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2016 Ad Lessons from the Big Game

stadiumLast Sunday was the national football championship. For football fans, that’s the end of the season and the end of the story. But for the rest of us, especially marketers and business owners, you can learn more about trends and moods from the events surrounding the game than you can from the game itself. What did this year’s ads show us?

If there was one theme of this year’s ads it was fun! From the bizarre Puppymonkeybaby to Scott Baio on display in a future museum and dachshunds in hot dog costumes running towards the ketchup, the most talked about ads all had a sense of fun over message.

That sense of fun included countless celebrities poking fun at themselves, the aforementioned Scott Baio (who doesn’t even get any avocado), Ryan Reynolds, Alec Baldwin, Christopher Walken in a “Walken closet.” When celebrities were used, it wasn’t to push a message or an agenda, it was to show their human side, and the fun side of the brand.

Despite a general trend towards healthier food, the football championship is one time that people let their guard down and eat. According to Time Magazine, 1.3 billion chicken wings are eaten on the day of the big game and only Thanksgiving tops the day for more food eaten.

It’s interesting that given all the focus on having fun and being light-hearted, before the game Cam Newton was criticized for his often joyful touchdown celebrations. Of course, after the game he was equally criticized for leaving his press conference when he was unhappy. Many people see criticism of Newton as having a racist element to it, and although most people found Bruno Mars and Beyoncé’s half time show electrifying, there was certainly race-related controversy over Beyoncé’s choice of songs.

As we enter this highly-charged election year it’s important to remember that while people may be craving a sense of fun and excitement, the more serious issues of our world aren’t going away any time soon.

What were your favorite game-time ads? Do you think the “fun” mood is important in your business?


Marta Segal Block is a social media and content marketing consultant specializing in small-service businesses. You can read more of her work and random thoughts on Advice from Marta and Facebook and follow her on Twitter

Any views, opinions, advice, or endorsements herein are the author(s)’s and are not necessarily the views of Groupon or its partners.

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