It's been a few years since I last watched the Super Bowl live. American football isn't popular in Argentina where I live, and I can't bring myself to go watch it in a crowded bar with other expats.
But every year I've missed it because of being out of the country, I've been able to get the play-by-play on everything in almost real time by hanging out on social media. I know when a team scores. I can get commentary on what calls folks didn't agree with from referees or coaches. I know how my circle feels about the music at the half-time show. And I get an unsolicited detailed run-down of what folks think about plenty of the commercials.
The Super Bowl is a time where people come together to watch a good game, eat, hang out with family and friends, and check out the commercials. It's almost like a mini-holiday. For many, it's an escape from all the serious issues going on in their lives and in the world.
This is why consumers are adamant that they want brands to steer clear of anything with a "deeper message" during the commercials of the big game. The only controversy fans want to focus on is who's team will win, or whether or not there will be enough wings to get through the night.
The appropriate time from companies to deliver a message that goes above the brand
In an online study conducted this month by Morning Consult for The Wall Street Journal's CMO Today, two-thirds of consumers say that the Super Bowl is an inappropriate place for advertisers to make a political statement.
For years, companies have let their voices be heard in the political arena. But much of that activity goes on behind the scenes with companies making donations to campaigns and political parties that advance their agenda.
Over the last couple of years, brands have increasingly begun to inject themselves more heavily into conversations with regards to politics, culture, and societal issues.
There are groups of customers who welcome brands taking a stand and enjoy deepening relationships with companies who share their values. But there are also a number of consumers that wish brands would stick to talking features and benefits, and to shelve talk of topics that are part of the social conversation.
A few months ago, a number of customers were outraged when Nike made former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of one of their campaigns. Many of those fans didn't agree with Kaepernick's politics, or his peaceful protest by kneeling during the national anthem.
Earlier this week, a number of male consumers were angry when Proctor & Gamble's shaving brand Gillette published a short-film designed to rally men to shed toxic forms of masculinity and to be "the best men can be" in practice.
With all the back and forth, many men began to implore Gillette and other brands to stick to marketing, and leave the morality, values, and politics alone.
The key lesson for brands of all sizes to think about delivery. It is still a good idea to take a stand. It is smart to express your values and to lead the way in standing up for causes that are important.
There is, however, a nuance that needs to be struck. Consider your objective as you work through what the appropriate time and place are to deliver your ideas so they will be received.
Is it right to work to compel others to make positive change? Of course it is. Should you make a speech about it in the middle of your cousin's wedding? No, sir.
Take a stand, yes.
Just don't do it during the Super Bowl.
Eat nachos instead. Then get back to advancing your movement the following day.