The Super Bowl of Commercials

It’s Super Bowl weekend which means one thing: COMMERCIALS! Ok, maybe more than that, but as a lover of pop culture (and non-football fan) the commercials are the highlight for me. Actually, to be honest it is even more than the commercials themselves, but all the discussion around them (and even in some cases the controversy around them).

Social media has definitely changed the way that their commercials are shared and talked about. In the past, you had to wait and actually watch the commercials in real time during Super Bowl. Now, the commercials are usually released beforehand (30 sec and 60 sec versions), or at least teased with a short clip, days before the actual event.  Typically, releasing something before its air date wouldn’t happen unless it got leaked, as it would ruin the big reveal, impact, buzz and conversation around the commercial. The anticipation would be lost; however, social media has totally changed that convention and the narrative around it. Social media has extended the conversation both before and after.

Case in point – I have already watched a handful of this year’s commercials. I have seen them being talked about on blogs and websites, and being widely shared on social media. For anyone interested here are all of this year’s Super Bowl commercials in alphabetical order.

Social media allows for us to express exactly how we feel about the commercial immediately after we see it. It is all about multi-screen engagement which allows conversations to be seeded immediately.The response is swift, especially when the response is negative. Does anyone remember the controversial Nationwide commercial from last year about childhood insurance? For anyone who doesn’t remember it or didn’t see it:


The response and backlash was immediate and vicious.

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This commercial was in direct contrast to the typical tone of Super Bowl commercials, which are usually humorous or empowering. They went off-brand, forgot that people don’t respond well to negative reinforcement in financial services advertising, and they forgot their target audience and the context for their ad. Despite all the conversation about this commercial, it was definitely a marketing fail for Nationwide.

On an interesting note, competitor State Farm saw an opportunity. As Nationwide took heat on Twitter, State Farm stepped in and ran promoted tweets in Twitter user’s streams, focusing on fire safety and prevention tips. A much softer and ‘on-brand’ approach. See also Oreo below weighing in on the commercial (side note: Oreo is genius at newsjacking and real-time marketing, see also their tweet during the power outage at the Super Bowl)

And in contrast to the intense backlash, there was the inevitable creation of memes. These memes took something dark and negative and turned into something very topical and admittedly hilarious: http://www.bustle.com/articles/61823-nationwides-dead-kid-super-bowl-ad-memes-were-inevitable-are-still-hilarious


So, what has been your favourite Super Bowl commercial so far this year? For the record, my favourite so far is the T-Mobile Drake Restricted Bling commercial. Are there are any other memorable Super Bowl commercials that have stuck with you over the years whether good or bad (Budweiser “Wassup” commercial anyone)?

My curated life aka comparison is the thief of joy

Social media has not only changed our lives, but how we share our lives. With social media we have the innate desire to share the details of our lives from the minuscule to the major. From what we ate for breakfast and our #ootd to life changing events such a pregnancy, new jobs, moving, etc.

I have jokingly used the expression “It didn’t happen if you don’t post it on social media” but I think in many cases this could be considered #jokingnotjoking.

Gone are the days of tearing pictures out from magazines for inspiration boards and ideas, now we have Instagram and Pinterest to do. So many of us are constantly striving for something we don’t have or wanting to only show a small snapshot of our life and present it in a way that we think is pleasing to the masses. These days it is not uncommon for people to make a living through social media or rely on it heavily as a part of their business, and a large part of that is through giving a glimpse into their lives from their homes and décor, to their travels, clothing and family. Their lifestyle has now become their brand.

This recent article from the Vancouver Sun is a fascinating and fantastic examination of a curated life and how various women decide what to share and not share on social media as part of their lifestyle and brand.

However, the pressure to present a perfect image and a perfect life can become too much. Recently, a well-known social media “star” quit social media altogether, but not before revealing the truth behind her carefully curated “perfect” life and photos:

I spent hours watching perfect girls online, wishing I was them. Then when I was ‘one of them’ I still wasn’t happy, content or at peace with myself.”

I can imagine this is the case for many people on social media who live their life according to likes, shares and followers, but are too afraid and too entrenched to stop it. How many pictures did they take and how many filters did they apply before they felt they could post it?

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It can be hard to look at their blogs, instagrams, tweets, etc. and not start to covet what you don’t have or not begin to compare your life to theirs. These curated lives can make it look so easy and effortless. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel that we are not doing a good job or that we are not good enough. I think this is especially true for young girls and moms. We can forget to look at our lives and appreciate all the good we do have. We forget that there is no such thing as perfect, and these are only small glimpses and snapshots into someone’s life, not the whole picture. We must remember that to curate means to “to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation”. When it comes to social media, comparison truly is the thief of joy if we let it be.

Social media is about connecting us, and to connect we need to share. An important part of sharing is taking it at face value, and not assigning more meaning to them than necessary, and not letting it change the way we live our lives. Most importantly, we connect when we are honest and sharing the good, the bad and the ugly!

Everyone’s life is a mixture of happy and sad. Don’t let social media fool you.

Do you filter what you post on social media? Have you fallen into the comparison trap when it comes to your own life and social media?

COM0011 Blog #1: Changing the world one #hashtag at a time

These days hashtags are a ubiquitous part of our lives, they have made it beyond the virtual into the real world, into popular culture (see Fallon below) and even into our everyday vocabulary. While hashtags began as a way of grouping on Twitter, it has evolved beyond those simple days into something so much larger in scale and purpose and into something with power. What I am getting at here is “hashtag activism”, which is a part of the larger digital activism realm.

Hashtag activism is defined by Techopedia as:

“The act of fighting for or supporting a cause that people are advocating through social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other networking websites. This is the kind of activism that does not require any action from the person other than sharing or “liking” a post or “retweeting” tweets on Twitter. The term gets its name from the liberal use of hashtags (#) that are often used to spread the word about a cause over Twitter.”

These types of hashtags are being used more and more often as a way to bring attention to a topic or issue, mobilize the public, and create awareness and conversation and in turn gain support.

A few of the activism hashtags that have taken over not only digital media, but traditional media the past year have been: #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe, #BringBackOurGirls, #WhyIStayed, #JeSuisCharlie, and #UmbrellaRevolution. A more recent one that has been in the news lately has been #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that straddles the world of entertainments and movies and also the political.

A flip side to the mobilization of hashtag activism and the awareness it creates is the criticism that hashtag activism does not really change anything, that it allows us, on the other side of the screen, to feel that we did something simply by pressing “like” or “share”, but that no real action was required, and that is does not lead to donations or support beyond that simple act on the screen. This has even been dubbed “slacktivism”. The social media world can be one of much talk and no action.

The article Hashtag Activism: #powerful or #pointless? makes some very good points from several activists and writers on both sides of the argument.  One argument for hashtag activism and its value that is made in the article is from Bev Gooden, the woman who started the #WhyIStayed hashtag for women who have suffered domestic abuse. She stated in an interview with NPR that “the beauty of hashtag activism is that it creates an opportunity for sustained engagement, which is important for any cause.”

Having worked in the not-for-profit sector and from the other side as a community funder this resonated with me. One of the most important things is trying to get heard among the many other causes and charities and fundraisers. Getting the opportunity to have your message heard, and to have the opportunity to engage with an audience you may not have had access to before, is a big deal. Creating conversation and awareness is important. It is where it all has to begin. It is true that many who hear your message may “like” what you have to say, but may not do anything beyond that; however, given the opportunity to reach even new people with your message and having the opportunity to engage and activate even one person who you may not have reached before is worth it. As Gooden also notes: “‘the hope is that the hashtag will inspire action’ and serve as a springboard that people can use to launch themselves from online conversation to real-world action.”

I feel that social media is about connecting people and creating a dialogue, and it can be a useful and important tool for activism.

I am curious to know, whether you out there partake in hashtag activism and if you feel it works? Would you label yourself a slacktivist?