Advertising, PR, and the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is one of the most highly anticipated annual sports events in the United States. From the best of the best halftime performers, to all the memorable commercials, to the game itself, almost everyone can find some reason to watch the big game. Before, during, and after the game there is a lot of talk about the famous commercials. For some, they may only be watching for those commercials. Super Bowl day is a huge thing for the public relations industry. The game is not only a platform for companies to show off their advertisements, but all of the public relations and marketing that surround the game. When marketing begins for the Super Bowl, the league does not know the two teams that will be dueling yet, so they must go at a different angle. Whether it is the performers they have confirmed, the location or even the parties associated with the game, the NFL has to find a way to make it bigger each year.

If there is one thing we learn about advertising during the Super Bowl, it is truly the perfect place to introduce viewers to new products and places through advertising. Public relations can have an impact beyond simple ads. The cost of these 30 second ads is up in the high millions. These companies have to make sure what they are putting out is worthwhile for them and the viewers.

Public relations is what keeps people talking about the ads and hopefully remember what they see. The Super Bowl gives public relations professionals a chance to find a way to reach their target audiences. Public relations professionals have realized that they have to appeal to all viewers, whether they are actual football fans or not.

In the National Football League, everything pretty much leads up to the Super Bowl. It is the highest-earning revenue event for the NFL from all of the merchandise, advertisements, and TV rights. Teams, coaches, employees and executives work the whole season for this big game. Public Relations professionals are working towards the same!

Global Communications

Have you ever wondered how advertising, public relations, communications, etc. are in other countries? I never really wondered too much about it until I visited Ireland in May 2022. 

While shopping, I noticed how differently they advertised their products. I could not really tell what most products were unless I got a good look at it, I am not sure if that was the goal to have more people pick up the product, but I was so used to automatically knowing what everything was in America based off of the huge colorful bold letters that pop out in your face. 

To advertise the country as a whole, there is a huge focus on the Cliffs of Moher. Mostly every post, newsletter, etc, that is advertising the country always mentions the cliffs. It is very different from America, considering how big it is no one would really be able to pick one tourist attraction to bring in more tourists. 

Where I was staying, a very small town in the county of Clare called Ballyvaughan, advertisements were basically nonexistent. In such a small town, the only thing I  really saw that was advertising anything was  a small board in the only  grocery shop in town, basically promoting farmers markets and charity events. 

It was amazing to see how other countries live not so engulfed by huge companies and advertisements taking over everywhere, the main thing they really cared about in Ballyvaughan was supporting each other and staying local. It was such a huge transition for me considering I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I would love to visit Ballyvaughan again some day, and even explore the rest of Ireland to see if different parts of the country are the same or different when it comes to advertising and all. Ireland is really a beautiful country with lots to do, they  even got me advertising the whole country for them!

New Netflix Docuseries Shows the Power of PR

The 1990’s was a radical time. Seinfeld was on TV; Titanic was the highest-grossing film, and the internet was still a baby. A big contention in the 90’s was the Cola wars between Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. Much like Team Edward and Team Jacob during the popularity of the Twilight saga, there were passionate camps for the soda companies. Both companies used advertising to win the popularity of the people. Coca-Cola sought to advertise a certain “family-friendly” image and even a “new” formula to sway the public. However, Pepsi leaned deep into star studded sponsorship. The iconic Cindy Crawford commercial that made young boys lifelong Pepsi fans is one of the most memorable Pepsi campaigns. There was another Pepsi campaign that was memorable for other reasons.

Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? (2022), a 4-part docuseries on Netflix details college student John Leonard. In response to Pepsi’s “Drink Pepsi, Get Stuff” campaign, John sought to win a Harrier Jet. The Jet was priced at 7 million Pepsi points and John found a way to buy enough points to get the jet.The Pepsi and BBDO advertising campaign immediately came under fire and began a legal battle with John. The documentary is very tongue-in-cheek with its editing that includes reenactments, simulations, and cheeky text that echoes Pepsi’s later amendment on their Harrier Jet campaign that said, “just kidding”. For PR students, this is an interesting look at public relations and advertising. The Cola Wars was a big PR Campaign but as the legal battle with John went on, we can see PR as a way to control a certain narrative or to cover up company oversights.

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

After going public about his feud with Pepsi, John’s reputation started to be under attack. The Pepsi CEO at the time went on news outlets to paint John as an opportunistic kid trying to get money from the company. In the beginning, the public was on John’s side until Pepsi decided to fight back. Later John, with the help of Michael Avenatti, started an ad campaign to help sway public opinion back to John’s side. One ad featured John with a black eye in the shape of the Pepsi logo. Another ad featured a blank page with small writing that pointed out that’s how advertisement features fine print for ads.

(Spoilers Ended)

The documentary goes on to show the many levels of marketing and how advertisement shapes public spending. This series is a good example of the challenges of PR and advertising. Every company dream of an impactful campaign but there are dangers (laws even) regarding what an advertisement can or cannot show. Leonard v. Pepsi Co became a landmark case in the reach of contract law that is studied in law schools today. This docuseries is like a nice cross section on how PR Firms for advertisements, law, or big companies work to tell a certain story to the public.

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