Privacy vs Security

The Declaration of Independence declares that all beings living within the United States have certain “unalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  But, through the recent years, the ever-so-controversial debate between privacy vs security is encroaching on our liberties as people and as citizens of the United States.

Ashkan Soltani, an independent security researcher, states “The NSA has this fetish for data, and will get it any way they can, and get as much as they can,” he said. “But old ladies who hoard newspapers say the same thing, that someday, this might be useful.”  It can be said that September 11, 2001 was the turning point for privacy and security in the United States.  With the existential threat of terrorism on our soil, the most important job of the government became to “secure the general welfare” of its citizens.  October 1 of 2001, George W. Bush signed the USA PATRIOT ACT which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.  This act largely allowed the government to actively watch and follow threats to national and international security without the knowledge or approval of the individual being watched.  “The government feels like they need all this information in order to do its job, that there can’t be security without them having access to everything. Well, that’s a lazy or shortsighted way of seeing things,” Soltani says. “The idea I reject is that you need to violate everyone’s privacy rather than be better at your job of identifying specific (targets).”

“You can’t have 100 percent security and also have 100 percent privacy,” President Obama said on June 7 in his address to the nation.  Surveillance is thought of as a method of protection.  Through the years, old fashioned spy craft was used to locate and surveil a target.  The FBI, CIA, local police, or other governmental agency would stake out a potential target to watch their movements, see who they are meeting with, take note of their daily routines, etc.  They would stake out one “target,” not two or ten thousand or ten million.  Today, you must think on a larger scale.  Think of the FBI agents as computer bots that are allowed to search and filter through thousands and thousands of lines of data in a matter of a seconds.  The NSA took this in stride and take advantage of the huge amounts of data being collected by companies around the globe by gaining access each individual system both legally and illegally.  They promptly labeled everyone as a potential terrorist (or target), allowing them to collect data on citizens for matter of prevention of terrorism.

Edward Snowden, now known as an NSA Whistle Blower, previously worked for the CIA and was a consultant for the NSA.  He is known for leaking thousands of classified documents because of his outrage with some of the NSA’s global surveillance programs.  “I took an oath to support and defend the constitution and what I saw was the constitution being violated on a massive scale,” he said in his video conference call at SXSW.  Snowden approached two reporters Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald who eventually leaked the classified documents provided by Snowden through their press channels.  The files shed light to the complete nature of the USA’s global surveillance network — one that works for the mass collection of private conversations and metadata.  Conversations, text messages, and emails are just the beginning. “Metadata is what allows an actual enumerated understanding, a precise record of all the private activities in all of our lives. It shows our associations, our political affiliations and our actual activities,” said Snowden via the Amnesty International Video Call.  Some call him a hero others a traitor, but Snowden opened the public’s eyes to a major problem for our security and privacy as individuals, the potential affects this collection could have on us, and the absolute power given to the US Intelligence community.

“The problem is when overseers aren’t interested in oversight,” Snowden said at SXSW.  If the people in power feel as though they can do whatever they would like the checks and balances within the government have failed.  Lincoln’s idea of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has no longer been upheld, but rather the people become pawns in a bigger government bureaucracy.  The Constitution, Bill of Rights and their previsions were put into effect to protect the rights and liberties of people within a free nation.  We are no longer free.  “We can’t have a government that has no oversight. We can’t have an intelligence community that can do whatever the hell they want,” Paul Rand said at the Freedom Summit, a gathering of grassroots conservatives hosted by the groups Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity.  So where do we draw the line between security and privacy?

It’s hard to say.  The government’s roll is to protect its citizens, create opportunity, and provide services for the greater good.  Does security come first, privacy last, or visa versa?  We must heed the actions of Edward Snowden, take notice of the illegalities, and promote change to encourage national security, anonymity, and individual freedom.  If we believe that it is a bigger beast than we can handle and simply give up, we have lost the battle.  With technological innovation, surveillance will continue to get more and more sophisticated, and our entire lives will live within our digital footprint.  If nothing else, be educated and understand the power of your government and the programs that they have instituted.  Read, question, analyze, and share your thoughts.  This is the beginning to important modification and advancement to our national and international security protocols.



There’s a famous saying, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”  Recently at SXSW, Julian Assange said via a video conference – “People are products sold to advertisers”.

Can you remember the Motorolla Razr, the iMac G3 computer, and dial up internet?  The power of technology and its application within the world have expanded into a global phenomenon.  Some big questions arise — What data are companies collecting? What data is the government taking?  How is our information being bought and sold?  What does our digital footprint look like?  Why is our privacy so important?

The term “big data” may seem simple in its origins, but in practice its connotations are extremely complex.  Data is a term that we, as consumers, have learned to accept.  Big data, as referred to by McKinsey, “is datasets whose size is beyond the ability of a typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze” (McKinsey 1).  The sheer volume of data is a global phenomenon.  Our motions are tracked on a global scale by companies that produce thousands of reports based on our likes, dislikes, personal interactions, and habits.  Many people are suspicious of big data, as many believe that it has invaded on our personal privacy, but many studies show that big data has and will continue to be a big part of our world.

“Many pioneering companies are already using big data to create value, and others need to explore how they can do the same if they are to compete” (McKinsey 2).  Organizations in many different industries can leverage big data to increase productivity, innovate, create, and envision.  It can also help consumers benefit through brand transparency and accountability.  Data has initiated a race within the competitive marketplace around the world “becoming a key way for leading companies to outperform their peers” (McKinsey 6).  Ultimately, big data has created brand value.

Non-technologically oriented people do not understand what tracking, data, or the Internet is.  I once asked someone “what is the first thing you think of when I say the word ‘internet’?”  They responded, “Google”.  Google is a search engine. A search engine is a tool that takes the vast expanse of the Internet, organizing and categorizing it so that we as consumers have better access to all information stored.  Google uses tracking and data to map the interconnectedness of the Internet.  Mapping humans’ movements and interactions is no easy task.  Humans are incredibly complex creatures, each with individualized goals and motivations.  Data analysts work to collect data on a specific a target audience, analyze it, and create data models that are used to create larger datasets and projections.  Data models are by no means always correct, but they give critical insight into how we work as individuals and consumers.  When companies originally started to collect data, much of it was by hand.  Today, all of the big companies in big data use automated algorithms to collect and to analyze these large datasets.  There are a variety of ways in which companies can track us as users.  Some computer bots can run crawling algorithms to collect and analyze data from a variety of different online resources.  These bots can be used internally to spot inconsistencies and recognize patterns.  Additionally bots can be used as an external resource used to analyze your competitors data, search public databases, and compile a plethora of data into easily understandable numbers.  Additionally, companies use packets of computer code called cookies that tag and track users and each user’s online movements.  They are designed to track each click, time spent, and the effectiveness of certain online ads.  Cookies are a great resource for advertisers and marketers who want to have accurate and real time data about their audience, but they also pose certain security and privacy concerns that have been voiced by the online community.  While cookies and other ways of internet tracking may seem superfluous many times encroaching on peoples privacy, the truth is that it allows brands to deliver more personalized and more authentic brand experiences to their users.

“Enterprises are collecting data with greater granularity and frequency, capturing every consumer transaction, attaching more personal information, and also collecting more information about consumer behavior in many different environments.  This activity simultaneously increases the need for more storage and analytical capacity” (McKinsey 21).  Global giants like Google and Facebook run the internet with their collection of big data.  Offering premiere services for free presents each company with a dilemma.  How will we make money in a capitalistic economy while ensuring that our users and content providers don’t feel their privacy is getting thrown by the wayside?  Data collection allows global giants, websites, and companies to accurately and effectively reach their consumer target.  Advertisers — the only companies willing to spend money for exposure — can tag onto and plug into incredibly huge, complex, and accurate databases of information on consumers.  This allows brands and advertisers to produce financial and consumer models using sophisticated computer algorithms and highly skilled teams to collect, analyze, and produce personal and company “profiles” used in marketing, advertising, and consumer outreach.  These profiles are complex and detailed — sometimes containing more than 300 data points per individual.  Big data is not only a tool used in consumer analysis, but a powerful engine of competition and growth for brands.  Forward-thinking companies within each industry should not be thinking about how to make big data bigger, but rather affect policy that will make data more useful to brands and protect the rights and privacy of the consumer.  With a solid system for intellectual property rights, brands must ensure that their hard work is celebrated and personal innovation honored.  A perfect balance is essential to guarantee that brands are free to use data and capture its full potential and that consumers don’t fear brands for reasons of privacy or personal security.



“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”  Pablo Picasso speaks the words of a true artist, one who did not allow society to make him deviate from his own personal drive to be a creative being.  Our society doesn’t encourage creativity, nor approve of it.  Society tends want people to live a normal life.  Graduating from college provides young consumers with an easy way out by encouraging a ‘fast money’ and a ‘keeping up with the joneses’ kind of lifestyle.  This is the exact reason why so many people experience a mid-life crisis, finding themselves miserable, burnt out, and lost.  Charles Mingus says, “Creativity is more than just being different.  Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy.  What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach.  Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”  Many times in today’s world, there is no time allocated for real thinking.  The pressure to produce more and more content cuts into the creative mind and distracts us from a real innovative product vision.  When you allow creativity to prosper, you inspire yourself and those around you.  Creativity is at the forefront of advertising.  Creativity inspires us, moves us and directs us.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” says famous poet William Butler Yeats.

In a world where creativity is frowned upon, we must find ways to engage our creative selves, allowing our “creative juices” to flow.  I believe that the forefront of our failure as creative individuals lives within our education system.  In his TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson claims “we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”  Let me explain. From a young age we are curious individuals.  As children, we love to experience, discover, and explore new and unique things — from digging in the dirt to painting our latest imaginary creature.  Our brains are wired from birth to focus and develop our creative capacity as human beings.  Standardized education, within the United States, takes creative individuals and works to normalize the type of education that everyone receives.  One of the goals of the standardized education system is to support the capitalistic notions of money and power we are so reliant on.  We are training our children to be proficient in left brain activities such as reading, writing, and mathematics, but are failing with right brain activities such as how to think, how to respond, how to adapt, and how to work within a team of equally talented individuals.

After almost 16 years in school, I believe schooling revolves too much around a left brained approach to learning. Many times, students are not required to think about or engage with topics critically to develop and discover their own educated opinions, but rather are fed information via a semester worth of poorly designed Powerpoints.  While I struggled in many left brained subjects like math and science, Advertising presented a way for me to combine creativity with business and technology to apply the things I learned in school to my career.  Advertising, technology, and photography are vehicles by which my creativity thrives.  For me, my discovery of Advertising and design have steered me towards my real potential as a individual.  “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status,” Robinson says.  By adding a more creative curriculum into our public schools, our children will be able to actively engage with the world at large at a younger age.  This would enable and encourage young adults to not only solve world problems, but additionally find ways to make money and innovate through creative design, business, and artistic means.

Change is beneficial – we are in the midst of a period of profound technological innovation.  New media are created, dispersed, and adopted into culture at incredibly fast rates.  Every major idea, image, brand, or relationship will continue to play themselves out across a broad set of media channels.  Media are becoming bigger and bigger, beginning to reach a global capacity.  A global reach allows media content to flow smoothly across international borders thus allowing brands to gain a wider audience.  The global scale of the media landscape changes the way that we interact with each other, content, and the world.  As the advertising world increasingly gravitates toward new media, there’s been a wave of creative new marketing strategies that may or may not have proven successful.  For new media advertising, creativity is the key.  Outstanding creative leaders don’t work toward uncompromising creative standards; they truly create a culture of excellence and innovation.

I need your approval

We have found the perfect way to define ourselves as people.  Social and cross platform digital media are used as tools to create a digital representation of oneself, a digital footprint.  Lets take a quick look at Instagram’s digital politics.

With the arrival of online social media, interaction face-to-face between people has become increasingly rare.  The introduction of social networks into the social landscape allows relationships around the world to flourish, changing the way that we fundamentally communicate as humans.  In principle, a global social network not only connects people faster and easier than ever before, but makes word of mouth a dominant social ideology.  Corporations and brands now had a way to personally interact with their consumers and consumers a way to interact with the brand.  Publicly available consumer data was refined and finally accurate.  Successful brands must become the consumer, not just sell to them.  Social media has changed the way that we view and produce content.

Instagram is the epitome of modern communication.  According to Instagram’s press blog, there are 150 million active users per month, 55 million photos posted per day, and 1.2 billion likes per day.  In just a few clicks and a tag, we can categorize ourselves within rigid definitions. We are obsessed.  We’re obsessed with intercommunication and overstimulation and are constantly looking for the approval of others — another follow, another like.  We consistently create and curate content based on others opinions.  We are prisoners to our peers.

We engage in “Reactive Storytelling” defined by Ross Simmonds as, “the intentional integration of a top of mind story or idea with a compelling marketing message that your audiences finds relevant and compelling.  When a business uses Reactive Storytelling they are able to leverage a human truth or an insight to generate instant feedback.”  In short, we define our digital media footprint, posting images and statuses based on the approval of our peers.  But, businesses aren’t the only culprits of refining and defining themselves through Reactive Storytelling.  Reactive storytelling doesn’t just influence the way we shape our profiles online, but has begun to guide our interests and activities within the physical world.  With the expediency of this medium, Instagram has become a tool for documenting virtually everything about a persons life from their last trip to the zoo to what they had for dinner — a vegan apple and avocado salad with a crushed almond puree.  Instagram has become an app for multiple dynamic and interconnected communities.  This digital footprint of ones life is a gift and a curse.

“You get more explicit and implicit cues of people being happy, rich, and successful from a photo than from a status update [on Facebook],” says Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University Berlin, co-author of the study on Facebook and envy. “A photo can very powerfully provoke immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. You don’t envy a news story” (source:  You wouldn’t look through an Instagram newsfeed while your drinking with your friends at a bar or out to dinner?  I would hope not.  People tend to explore these social sites when they are bored, lonely, or dissatisfied with themselves or their lives.  In actuality, everyone’s life looks better within their internet social sphere and is full of partial truths.  Consumers are becoming brands themselves making others question and compare their lives.  Choosing to take part in a social movement such as Rich Kids of Instagram objectifies and materializes our culture only furthering people from their personal aspirations.  Envy becomes motivation to pursue materialistic wealth instead of passion.

Don’t take this the wrong way though.  Social media, including Instagram, are incredibly powerful tools.  Tools that when used right, can provide incredible utility for your individual and business brands.  I would like to offer a warning.  Don’t let the technological media landscape take over and define your life.  Instead, use it to help you and inspire you creatively, share your passions, and refine your style, but not completely change it.  As said in Fast Company, “If you get bored with social media it’s because you are trying to get more value than you create.”  We must take technology in stride, using it to build communities of inspired individuals instead of delicately curated images of ourselves.

As Sean Gardner, Forbes #1 Social Media Power Influencer, said “Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.”

Passion as a tool for the successful

As I make my transition into the “real world” I, like thousands of other college students, am faced with the question “What are you going to do after college?” And like so many others, my answer is complicated.

Let me orient you.  4 years ago was a hard time for the job market.  A national recession made the unemployment rate skyrocket, especially among teens and college grads which additionally caused millions and millions of people to lose their jobs, investments, and savings.  Choosing to go to college was a no-brainer.  If I was going to compete in an over-saturated job market, I needed to get an education.  The problem was that I went into college having no idea what I wanted to do – whether I wanted to be an engineer, a scientist, or a philosophist.  But I believe that college is there to help you do exactly that, steer you in the right direction.

To steer means to “control the direction that something moves.”  I started college as a freshman in environmental biology, but quickly learned that was not for me – there was no passion, no drive, no motivation to succeed.  I needed something fresh, something dynamic, something modern.  I had always understood and was good at learning things related to technology, so the need to be involved in media was an obvious choice.  I chose to get involved in photography/advertising/design and it changed my outlook on the world.

So my answer is: a passion project.

Passion is a hard thing to come by in this day and age.  A person that is truly happy, passionate, and inspired by their work is an innovator, a dreamer.  Dreamers are the people who believe they cannot only succeed themselves, but help others succeed in the process.  Dreamers are the fools of today and leaders of tomorrow.  But let me clarify one thing, I am not talking about daydreaming — vision without action — or chaos — action without vision — but rather talking about dreamers — those who are empowered enough to organize the chaos, plan the dream, and produce the art.  Easier said than done, right?  I know that it is well within the reach of each and every one of us.  There is room in each and every professional field if you are willing to put in the time.  A master must be a dreamer.  10,000 hours… Malcom Gladwell says 10,000 hours is the approximate amount of time you must put in to master a skill.  You would be crazy to spend 10,000 hours doing something you absolutely hate.

So, find your passion.  But first, ask yourself whether you are willing to fail and get shot down, because you will.  Are you ready to be discouraged, beat down, and tired, because you will.  But most importantly, are you willing to forge through to become extraordinary? Because passion projects aren’t for those content with “good”.  Passion projects are for the people willing to go head-on into the unknown, ready to face every obstacle in their path.

Go on young Skywalker, conquer the world.

The Truth

“Content is king” is an overused term, but has an underlying truth to it.  Consumers, whether they are young or old, are always on the look for quality and compelling content.  But content is more than just another cat video, shared content is an extension of a persons’ individual brand, personal image, and relays their personal character to the rest of the world.  So, it is no surprise that people are selective with what they share within their networks.  “The consumer is shockingly educated” says Wat Tyler, Account Manager at Ultimate Software.  The internet has created a way to easily access accurate information faster than ever before.

As William Bernbach perfectly articulated, “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.”  In an information era, truth is the single most important aspect of successful advertising.  Truth creates credibility; truth creates sustainability; truth creates success.  Truth can make or break a brand.  As businesses, we must accept that consumers are educated not only about the intricate workings of your company, but of your competitors.  How does a company sell a product or service in a sea of equally viable competitors?  Tyler says, “Companies must create value for the consumer.”  Companies can’t control the knowledge of the consumer, so companies must evolve to be responsive, creating value for consumers that can’t be found elsewhere.  Companies are required to be knowledgeable and accountable.  If, as a company, you don’t know the intricate details of your market, your company will simply be tossed aside and wiped out.

“If content is king, then distribution is queen” (source: Forbes).  Choosing the right channel requires incredible amounts of man power, time, and research.  Marketing and advertising channels have continued to evolve, moving from print to web to mobile.  While the quality of the content provided is crucial to a companies success, the content only becomes relevant if, and when, a company learns how to correctly distribute it.  The final medium by which a company disseminates their message directly reflects the target audience and provides a brand image/message to all consumers.  Successful companies know their audience and the mediums through which they must advertise to get the most exposure.

Know your content.  Know your audience.  Know your distribution channels.

Taking advantage of mobile

Nearly one in five millennials only use a smartphone—no laptop, no desk computer (source: MediaPost).

The debate around mobile advertising and the effectiveness thereof is multifaceted and complex.  Just a few years ago, when the Apple first came out with the app store, app and game developers were entering into a new world.  This new, exciting world brought incredible ways to make money and connect with a global audience never seen or experienced by developers before.  Competition was slim, users were excited, and companies were taking advantage of the mobility, interactivity, and big data.  Now, just a few years later, the scope is much bigger.  With over a billion apps on the app store, competition is incredibly high, the marketplace saturated, and data has made app development companies valued at billions of dollars, higher than magazines or newspapers that have been around for 50 or a 100 years.

The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007 and with that came the Apple App store.  In just 6 short years, mobile technology has made huge strides.  Now with the iPhone 5s, we have a small computer in our pockets — running true 64 bit processing, containing a 8 megapixel camera, and a retina display.  Over 60% of Americans now have smartphones (source: MarketingLand).  So it is no wonder that in 2012, the mobile industry was worth $53 billion and expected to rise to $143 billion in 2016 (source: Vision Mobile).  Mobile App companies are making incredible amounts of money, inconceivably fast.

Downloading an app tells a story.  Each time we download an app, we reveal a little bit about ourselves – our habits, our inspirations, our passions.  Just by looking at a person’s phone, you can tell whether they are a cook, a hiker, a technology geek, a social creature.  For many Americans, the smartphone is the center of their life. Mary Meeker tells us that we check our phones 150 times a day, between apps, voice calls, texts, and utilities (source: Business Insider).  This is a huge market to tap into.

For mobile app companies, the most important aspect of their business is their users.  There is a direct correlation between user acquisition and revenue.  Kevin Schaum, Advertising Operations Manager at Backflip Studios, believes knowing the value of a user is one of, if not the most, important part of an app company.  If you don’t know the value of a user, then you don’t know how much to spend on user acquisition.  Spending greater than the value of that user on user acquisition could potentially be detrimental to a start-up business as they could become ROI negative on a multi-million dollar ad spend.

In the beginning, it was popular to sell mobile apps for .99 cents or $1.99 — I’m going to call this the “one-time purchase model.”  Sure, maybe users would throw $1.99 at an app, but because it was a one-time purchase, companies could not make more than $1.99 per user.  This meant that the value of a user was $1.99.  This also meant that the maximum amount a company was able to spend on per user basis was $1.99 or less.   Companies quickly learned that the one-time purchase model was not an effective way of making money.

Companies quickly moved to a “freemium” model.  A freemium model allows users to download and play apps completely free of charge, but they may have to wait. They may have to wait for characters, for missions, or for time for things to grow or harvest — such as crops in Farmville, buildings in Megapolis, or additional level-based content in Clash of the Titans.  So, if the app is free to download, how does a mobile app company make money?  In-app purchases take the place of app purchases.  In-app purchases allow users to speed up the game for a small amount of in-game currency.  For game developers, Schaum says, in-app purchases are the primary source of revenue.  Even though only a small percentage of people actually take part, you can make more average money on a per-user basis than if you were to release the game in its entirety for only .99 cents.  This small percentage of users may be willing to spend $2 per day to play and even though money is only spent by a few people, the average value of a user goes up.  Additional average value of a user allows app companies to spend more than a one-time purchase price of $1.99 on user acquisition.  At this time maybe the average value of a user goes up to $5 which means app companies are maybe willing to spend upwards of $4 to get a new user.  “User acquisition is more expensive than ever,” Schaum explains.

User acquisition is a hurdle that every tech company has to jump over.  Without users, products are virtually useless.  App companies must create value for consumers.  Execute well, then refine, refine, refine until you’re product serves your users perfectly.

Sources: MediaPost; Forbes; Vision Mobile; Business Insider

A Social Bowl


Some people JUST watch the Super Bowl for the advertisements.  Well isn’t that a brands creative dream — so much social publicity….that a $4M TV ad just made your company back their money 10 fold.

Over the years, the Super Bowl has traditionally been know for its ads.  These ads are produced by the top agencies in the world, such as TBWA Chiat/Day, CP+B, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Weiden + Kennedy, by the top creative teams.  It’s a race.  A race to be the best creative brand that reaches virality.  So why are Super Bowl ads like this?

Well, there are a few factors that come into play when a company decides to plan, produce, and run a Super Bowl spot.  First, your company must assess whether taking the leap to advertise during the Super Bowl is right business move to make because it’s not for everyone.  A Super Bowl spot can make or break a brand and people are bound to talk about it.

I want to touch on a group I’m going to call the “regulars.”  The “regulars” are made up of big powerhouse brands that are simply expected to run commercials. Could you imagine a Super Bowl without any brand message from key players like GoDaddy, Pepsi, Coke, Budweiser, or a slew of car manufacturers?  These powerhouse brands have the budget and resources to make the most creative ads that they can.  Super Bowl commercials cost between $6 and 10M to plan, produce, and run (source: Ad Age).   Other brands that maybe don’t have the budget to run a Super Bowl ad could also win a spot through certain contests, such as Intuit’s Small Business Big Game competition.  Smaller brands can be hesitant to run Super Bowl spots because of the extremely high stakes.  “The Super Bowl, of course, is more than just a game and a handful of anticipated commercials. It’s a high stakes proving ground where companies succeed and fail and careers are made and lost” (source: adage).  Ridiculously high ad prices, anticipation, and production costs all put pressure on the advertisers to do their absolute best work.  But what are brands really paying for?

Brands are paying for PR.  As Tony Bennett, Global Creative Director at TBWA Chiat/Day said, a successful campaign is when “the advertising becomes part of the social vernacular and lives beyond the messaging put forth.”  So success is really defined by how many people talk, how many people share, and how many people interact with the content.  Social media has been key to effectively measuring one’s global reach.  Within the social landscape, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have been some of the most influential platforms for disseminating content, measuring reactions, and optimizing campaigns to get the best results.  This is why brands need to do something great, something extraordinary.

Content is king.

Good content can really help a company while bad content can destroy a company.  Advertising in the past used to be basically a product promotion where the product would be showcased in its entirety, but now advertising is much more complex.  Content should be fun, engaging, humorous, and out of the box.  Brands must work to connect with the consumer on a personal level and it must be totally memorable.  Bennett also said creative, funny, edgy advertising is very “brave.”  Brands really do not know what the outcome of the “funny” advertising is going to be; they may have projections, but don’t know for sure.  It is adventurous and when done right, it can do worlds for your brand.

Old Spice.

What did you just think of?  Old Spice: the man your man could smell like ( and this spot has over 47 million views on YouTube.  Now that is a strong brand.  But, it wasn’t always that way, Old Spice used to be a men’s product company dominated by shaving soap and aftershave lotion predominantly bought by older males.  They needed a new target, so they turned 180 degrees.  It worked. Again, content is king.

So, in the spirit of the Super Bowl drink Bud, eat Tostitos, and enjoy time with those you love.