A Case for Nationwide’s Make Safe Happen Super Bowl Ad

It hadn’t happened in over two months – but there we were, together. No plans, no work, no commitments to attend a function. My wife and I both work, have two kids ages 11 and 6, and were home for the weekend. Super Bowl weekend – and nowhere to be. I remember commenting earlier that day how really nice it was to just be together and enjoy each other’s company.

The game had started, and we were all munching on our favorite snacks commenting on the funny commercials. The kids are old enough now that their comments are starting to be more meaningful (or in the six-year old’s case, more entertaining), and we had just fallen apart laughing when this ad began:

You could have heard a pin drop. “Whoa,” I softly said to my wife. “quite the buzz kill, huh?” She mumbled yes. As someone who has looked at Super Bowl ads from a marketing perspective, I thought that the decision to run such an ad was a terrible idea. The tone was all wrong: somber, depressing instead of the humorous or uplifting approach that typically dominates the evening. It’s effective, but the timing was all wrong.

I couldn’t have been the only one who felt depressed – and a quick survey of my social media feed confirmed that guess. Indeed, even Nationwide’s YouTube channel hosting this ad found more than a few of the Big Game audience agreed:

  • “I can’t believe that Nationwide would show such a depressing commercial during the Super Bowl (which generally has funny commercials). Thumbs down.”
  • “Awful commercial! That was horrible!!!What was the purpose? You’re an insurance company!!!”
  • “Horrible commercial…to sell your company on the death of children is unspeakable. There are better avenues to educate parents on keeping their children safe. I will never purchase your insurance.”
  • “Sorry but how the hell is Nationwide really going to do that? I am betting you lost business on that one – fire your advertising team.”


Let’s think about it … should they fire they’re marketing team?

First – who were they trying to reach?

My wife and I are the perfect target market or this ad, parents of small children, and we know many other parents who were watching the game last night too. In fact according to research on last year’s Super Bowl, approximately 44% of the viewers are females, roughly a 10% increase from a normal game. With viewership increasing over the year previously, one could guess that the ratings would increase yet again for this years match up between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. So, while the ad is decidedly different in tone, Nationwide had to feel relatively confident that they would reach their intended audience. I’d say they reached the intended audience.IMG_2109

Secondly – was the ad memorable?

No doubt it was! It hit my Facebook feed and was discussed for an hour, same with Twitter.

Thirdly – was this the right call, given the somber tone and almost immediate “buzz kill” nature of the ad?

Again – thinking about it a little more objectively, I would have to say yes. A visit to their website, http://www.makesafehappen.com confirms this thought with some even more sobering statistics.

Finally – will it work?

I think that depends on how Nationwide reacts, and what they do next. There is an opportunity here, but they must be very deliberate with the next step. If their intentions are true, this could be a great campaign, and a great move for the company as a whole – they could demonstrate through their actions that Nationwide is truly on our side.

In an age of cynicism and money-grabs, an age of let’s get the contract, let’s get the sale – I choose to believe that this ad was an aggressive, yet socially responsible first missive into educating parents. Perhaps they really want to show parents what they can do to make their homes safe, to help protect families and prevent the unthinkable from happening.

You can call me naïve. In return, I’ll refer you to my blog title.


AR Marketing Moves Closer to Reality

Back in 2002, when the futuristic thriller Minority Report was about to hit the theaters, there was a particular clip that made the rounds during the build up to its release. If memory serves, it had many folks talking, asking the question is this the feature of marketing?



It’s been just 12 years since it’s release, and for those of you who are not aware, there is marketing out there now that reflects what you see in the clip from the film. It’s called Augmented Reality Marketing. Now, I’m pretty sure most people have a handle on marketing. However, let’s see a show of hands for those who know what Augmented Reality is? No? OK – according to Wikipedia, here’s the definition:


A live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.



It is an interesting cperfecting  naivety AR Marketingoncept for sure, and it will become more common (Google Glass, anyone?). But it has been slow to catch on. After all, it has been pegged as the next big thing since December of 2009. But it may very well have arrived in recent months.


In this recent article, the author outlines several steps that organizations would need to successfully run an AR Campaign. She even references  several other studies that demonstrate a consistent ROI. It seems that more and more big brands (Kraft, Pepsi) have jumped on board, and the data should continue to pour in supporting its use. The bigger question that now presents are these:

  • What are the more practical means a small business could use AR to its own advantage?
  • Is this technology so that a small business can afford to employ this cutting edge technology?

Stay tuned…

Two Words Small Business Owners Hate to Hear

If you ever want to really, REALLY get under the skin of a small business owner – wait formarketing mix them to ask you for marketing advice, and then give them the answer they hate to hear:

It depends.

To illustrate, let me tell you a brief story:

I was running a quick errand during lunch a few weeks back, and was at the mall to get a new case for my phone. I struck up a conversation with the gentleman running the kiosk from which I was buying the case. He saw my work ID, identifying me and my position.

“You are a marketing guy, eh?”

“I am,” I replied.

“Can I ask you a few questions?”

I said yes of course, and he launched into his story. He and his wife were running an interior design business, and he was hoping I could answer a few marketing questions. No problem, I said, what do you got?

“What should I do?”

“What are you doing,” I replied.

Well, we’re talking to someone now to be honest, and she has several ideas for us, particularly around SEO, Google and Facebook ads, and social media. But I don’t know, she doesn’t have any proof or guarantee that it will work.”

“To be  honest, sir,” I said, “if she gave you any guarantee, then I would tell you to go with someone else.”

“So,” he stated again, “what should I do.”

“Honestly, sir, really it just depends.”

“Arrrgh! … you marketing people say that all the time. I’m just looking for one answer, just one thing that will be right for me, for my business. You can’t tell me that!???”

To me, this represents a conversation that I have had numerous times. And the reaction I get from uttering just two words is always one of part anger, part frustration, and part incredulous.  Never-mind that it is the correct, and ethically sound answer. Nope – the small business owner is already frustrated with you. But that’s OK.  In looking at my new friend the Interior Designer/Kiosk Operator, it was clear to me that marketing was just as strange to him as color palettes and feng shui is to me.

Not only am I convinced that this was the right answer for him, I am convinced that this is the right answer for every small business owner. As a whole, small business owners must understand themselves, their customers, their goals and their business first before even thinking about the proper marketing mix. And apparently, I’m in good company.

Last week, Ad Age commented on Facebook’s plan to increase ad sales exponentially by targeting small business owners. But first, for this plan to work, small business owners must understand branding. With so many priorities to address in the day-to-day, this is a major point:

Before focusing on advertising, Facebook’s first objective should be to help small businesses understand the importance of branding, and give them the tools to identify, develop and leverage the unique brand attributes that make their goods and services distinct from their competition. Key questions must be answered if small businesses hope to craft optimal advertising strategies that meet their broad objectives and reinforce their image with customers. For example:

  • What does our business stand for?
  • What’s our niche?
  • What’s our brand promise?
  • Who are our customers?
  • What makes us different and better than our competitors?
  • What’s the emotional connection we want our customers to associate with our brand?


Small business owners have too much on their plate to take on yet another major project. Thankfully, this is why I have a career. And understanding the answers to the questions above is just the start of that process. Even if you have a full understanding of your brand, that doesn’t mean you’ll have the answer to what type of marketing you would need. Each business is unique, as are its goals, its niche, and its customers.

So you see, to determine which marketing to use, well…really…

It depends.

Practicing What I Preach: Networking

marketing small business

I’m a fan of networking. I love getting to know folks, and learning what it is they are doing, both professionally and personally. I love to be that person in the room or at the table who – when a problem arises – can boldly  state: I know someone who I think can help.

MP900385571So, of course, I was naturally curious when I saw the LinkedIn post from the New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson yesterday, Network With Your Peers, Not Your Superiors. By and large the advice he provides is good I think. I do believe that it is important to one’s career to network. And I do believe, it is also good to get to know your peers on a deeper level – yes, actually build a relationship with them.

For me, the moment that the power of networking clicked was in reading Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. He suggests more than a few hard and fast rules, but these are some the stuck out for me.

One, don’t keep score.

Two, you must constantly ping (like sonar on a submarine) your network so as to build and maintain your relationship.

I mention this second observation for a reason. As much as I’d  like to think I am a good networker, I feel like working to maintain relationships is an area I need  to spend some time to improve. I don’t do nearly enough to build and keep relationships on solid ground as I should.

I thought about how I could score myself in that area, showcasing the areas of opportunity to improve. And of course, I turned to LinkedIn for this exercise – specifically, to my contacts page. And my suspicion was correct: I have not had a conversation, let alone sent a note or email, to over 75% of my contacts in over 6 months, or more in some cases.

How’s that for relationship building.

On the flip side, I also know that it is largely due to my personal relationship with several of my contacts that I was able to spearhead the launch a small business degree program at my college.

What does it all mean?

Simply this: networking is only beneficial if you put the time and energy into it. And like blogging, or anything else for that matter, it takes time and discipline to build and maintain.

And it seems to me like the time to reach out, and reconnect is long overdue.



Grudge Match: Content Marketing v. Earned Media

PR Small Business

I subscribe to countless newsletters and e-mail alerts. I read numerous articles and receive even more via e-mail. Some I read religiously (I’ll meet or tweet with you one day, Seth Godin); others I glance over and move on to the next task. The CyberAlert blog typically falls into the later category, but the  latest post caught my attention (which is what good post titles should do, so mission accomplished):

Why Content Marketing Will Never Beat Earned  Media.

Now, for those of you not familiar with the term “earned media,” it is defined as publicity earned  through promotional efforts other than advertising; the natural results of public/media relations efforts, events, ad campaigns and the content that you create within your owned media channels.

Get  it? Yeah, I know.

Think word-of-mouth, buzz, and “objective” news articles = earned media. PR Small BusinessContent Marketing on the other hand, is owned media, or media generated through your company’s blog.

OK – now that we’ve got the particulars out of the way, the post goes on to say:

Content marketing can not replace earned media. The most successful companies partner with the media rather than try to replace it with content marketing.

Immediately, I got defensive to this  line of thought. This  is a very lopsided view for anyone to take, let alone a successful business, small or large. The post goes on to say that while content marketing shouldn’t be abandoned, it should be used sparingly. However, earned media is much more valuable due to some compelling factors such as “consumers trust earned media,” and consumer value the truth because “Earned media is largely free of corporate meddling and bias.”

Again – and coming from a guy who’s calling his blog Perfecting Naivety – this is a dangerously naive assumption, and thus a dangerous piece of advice.

First, for every data point used in the post, I could provide a counterpoint data source to argue the opposite. Secondly – for any small business owner in the San Diego area (and many other cities with a large and  thriving Small Business economy), while word of mouth falls under the earned media moniker, the author here  is speaking largely about PR. Not every small business could afford to have a PR department, or an agency of record to generate earned media.

So then what? What’s a company to do if earned media is too hard too expensive, too much to handle?

The answer is everyone’s least favorite: it depends.

It depends on you, your company, your services or products, your goals, your budget, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what is working, what isn’t working…it  all depends.

And like a good investment strategy, there is not one marketing channel or marketing method that will win the day for your business. Diversify: use content marketing, traditional marketing, earned media, paid media. Then test, measure and analyze the results, adjust and move on with what works, dumping what doesn’t.

At the end of the day, it’s not about defining what’s better; it’s about defining what’s better for you and your business through a strategic plan and the measurement of results.

Anyone telling you something different is just plain naive.

A New Beginning: My Last Film Post

So blogging and I have had a unique relationship in the last few years. Every time I think I am finished, the bug starts to gnaw  at my need “to be heard.” (I just can’t quit you!) I’ve been doing a lot  of reading over the past year, and I’ve dressed up the site a bit since you may have been here last.

Little did I know when I wrote the post”The End is Near” did I know that the topic would begin

Cinepolis San Diego

Cinepolis San Diego

the birthing  process of an entirely separate site – familyroomfilmcritic.com – where I will continue my musings on all things film-related, though with a slightly different bent. If you have enjoyed my movie grousings and grumblings here on Perfecting  Naivety, I encourage you to go take a look at the new site. I have a vision for where I’d like to take it…if you like what you see, there are some bigger plans percolating.

In the time away from the blog, I’ve come to realize I want to do something different. With the absence of film commentary, Perfecting Naivety will now host observations in a variety of different areas that inspires me. In my professional life, I am challenged to keep abreast of many industries, yet have no outlet to comment. By now, with the new design elements, you can guess the areas in which I will be commenting:

  • Leadership: In the business – no matter the industry – we have a plethora of examples, both good (Hello, Mr. Branson) and bad (Do I have to say hello to David Sterling?) to choose from, and learn.
  • By day, I am the marketing director of a small career college here in San Diego. The changes that have taken place in Marketing from the time I earned my MBA (marketing emphasis) to today is absolutely astounding, and it shows no evidence of slowing down.
  • In the recent political climate, Education has been a hot topic – particularly, the for-profit sector. I aim to write about the changes to the entire education landscape, with a bent as to how it’s shifting and changing under each political leadership.
  • I am blessed to also be able to help my college launch a Small Business degree program. In San San Diego Small BusinessDiego, 90% of the economy is made up of small business, providing over 60% of the economic drivers here. In a recent survey, Forbes named San Diego the number one city in the country to launch a small business. In the past month alone, the San Diego EDC has recorded that The private sector outperformed by adding 3,400 jobs in the month of April. Suffice to say, there  is a lot going on here.
  • Finally – I wouldn’t be the man I am today without my family. So expect the occasional musing on my struggles to be a better dad, husband, brother, and son.
  • The Film and Entertainment section will stay put, but only as an archive of sorts. I feel like there  are some really good articles in that section, so if someone happened to stumble on a post or two that lead them to follow the new site – bonus!

I hope you like the new direction I am taking with Perfecting Naivety. I am excited about the change and I hope you’ll join me in this new direction. For the first time, I have some modest expectations as I throw a variety of  different topics into the giant Martini-shaker of the blog-o-sphere (shaken, not stirred) to see how it tastes. My hope still remains that you will see – on Mondays and Wednesday – an inspired concoction of the things that make us all wake up each day with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose.