“Marketing Matters”: Replay of Super Bowl LI

Aired February 8th, 2017

Nearly all eyes were on the Super Bowl on February 5th, but while some watched for the Big Game, others tuned in for the ‘Oscars of Advertising’. On Marketing Matters later that week, Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney joined Executive Director Catharine Hays to speak with four guests who worked on some of the most influential Super Bowl campaigns: Amory Wooden (Director of Brand Marketing at Squarespace), Michael Sprague (COO & EVP at Kia Motors America), Jennifer Saenz (SVP & CMO at Frito-Lay North America), and Steve Fund (SVP & CMO at Intel).

Super Bowl LI dedicated 23% of its broadcast to advertising, making it the second most ad-heavy game in history according to data from Kantar Media. In the aftermath of the election, straddling the political line was a point of concern; ads that touched upon social issues (Budweiser, Google Home) became nearly as controversial as those that were boldly political (84 Lumber, Audi). Inevitably, ads of all kinds circulated the buzzing social media sphere. Certain campaigns, like those from Squarespace and Kia, stood out for being humorously unique. Others, like Frito-Lay and Intel, pushed the envelope on technological engagement. Despite their diversity, the four Marketing Matters guests were unified regarding one essential point: a commitment to long-term authenticity.

Key Takeaways:

  • Speaking to consumer passions and experiences can ensure message longevity
  • Let every campaign inform future campaigns and the broader brand narrative
  • Innovative usage of technology is opening new roads to consumer engagement
  • This year, humor and relatability are among the most successful campaign approaches


Amory Wooden, 

Director of Brand Marketing

at Squarespace

Hosting consumer passions

Amory Wooden, Director of Brand Marketing for Squarespace, finds the Super Bowl timed perfectly for ushering in new ideas for the new year, when consumers are primed for attempting fresh ventures – like starting a website for a business, for example.

For their Super Bowl LI campaign, Squarespace decided to tell a real story about John Malkovich’s passion for launching his own fashion brand and the struggles he encountered trying to obtain his own domain name. The ad reminds users of the importance of buying a domain. “What Squarespace does in marketing, whether it’s really big scale like Super Bowl or small scale like a social post, is we try to find customers and stories that can talk about our product for us,” Wooden explained. By sending a message about domains as opposed to websites, Squarespace is trying to encourage users to take a first step. If the brand is successful in appealing to consumer needs, Wooden believes that first step (buying a domain) could be the springboard for a future business. While Squarespace may not always take a Super Bowl spot, the important thing is letting customers, like Malkovich, tell their stories through advertising.

Wooden said “flexibility and agility” is a must for a successful campaign. “Follow an organic route […] let the best things happen, and really celebrate that.”

Michael Sprague,

COO & EVP of 

Kia Motors America

Driving appeal with humor

One of the fastest growing car companies in the US, Kia has held a total of 9 spots in the Super Bowl for 8 consecutive years. This year, their commercial featuring Melissa McCarthy won USA TODAY’s Ad Meter for best ad in the 2017 game.

COO and EVP of Kia Motors America, Michael Sprague, explained that the comedic approach was less of a response to the current political climate than an effort to introduce a new product to the audience in an appealing way – McCarthy’s sense of humor was simply a major force in shaping its appeal. Sprague said the Super Bowl is used by Kia as a “platform to launch new vehicles,” and that the planning for the next ad campaign can begin as soon as the night after the game. Brand activity is monitored before, during, and after the Super Bowl, with consideration of metrics such as the number of PR mentions and impressions or search frequency on third-party shopping sites. Part of Kia’s attempt to be interesting and unique every year is extending the life of their Super Bowl ads into cinema. “This is a broader campaign,” Sprague emphasized, “not just about Sunday night.” Despite the costs of a Super Bowl ad spot, Sprague considers the price worth paying when the campaign is able to drive both traffic and sales.

Jennifer Saenz,

SVP and CMO of Frito-Lay North America

“Dynasty” advertising

Last year, Doritos ended its “Crash the Super Bowl” program after a highly successful 10-year run that revolutionized the presence of user-generated content in marketing. From this Super Bowl venture, Doritos was able to build a crowdsourcing network of creative consumers, a “Legion of the Bold,” which has continued to provide additional content for the brand. Jennifer Saenz, SVP and CMO of Frito-Lay North America, said the campaign catered to a consumer desire to see day-to-day engagement, and in turn, allowed consumers to reveal core brand truths. Saenz calls “Crash” a dynasty program ­– the key to its longevity is rooted in capturing a special spark that resonates for consumers.

This year’s in-game advertiser for Frito-Lay was Tostitos, the official chip of the NFL since 2014. The highlight of Tostitos’ Super Bowl presence came in the form of a “party-safe” chip bag that measured alcohol content in a person’s breath. Tostitos partnered up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to flesh out the campaign, as well as with Uber to provide consumers with discounted, safe rides home. Saenz said the campaign wanted to promote drunk driving awareness as well as consumer curiosity for a unique product: “Technology allows us to break through and capture people’s attention and imagination in a way that traditional mediums simply don’t – and that’s what we really wanted to do with this bag.”

Saenz firmly endorses connecting to the consumer experience: “I believe that consumers demand a level of personalization and customization in their experience and some acknowledgement of who they are as an individual. The more we’re able to do that, the more connection they see to our businesses.”

Steve Fund,

SVP & CMO of Intel

Technology: a performance category

“We’re really trying to position Intel as an innovative company and a tech leader that expands beyond PC’s and micro-processors,” says Steve Fund, the company’s SVP and CMO. Intel did just that during Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show, blowing up social media with their Shooting Star™ drone display. Built from Intel microprocessors as well as Intel software and algorithms, the flying bots are part of a brand effort to not only feature more in pop culture, but to garner attention by taking part in the biggest, highest profile events ­– the Grammys and ESPN included.

Additionally, the first full ad of the Super Bowl season was released by Intel, featuring Tom Brady and Intel’s 360 replay technology. Despite the marketing risk of working with an athlete whose team might not play, Fund explains that taking an innovative approach, and being a part of the game broadcast experience is one way to help “drive preference and mind share” for the brand. Ultimately, Fund says, “We want people to insist on Intel.”

From his experience working at the consumer side in companies like PepsiCo and Staples, Fund believes that the key to staying ahead of other brands using a B2B approach may be to stop dividing the two. “I’ve always found it funny that marketers talk to business people in a very different way than they talk to consumers, even though they’re one and the same.” He suggests, instead, to talk to business people like people.

You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/

By Gloria Yuen
English, SAS ‘18