Super Bowl ads should address social issues—but with caution

by | Feb 2, 2018 | Public Relations

New research from brand receptivity research firm Leflein Associates offers fresh insights on social issues and diversity inclusion sensitivities that should be considered during any ad campaign to avoid costly mistakes and improve marketing effectiveness.

“Today, more than ever, companies need to become culturally aware and informed when making advertising decisions about how they portray women and multicultural audiences. By basing creative decisions on data-driven evidence CMOs can preempt social media disasters and sleep better at night,” said Barbara Leflein, president and CEO of Leflein Associates, in a news release.

“Recently we’ve seen far too many high-profile mistakes advertisers have made that have cost them dearly through social media backlash. Those are the things we can help our clients avoid by simply taking the time up-front to utilize our methodology and apply it,” she added.

Is your brand support genuine?

Whether it is racial inequality, immigration or women’s rights, it’s important to explore whether consumers give the brand permission to genuinely support a particular cause. According to a recent study conducted by Leflein in a GenForward national survey of 1,816 adults 18-34, 88 percent of millennials cited a social issue they would like brands to bring attention to in their advertising efforts. Yet, despite millennials’ well documented passion for social causes, two out of five are skeptical, believing that companies only pretend to care or that brands and social issues don’t mix.

Brands that do take on a social cause have to tread very lightly, as the study found that 80 percent of millennials said they would take action against the brand whose advertising mishandled a social issue they care most about.

Super Bowl ad challenges

This Sunday, advertisers will pay an average $3.8 million for a commercial in the Big Game, which are big investments with big potential payoffs. These ads, according to a recent article appearing in Advertising Age, will face scrutiny amid the #metoo movement, for how women are portrayed, if included at all. Brands that want to align themselves with women’s empowerment should note that younger millennial women 18-24 are 21 percent more likely than men in this age group (58 percent vs. 48 percent respectively) to say they would stop purchasing or spread the word to boycott a brand if it mishandled a social issue they were passionate about.

“Advertisers are always at risk of making tone deaf mistakes, but a fumble at the football championship can get you benched indefinitely,” Leflein cautioned.

Super Bowl ads should address social issues—but with caution

Leflein Associates has developed a measurement technique called a Brand Receptivity Index (BRI), a proprietary methodology used for studying how a brand is received by the audience they are looking to reach with their message. When determining if any social cause is appropriate to the brand and whether brand messages are on point, it’s paramount to be sensitive to the perceptions of diverse audiences.

Addressing today’s pressing advertising needs, Leflein Associates is introducing its BRI Workshops for B2C and B2B companies. The Workshops are designed in two to three hour sessions for advertisers interested in connecting with the passions of diverse millennial audiences. These workshops can be tailored to a particular event or need based on the requirements of the client.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter