Blogging Out Loud

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Marketing Touchdowns for the 2014 Highlight Reel

Creating a winning marketing campaign--like crafting a winning football season--takes perseverance, focus, practice, and the commitment to push forward

Marketers, like football coaches, have to anticipate the competition’s moves and be able to adapt their strategy. Marketing is not luck or gut feel or magic. It’s the result of a well-planned, disciplined, step-by-step approach to growing revenue.

“The Catch”, “The Drive”, “The Immaculate Reception” – these are all names given to some of the heart-racing action football plays from the all time highlight reel. To professional marketers such “sports” as branding, integrated campaigns, social media outreach, and analytics can get the pulse pounding nearly as fast as a last second runback to win the game. Like football, marketing is a game of plays and players, of strategy and research, of touchdowns and interceptions, of keeping score, all led by the overarching goal to win the game. Many of the top marketing plays of 2014 were highlight reel quality lead by Blogging Out Loud’s Choice of the Top 3 henceforth known as “The Esurance Twitter Blowout”, “The Target App-etite” and the “Apple Intention YouTube Play”. Like in football, we believe these spectacular successes will incite conversation for years to come.

There’s No Hail Mary Play in Marketing

In 2014, there were some standout brand campaigns that will go down in marketing history the same way the Auburn Tigers versus the Alabama Crimson Tide 2014 game, which ended in astonishing fashion. Trailing by a point with 36 seconds to go, the Tigers lobbed a 73-yard pass that was deflected and still resulted in a game-winning touchdown by Auburn player Chris Davis. (By the next morning, the play was known as “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare”)

It was pretty miraculous. But unlike in football, miracle plays do not exist in marketing. Only well-thought out and perfectly executed plays make it to the marketing highlight reel as is the case for the 2014 Esurance Twitter marketing sweepstakes campaign.  Insurance is a pretty dry topic, which makes this marketing win even more impressive. Immediately following the 2014 Super Bowl, Esurance aired a commercial promoting a Twitter sweepstakes where the winner could win $1.5 Million.

The ad blew up Esurance’s Twitter universe immediately—within 60 seconds after the commercial aired, more than 200,000 people entered. Esurance saw:

  • 4 million uses of the hashtag #EsuranceSave30
  • 4 million hashtag uses in the first hour and 4.5 million in the first 24 hours
  • 6 billion social impressions on Twitter
  • 332,000 views on YouTube
  • 261,000 new followers on the official Esurance Twitter account — an increase of nearly 3,000%
  • A 12 fold spike in visits to the Esurance website in the first hours of the sweepstakes

Future marketing all-pros will one day look back on this brilliant campaign, shake their heads in wonder, and say “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.”

Developing a Successful Game Plan

Know your competition—it’s a vital concept in football. Coaches spend countless hours studying game films, going over the other teams’ plays and diligently breaking down every move with almost obsessive frame-by-frame focus. They have to—the strategy they use depends on nullifying the strengths and exploiting the weaknesses of their opponents. Great coaching staffs are astute to know what the other team is going to do and adjust their plan accordingly. Great marketers, like great coaches, study their competition in much the same way. Their job is to take their brand beyond the competition.

Target's Wish List App allows children to create their own avatar as they go through, selecting gifts for their wish list

The Target Wish List App lets kids create their own avatar and choose gifts from Then parents can instantly share the list with grandma and grandpa, aunties, uncles, friends, and anyone else who asks, “What does Johnny want for Christmas?” launched a brilliant ecommerce marketing campaign this year that would inspire even Vince Lombardi. Knowing that competitors such as Walmart and, to lesser degrees, Sam’s Club, Costco, and Dollar Tree, would have the ubiquitous “bulls-eye” on price, Target has made ecommerce faster, easier, and more convenient with the launch of its free Wish List App. Available on ITunes, the Wish List App lets kids build their holiday lists as they use the app to discover the hottest toys of the season. Parents can easily manage wish lists on the app as well as share instantly with friends and family. Plus, the Wish List App gives 10% off on every toy ordered using it. In one fell swoop Target confirms its brand as the hot and hip discount retailer by bringing the traditional Christmas list into the digital age.

First and Ten. Let’s Do It Again!

In football, all about sustaining the offensive drive. You’ve got three plays to get beyond the 10-yard marker before deciding if the ball needs to be turned over on 4th down. Likewise, one of the keys to a successful social media and digital marketing presence is constantly sustaining your brand’s drive, as it moves your team in a position to score while keeping the competition on the defensive.

Let’s look at Apple as the high tech consumer goods counterpart of the New England Patriots. Love them or hate them, the Patriots have been the most consistent team in the NFL since 2000, racking up 163 wins and 13 winning seasons. That’s 45 percent more wins than the NFL average, and twice as many winning seasons.  Apple has put out consistently good, highly sought-after products with few misses (but they were doozies—the “MobileMe” launch of 2008 comes to mind)

In June, Apple strengthened their branding statement with the “Intention” video

The video scored with 2,000,000 views within the first few days. In it, Apple declares:

“We simplify, we perfect, we start over, until every thing we touch enhances each life it touches.”

Pass the wings and bring it on!

So here we are nearing the end of 2014. The first ever College Football Championship Game will be played on January 12th and Super Bowl XLIX is set for February 1st.

larger people in suits around footballs

In marketing, like football, you must have some goals to strive for. Some of the most common goals relate to performance – visitors, downloads, leads, users, customers – while others aim for engagement – social shares, comments.

These will be exciting games—whether your teams are in the running or not, there’s no denying that almost everyone is a football fan this time of year. And for the marketers who shed blood, sweat, and tears, creating winning strategies that lead your brands to the pinnacle of the marketing game is the championship of their industry. So as we watch who throws the winning touchdown and voice our opinions on which company airs the best commercial during the big game, remember that the start of the 2015 marketing season is almost upon us and with that, a new opportunity to lead your brand to pay dirt.

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays and a great start to the New Year. Blogging Out Loud returns in January.

So what campaigns do you think made biggest scores of 2014? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency. Screen captures intended as illustrative examples only. Registered trademarks and logos are the property of their respective owners.



7 comments on “Marketing Touchdowns for the 2014 Highlight Reel

  1. Tommy Humphreys
    January 9, 2015

    The design on that apple ad is absolutely stunning. I could watch it over and over again.


  2. Pingback: Marketing Touchdowns for the 2014 Highlight Reel | Blogging Out Loud

  3. leighcowan
    December 30, 2014

    Excellent conversation. Completely misleading, but entertaining! 😉
    [Circle plays abound in Marketing, BUT it takes a qualified, specialist strategists to create them, while too many Marketing heads are operational (impromptu) players.]


    • Kim Haman
      January 5, 2015

      Hi Leigh! Thanks for stopping by! Good point about circle plays! Have a terrific day!


  4. Diane
    December 18, 2014

    I also think this shows how much new technology revives “old” tactics. Consumers used to have to mail in entries for sweepstakes and wait forever to see if they won. There was little trust in the whole process. Now everything can be instant. I don’t think the Esurance commercial would have been as successful without the sweeps tactic!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jeffs zen garden
    December 18, 2014

    Great stuff!

    I had not seen this terrific “intention” spot for Apple. Chiat/Day is brilliant as usual and leave it to them to brand the first consumer product with a religious following. This spot is loaded with quasi-spiritual terminology and new age implications. The genius is that it all “feels” sincere and heartfelt. And using the simple lines and dots so effectively in the animation was a clear homage to the brilliant graphic animation work of the late great Saul Bass.

    Here’s to a great Holiday season to everyone at Vertical Marketing Network and here’s to more creative thinking on our garden planet in 2015!


    • Kim Haman
      December 18, 2014

      hi Jeff!
      Thanks for your comment! I hope you have a truly wonderful and fantastic holiday! 🙂


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