Nobody Puts OBJ in the Corner

The NFL may already be the center of focus during the Super Bowl, but that doesn’t stop them from joining the competition for the most memorable advertisement of the night.

If don’t watch the Giants play, you may be unaware that Odell Beckham Jr. has become fairly well-known for his touchdown celebrations. See the below highlight reel for reference:

In a commercial with the slogan “To All the Touchdown Celebrations to Come,”  Eli and Odell take on the epic 80’s classic Dirty Dancing. The two tackled the iconic choreography with near perfect accuracy. Although, admittedly, Odell’s moves are a little more polished than Eli’s, but that just adds to the charm of the ad.

The goal of the advertisement is to market for the upcoming season by highlighting the fact that, for most teams, the Super Bowl marks the beginning of a fresh start. For Eli and Odell, that means nailing the perfect touchdown celebration.

The ad is a mix of surprise, nostalgia, and humor, working in unison to secure its spot at the top of the numerous “Best Super Bowl Commercial” lists for weeks to come after the game–that’s free advertising. The cost to run an advertisement during the Super Bowl is worth it if the ad is successful. Not to mention the fact that several of the ads, including this one, go viral online before the game even airs.

How do you think they did?

-Katie Solinski

NFL Image Takes a Tackle

One of the hot topics recently hitting the media today has been the news surrounding Ray Rice and the Baltimore Ravens. This story has created turmoil and conflict when regarding the NFL’s image but more specifically Roger Goodell’s image. Back when the news first broke about Rice supposedly hitting his now wife, the NFL responded with little punishment due to the fact that there was no proof.

Recently, TMZ has released video footage of the incident, which resulted in Rice’s suspension. The biggest question that has came to surface was whether or not the NFL knew about the video before it was released to the public. Goodell and Baltimore Ravens coach, John Harbaugh, responded saying that they had no prior knowledge of this video.

Video contains violence, discretion advised (http://www.tmz.com/2014/09/08/ray-rice-elevator-knockout-fiancee-takes-crushing-punch-video/)

Now the Associated Press has released a statement and a voicemail that proves the video was sent to the NFL back in April. So what does this mean for the NFL and the NFL commissioner? The image of Roger Goodell is quickly declining, due to his unresponsiveness to the issue.

In an organization as large as the NFL, the commissioner works as a sort of mouthpiece for the entire entity. He doesn’t just speak for himself; he also speaks as the NFL. This personification of the entire organization makes the choices of one man represent the image at large. This is why Goodell’s actions are so detrimental to the NFL’s entire brand image.

This topic perfectly blends together with Marshall McLuhan’s theory of Media Ecology. According to Griffin (2011) this surrounds the idea that technology not only influences our society as a whole, but that also how media and communication practices shape and affect human perceptions and understanding of human affairs. The video of Ray Rice that went viral into our social media world, shaped our insight and intuition of how the NFL and Roger Goodell handle its organization, and certainly affects out external interpretation of the NFL’s image.

-Hannah Zeskind, Connor Gold, Margaret Cafasso, Kierstin Geary, and Olivia Sadler

Tackling Consumers

A round of applause for the Seattle Seahawks as the champions of the Super Bowl XLVIII. Even if you were not a fan of either the Broncos or the Seahawks, it almost a sure bet you tuned into the game. Every year over 100 million people observe what is arguably the sporting event of the year.

The Super Bowl, however, is known for more than a fierce round of football – it’s known for the commercials. Here is time where advertisers pull out all the stops. Audiences expect commercials of both artistic and humorous grandeur. Prices for spots annually rise, this year topping at $4 million for a 30 second spot.

Yet companies don’t spend millions for spots merely to entertain viewers. Unlike in decades past, advertisers are no longer in the business of explaining, but in the business of convincing and reinforcing. This is often the purpose of commercials we see every day. So, other than the guaranteed viewership, what is the worth of a Super Bowl spot?

Credibility, claims Joe Glennon, assistant professor of advertising at Temple’s School of Media and Mass Communication. In an article for the Philadelphia Business Journal, Glennon explains that many advertisers walk away from the exorbitant price tag due to the simple financial standpoint that $4 million for 30 seconds is a largely impossible return on investment. He explains that of those who do justify the expense there are two primary advertisers – large, well known, companies who use the spots to reinforce brand propensities among current users, and smaller companies who use the spot as a means to launch into the market by gaining notoriety.

So, in the myriad of last night’s entertainment, we have selected four commercials that beautifully represent the two credibility building categories Glennon noted; some attempting cut into, or further into the market, others reinforcing brand attitudes.

Squarespace

Squarespace created a spot that was a humorous, but accurate depiction of what the Internet is like – cluttered. Personifying memes, obnoxious advertisements, and the “duck face”, Squarespace offered to consumers that when using their services for website building and maintenance, the company could alleviate such distraction. So, why did Squarespace make it onto the list today? Simple, the Squarespace commercial introduced the company values and brand in a creative, weird, funny, and somewhat true way. Justifying the $4 million dollar expenditure seems to working so far – we are talking about – there’s probably a good chance other people are too.

WeatherTech

Although the ad was neither humorous nor heart-warming, WeatherTech’s commercial built on a sacred theme in the Super Bowl: American pride. Their slogan, “American Factories, American Raw Materials, and American Workers”, was enough to draw people’s interest and introduce their company as a defying the odds, sticking with their gut, and overcoming obstacles many American companies have faced. During a time when many gripe about US jobs becoming outsourced, it’s hard to say that WeatherTech didn’t prove their credibility with their national pride.

Cheerios

Yes, the adorable little girl is back and this time she is getting a brother. This 30-second ad wraps up what all of us remember of Cheerios and what the Cheerios brand wants us to remember about them; families coming together over love. Here Cheerios is showing how they are continuing to be a hearty and healthy part of growing families.

Bank of America/(RED)/U2

What does this commercial not do? It introduces U2’s new song “Invisible” (there is still time to get your free download if you haven’t done it), it highlights and raises money for the charity (RED), increases knowledge of AIDS/HIV, and shows Bank of America’s humanitarian efforts. Reinforcing their slogan, “Life is better when your connected”, Bank of America is giving a chance for its customers and the world to connect by helping to end an epidemic.

What is your opinion? Do you think these commercials deserve a spot in these categories? What other commercials did you see that introduce the brand or reinforce existing brand propensities?

Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade

NFL Won’t Go Green

The Marijuana Policy Project advocates the use of marijuana for everybody, evidently. An issue arose when they decided to put a pro-marijuana, anti-alcohol billboard right outside the Denver Broncos stadium for the opening game of the 2013 NFL season. The billboard, pictured below, reads “Stop driving players to drink! A safer choice is now legal (here).”

The group gained national attention for their effort, but garnered no more reaction from the NFL than being ignored. No doubt a PR pro in a dark suit stepped out of the limo and calmly said, “We do not plan on changing our policies” to nobody in particular, before disappearing behind the fireworks, blinding stadium lights and logo of his employer to wait for the next NFL public relations hiccup.

But it is on the table now: How will the NFL react if marijuana becomes completely commercialized in America?

L169_CIFRe0aa912e6add72ba7d5a35cd2d2d3b01

The billboard illustrates the cognitive dissonance that must resonate somewhere within the NFL right now, if only within the players who use the drug. Presumably, the NFL doesn’t allow its players to use marijuana because it is illegal, but if we remember, there was a time when alcohol was illegal, and many NFL players love that stuff. Look at what alcohol means to the NFL now. Anheuser-Busch spends hundreds of millions of dollars in NFL advertising every year. No one can watch a football game without seeing groups of guys and gals guzzling beers between plays, commenting on its many boons. Replays are brought to us by Coors Light, Miller, or Bud, and they even pay for “plays-of-the-game” to show after the games are over. Alcohol is imbedded in American football culture as deeply as the National Anthem. Beer is so prevalent in football it could be the background of a video playing the National Anthem at the start of the game, while people stand with one hand over their heart, and another on their bottle, sobbing sudsy tears of intoxicated satisfaction.

But it used to be illegal.

Maybe nobody in the NFL remembers that besides Dan Rooney, but the dissonance must have been there back then. It was probably much easier to deal with, there being so few media outlets and so much less media intrusion into players’ lives.

Alcohol prohibition ended before televisions appeared in about 100% of American households, but it may be deduced that another NFL (or AFL, back then) spokesperson said, in response to letting players drink after prohibition ended, “We do not plan on changing our policies.” But the policies changed. Social cognitive theory, and its application to football and the law, grew new roots and laid down new rules. If the rules change this time around, and marijuana becomes legal, and organizations start letting manufacturers of marijuana advertise, the NFL is going to hop right into that hurricane of dollars to get a piece. Will they do it first? Or will they watch others do it before jumping in? Social cognitive theory, and knowledge of the NFL’s motivators, suggest that they will either lead or be led in adopting the change, but we know they will definitely be a part of it.

If players who have been punished for marijuana are around when that happens, what will the NFL tell them?

Von Miller, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, has been suspended for the first six games of the 2013 season for diluting a sample during NFL drug testing. The NFL’s substance abuse policy is extensive, but with enough digging, one can find that Miller failed to comply twice in the second stage of intervention, after having tested positive for marijuana. The takeaway message is that Von Miller likes to smoke marijuana. He may even have seen the billboard from the bus, experiencing some cognitive dissonance himself, waiting to go and sit on the sidelines, in his pajamas, for the big game.

Miller, who shows loyalty to the Mile-High city in his public relations efforts, has at least one of the same habits as the Detroit Lions’ players Nick Fairley, Johnny Culbreath, and Mikel Leshoure: smoking marijuana, which is a synonym for what they were charged with, “possession.” According to former NFL offensive tackle Lomas Brown, who played eighteen seasons in the league across five teams, this is nothing new. Lomas says at least half of NFL players are known to take (marijuana) smoke breaks from time to time. He says this is down from the at least 90% who used the drug when he joined in 1985. No one is suggesting that players should be doing bong rips on the sidelines, but is it possible that the NFL ought to revise its policy on marijuana to avoid future complications?

Legislation regarding marijuana is shifting more towards leniency than sanction in many states, and the drug is now legal to use in Washington and Colorado, but it has not fully caught on across the country. If it is legalized in most or all of the 50 states, what is the NFL going to do about it in regards to its players?

The commercial sale of marijuana becomes a reality in Colorado on January 1, 2014, and no one is really sure how it is going to go. But if history is any indicator, it will be picked up by manufacturers, branded, and sold to as many people as possible, like alcohol. When the NFL hears “sold to as many people as possible,” dollar signs flash, jingle, and dance like fire across its eyes, and they start the bidding on air time in their finest suits. What they are now punishing players for, they are likely to embrace if the time comes.

Most of us were not around to see what happened before and after prohibition in the realm of policies and marketing. But if we stay tuned, we might get a good look at what it was like if the NFL, the biggest outlet for advertising in America, is forced to turn the table on its marijuana stance.

Can you envision the day where Bud, Coors, and Miller are replaced by Bud, Cannabis, and Mota during commercial breaks? A day where NFL beer advertising takes a backseat to marijuana advertising?

I can’t imagine it, but some people in the Mile-High city can.

– Chad Darrah

Name Changer

Tailgating, body paint, jerseys, good luck rituals, and an unparalleled fraternity all exist as part of sports fandom. People love their teams – and love anyone else who also loves their team. Such loyalty has become an integrated part of sports culture sociology.

Social Identity Theory states that by wearing team colors, attending games, knowing the players’ names, positions and stats, a fan begins to feel as if they are an integral part of the team – they connect with the team as if they were playing the game themselves. This connection explains why even poor performing teams have avid supporters. However, it is ultimately marketing that fosters fan identity. After all teams are brands; encompassing colors, logos, and mascots.

fans, blog 3

Fan loyalty has elevated sports to become part of our commodity culture; a product to be bought and sold, meaning big bucks for team owners. High-level sport has been transformed into a commercialized, commodified, and massified phenomenon. Therefore, fan identification and brand commitment become two key factors in managing and marketing a team. Building a brand is hard, but building and maintaining a culture of fans is much harder.

As we transition into fall, we know that means one thing in sports,  football is king. With the NFL season in bloom, one team in particular, the Washington Redskins, are off to a rough start. The return of RG III has been very anti-climactic and on top of the team’s poor performance, a greater worry looms in the background: the franchise is under pressure to change the team name.

Many believe the team’s name, “redskins”, is derogatory and racist due to its historical connotation and use to alienate and belittle Native Americans. The acclaimed Peter King from sports illustrated has even decided to stop using the name, saying, “I don’t want to add to the offensiveness.” Pressure to change the team’s name has been mounting for years and this past spring 10 congress members sent letters to the team owner and NFL requesting them to change the name. One Native American group, the Oneida Indian Nation, has started to take action and run ads in D.C. about the offensive name in hopes of rallying up support.

rs logo, blog 3

Whether you are an avid supporter for the name change, an avid supporter of the Redskins, or just don’t care, you can’t deny that team names mean a lot in the sports industry. Which leads us to the question: does a new name mean a new team? Does the team culture change when a team redesigns?

These are exactly the questions the NBA juggled this past summer when they chose to revert the Charlotte Bobcats back to their former team name, the Charlotte Hornets. Coming onto the basketball scene in the ’90s, the Charlotte Hornets created a unique culture. With Hugo the Hornet as the mascot and teal uniforms, the Charlotte Hornets were a recognizable brand. So when the NBA decided to change the team name it was a hard transition for many loyal and devoted fans. Unable to identify with the new team and culture the fans gave up support and the fall of the Bobcat brand ensued.

Reverting back to the original team name rejuvenated Charlotte fans. There was an immediate increase in the amount of ticket sales; quantitative proof that the Hornet name had been sorely missed. By keeping the team name consistent with what the fans wanted, the Charlotte basketball team re-strengthened their brand significantly.

However, Washington, unlike the Bobcats, doesn’t have a sorely missed brand. In fact, the Redskins name is so beloved the proposition of changing the team’s name is being met with great opposition. Owner Daniel Snyder commented he would never change the name saying, “the Redskins’ fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means.” Even NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, described the team name as a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride, and respect.”

Even if Snyder wanted to change the name it would be hard to change the minds of brand followers who have spent years identifying with the team, purchasing the merchandise, rooting for the players, and most importantly making memories. Ditching the derogatory name may ultimately come to a forced decision but the implications involved are massive. It boils down to a relatively simple equation: fan identification and brand commitment work together to produce the main goal in sport commodity, revenue. So the most important factor to ponder: the fans. How is the team going to remarket and rebrand to get fans to commit to a team they may no longer identify with?

Savannah Valade, Caroline Robinson, Meghan Carey, Morgan Jones

The Contribution of Celebrities in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

An advantage to the promotion of breast cancer-awareness for celebrities can be their ongoing fame and popularity. Their voices are being heard, and can get the point across to both women and men that this is an urgent issue and should be taken very seriously. Various celebrities have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are using their popularity, courage, and personal experience with the fight to serve as a source of inspiration to other women and men. It sounds strange to put men in this category; but yes, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.

An article titled “Celebrity Breast Cancer Fighters”, located on the knowcancer.com website, releases that Cynthia Nixon, popularly referred to as “Miranda” from the show “Sex and the City”, was “diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram in 2006. She initially battled it without a public announcement of her diagnosis or treatment in fear of related stigma, but in 2008 she announced it to the world in an interview with Good Morning America.” Nixon portrayed much bravery and thoughtfulness throughout her interview as she explained with much understanding why some women fear yearly mammograms. Nixon addressed this fear and also offered positive, yet convincing advice to all who were listening.
Celebrity status has been a great way of reaching a wide-ranged audience, proving that numerous celebrities’ lives have been unavoidably interrupted by breast cancer that they are not alone in this fight. Professional athletes and teams are also jumping on the awareness support-train. The NFL, its club teams, and all of the professional players in the association are wearing pink with pride in order to support the fight against breast cancer. According to the official nfl.com/pink website, the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, is “focused on the importance of annual screenings, especially for women who are 40 and older. Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins – all to help raise awareness for this important campaign.” These organizations are aware that breast cancer can happen to anyone and having this kind of support could mean the world to those diagnosed.  An auction will later be held by the NFL with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society’s CHANGE program. All the pink apparel worn by the coaches and players will be auctioned off, along with special pink game footballs.

According to www.cancer.gov, breast cancer is the most prevalent non-skin cancer among women with 203,000 new cases diagnosed along with over 40,000 deaths in 2007 alone.  Using celebrities as spokespeople for the cause can be a great way to spread awareness and get more people involved.  Ultimately, this can get more money raised for research, treatment, and cures.  As previously stated, getting celebrities to speak out about breast cancer not only helps with current cases but helps in the detection process as well, for it promotes mammograms and routine check-ups.  It is great to see various celebrities and sports organizations come together to fight a cancer that is so detrimental to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Sasha De Vecchi, Lindsay Gallagher, Jay Reilly, Cary Welborn