Super Bowl Sunday & The Battle for Trust
Yesterday was the one day a year Americans give advertisers permission to freely interrupt them. Today we're back to avoiding commercials like the plague–fast forwarding our way through attempts to hijack our attention on television, clicking our way around online ads, and even paying for interruption-free content on Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, and elsewhere.
Interestingly, on this Day of Exception–Super Bowl Sunday–we're not saying, "Go ahead and convince us to buy your product." Rather, we're giving advertisers an opportunity to move us. And they get that. How many commercials attempted to pull at our heart strings? Coca Cola didn't try to convince us their product is superior to Pepsi or coffee; it tried (and failed) to be a societal miracle worker. Anheuser-Busch didn't even mention Budweiser; instead, it called on a puppy to nearly get eaten by a wolf only to be saved by Clydesdales. McDonald's didn't rely on fast food porn; it announced a campaign whereby people pay for their meals with "Lovin'." That's right. Hug mom, get a Big Mac.
None of these ubiquitous corporate behemoths really needed to move us. Millions of people around the world will still consume their products today alone. And again tomorrow. And the day after that. But, let's suppose we have an open mind about these companies. We don't frequently drink Coke products or hit the Mickey D's drive-thru, but we're not above it. What effect, if any, did these interruptions have on us? If the quality of the product is known and not in dispute, and if we give the company our attention for 30-60 seconds, what is at stake?
If we don't know a product, if we don't care one way or the other about it, and especially if we know we don't like it, there is no trust. We have not given that company permission to interrupt us. In such cases, and only on Super Bowl Sunday, the bar is set high. Entertain or move us, or it's really over. Our time and attention are too scarce. Which is why I was particularly impressed by one commercial.
I'm a guy, so I don't buy Always products all that often. By itself, the #LikeAGirl campaign is simple, moving, and important. Juxtapose it with the culminating game of a ferocious sport that has serious female problems of its own and it's even more powerful. As a consumer, I appreciate how Always used my time and attention. I might not rush to the store today to bulk buy its products and I probably won't follow the company on social media, but I've left the door ajar and that requires a little trust.