Ask anyone in America their favorite part of the Super Bowl, and a significant chunk of them will probably say it’s the commercials.
Some of these advertisements are funny and outrageous; others are heartfelt and inspire charitable action or provide cultural commentary. Some showcase a lavish lifestyle, inspiring viewers to aspire to obtain they see on the screen. Whatever the content, all organizations who advertise during this grand event must cough up around $5 million to snag a spot in the coveted commercial lineup.
This year, one company had a different idea.
Kraft Heinz, who made waves last year with their endearing wiener dog commercial, decided to opt out of spending big bucks on an expensive ad and instead decided give its employees the day off the Monday after the Super Bowl.
To add context to this move, Heinz released a short video a few days before the big game. They cited the decline in people’s productivity after a party-filled Sunday and the $1 billion nationwide economic loss as reasons, and proposed sending a petition to Congress to declare “Smunday” a national holiday. They wrapped up this feel-good message with a call to action, encouraging at least 100,000 people to sign their petition.
Sure enough, Super Bowl Sunday rolled around with no cute hot-dog-bun-clad wiener dogs in sight. Unfortunately for Heinz, “Smunday” failed to garner the minimum amount of votes to make it to Congress. But the company gained something far more valuable: positive public relations.
By not participating in the typical commercial lineup, Heinz set themselves apart, creating more buzz while spending less money. In not issuing a paid message, they utilized a spirit of activism and altruism, opting to brand themselves as a company that cares more about people than its bottom line.
Of course, we all know that companies always care about making money first and foremost, but Heinz understood that by focusing on the impact of the campaign on internal and external publics, they would make more money and foster better relationships in the long-term.
In public relations, maintaining good employee relations is the backbone of successful communications. Maintaining good employee and good customer relations is even better, and I believe Heinz will reap the benefits of their actions during Super Bowl LI for quite a while.
As for “Smunday,” there is always next year.
Image from United Press International