and/or a corporate responsibility strategy connected to their mission – experience up to a 20% lift in sales3. Yes, you can do good and do well! From TOMS to Warby Parker to Patagonia to Evite, companies that integrate giving into their mission and use purpose-driven storytelling are building better, sustainable businesses that are also delivering a “double-bottom line” impact to create a better planet.

Now more than ever, your customers, employees, and your competitors are following your brand values and how you act upon them. As the dust settles from this Brand Bowl, it's time to recognize that the old way of engaging with your customers has changed. Courageous brands: think about your company's values, take action to demonstrate them in an authentic and meaningful way, and you will be rewarded with stronger financial results, a more loyal customer base, and a sustainable & positive impact on the world.


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