Social media enables celebrities to have intimate and frequent contact with fans. In particular, Instagram has served to give us a glimpse inside the daily lives of our favorite stars. Social media has also given birth to an entirely new breed of celebrities, YouTube “content creators,” who have a huge impact among tweens and teens.

When a celebrity endorses a product via TV commercial or infomercial it’s obvious that it’s an advertisement. Now the lines are blurred. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, in 2009 the Federal Trade Commission issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC clearly explains the rules and makes it easy to accomplish by simply using #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in a post.

Beyonce 7

Beyonce is Crazy in Love with Airbnb

After the Super Bowl, Beyonce shared on Facebook a photo with the caption, “It was a Super weekend Airbnb” with a link to the Airbnb Facebook page. Neither the superstar nor the company will confirm if she was paid for the endorsement or comped the accommodation. If this was the case, then Beyonce would need to disclose that on the post.

Another example is Reese Witherspoon who has started a company, Draper James, and on Instagram frequently shares images of herself wearing the clothing. None of these indicate that she has a financial involvement in the company.

Best FDA Letter Ever

In August 2015, Kim Kardashian and Duchesnay admitted that she was paid for her endorsement of morning sickness medication, Diclegis, via Instagram. The post initially received attention for resulting in a letter from the Food and Drug Administration regarding her lack of fair balance in the post. Kardashian also did not note that there was a paid relationship.

Will the FTC Respond?

These are only the most popular examples, but a few months ago Jezebel identified many more personalities who are ignoring the FTC guidelines. Beyonce, Kardashian and Witherspoon are extremely sophisticated marketers with carefully curated social feeds, so it surprises me that they haven’t been made aware of the potential issues with the FTC. Perhaps it will take the FTC going after a high profile personality to make others compliant.

We conducted a survey of 37 Millennials this week to learn more about the relevance of the Super Bowl in their lives.  Some pretty cool insights.  Here’s what we learned.

Commercials Only vs. Game Only — if Millennials have to choose between just watching commercials or just watching the game, they are evenly divided.  Either way, they are entertained.

When We Watch Ads – if you are a millennial in college, you start watching super bowl videos and available ads the week before the game.  If you are working post-college, there is a strong preference to watch videos and ads the week after the game.  Very interesting.  Basically, if you are in school, you have more time on your hands and you walk by a lot of pre-game promotion within the University, so you’re more active pre-game.  If you are working for a living, you don’t have as much free time anymore, so it’s perfectly cool to let the marketplace decide who the winners and losers are…..and then they benefit from this crowdsourcing.

Make Me Laugh….or I Don’t Care As Muchthe Super Bowl is an evening of entertainment.  In that spirit, millennials overwhelmingly want commercials that are funny.  Commercials that are emotional or educational are not their choice.  And if you make millennials laugh, you then earn the right to add in some education or emotion.   Brittany literally laughed at this insight as she said “If I’m with my friends, I want to hear a beer commercial that is funny.  I don’t want to hear about all of the side effects of a new drug during the Super Bowl.”

Rethink What $5MM Can Do in the World – we always say that millennials are growing up to be aware and concerned citizens of the world.  Slightly more than 50% said they thought $5MM for a 30 second commercial is not worth it.  So we asked them to make a choice on what they would do with this money.  Overwhelmingly, they said they would choose to build 714 water wells in Malawi and Mozambique at $7,000 per well or pay the utility bill for 20,000 families in February ($250 per family) rather than create a commercial.  This shows what an enormous opportunity there is for a company to have the courage to NOT create a commercial next year and, instead, help the world….and then let us know of this choice the week before the Super Bowl.  Someone will do this right in the future.

Olympics More Relevant than the Super Bowl –given a choice, millennials view the Olympics as a sporting event that gets their attention whether or not they like sports.

Ads Do Work – About 80% of millennials said they take action on an ad now and then.  Nothing controversial here.  Ads can work and always have if done well.

Broncos Favored Just Barely – by a vote of 19-18, the Broncos are the favorite.  That’s surprising to us since the quarterback for Carolina is a Millennial and the quarterback for Denver is Gen X.  But, of course, if Cam Newton scores a few times and does the Dab, Brittany and her fellow millennials will be pulling for the Panthers.  Bob will continue to pull for Peyton and will not understand that he just saw a Dab, since he can only remember “a little dab’ll do ya” Brylcreem commercials.

Now time to prepare the Nachos…….enjoy the game.


Brittany and Bob



Super Bowl Ad Review


The Super Bowl audience is 46% female according to Nielsen data, and something like 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women—so you’d think that advertisers paying around $4.5 million to run a 30-second spot, would have figured out long ago that they’d want to appeal to us. Or, at the very least, not alienate. Well, the message may finally have gotten through.

This year’s ads were more inclusive than in the past, likely in large part because of the NFL’s terrible year as regards to scandal, abuse and sexism. Brands advertising in the Super Bowl were particularly sensitive to not seeming to endorse any of that bad behavior. (The NFL donated airtime for a gripping “No More” PSA addressing domestic violence.)

Super Bowl tweetsMany female creative directors, including myself, participated in a live Super Bowl Tweetup organized by The 3% Conference using the hashtags #3percentsb, #mediawelike and #notbuyingit. (The 3% Conference, founded by Kat Gordon & Rebecca Rivera, builds the case for more female representation in advertising leadership.)

The general consensus seemed to be satisfaction that there were only a few egregiously offensive ads. (Yes, we’re talking to you Carl’s Jr.) There weren’t many ads where women were portrayed as half-dressed eye candy (Ahem, Victoria’s Secret.) Even GoDaddy was a non-offender with an understated ad that made its point. There were noticeable efforts toward more equal representation of men and women (WeatherTech showed women working as equals next to men), challenging of clichéd gender stereotypes long outdated by real life (Dove’s Men+Care), more multiculturality and inclusivity (Toyota and Microsoft featured a Paralympic athlete and an active little boy with prosthetics. Dodge featured older people, and not purely for comedic relief. Loctite Glue had a diverse mix but were we laughing with them or at them?) I also enjoyed the realistic father-daughter relationship in Toyota Camery’s “My Bold Dad”.

That’s not to say that an ad is great just because it presents a more positive and realistic view of women. But great creative can’t afford to only be relevant to half its audience.


#LikeAGirl • The empowering “Like a Girl” spot from Always/Procter and Gamble got the hastag #LikeAGirl trending. Jet Blue quickly joined the conversation, tweeting a photo of two female pilots flying.


Fiat Super Bowl Ad• Fiat’s “Pill” was a well-played twist on that little blue pill that engaged both men and women, and strongly communicated the product benefit.



BMW• BMW’s “Newfangled” was humorous and charming, but next time Katie should drive and ask Bryant if he can twerk. (Women are responsible for 65% of new car purchases.)



Nationwide_Mindy• Nationwide Insurance has a gem in “Invisible Mindy”. Who hasn’t looked around the conference room and wondered if she was invisible? The execution was great but the line that tied it to Nationwide flew by so fast I almost missed it—Join the Nation that sees you as a priority. Nationwide. On your side.”

Coca Cola

• “Download Happiness” from Coca Cola admirably took on bullying and hate speech, changing mean messages into positive ones.


View all the ads here:

And tell me what you think…

There are two things you should know about me:

  1. I love football… in particular the New England Patriots (lifelong fan) and
  2. I work at a company that lives and breaths analytics.

So what do you get when you combine these two passions? A fun infographic that shows the volumes of tweets mentioning each team, which words Patriots and Giants fans fancied during the Super Bowl and a few of the choice tweets from the live Twitter stream.

What was interesting as I worked with my colleagues Patrick Donnelly (the inspiration and creator of this infographic) and Seth Duncan was that when we first pulled data on the volume of Patriots versus Giants tweets, the former outweighed the latter by a huge margin. While we all know New England/Boston fans can be loudmouths (I can say that as someone that was born and raised there), we knew that New Yorkers not only have more fans but I also haven’t met many New Yorkers that don’t have the gift of gab at least equal to their New England counterparts.

Upon further digging into the data we collected, Patrick found that there was an unexpected reason for the numerous “Patriots” mentions during the Super Bowl. Yes, apparently many of our friends to the south were using the “F” word and “Patriots” in the same tweets with much greater volume than Patriots fans were. So what did our quick analysis of Twitter conversations during the Super Bowl prove? In this case, not much other than the fact that maybe we have more potty mouths in New York than we do in New England (our Puritanical routes be damned!)

The moral of the story? Data always tells a story but can sometimes throw us a red herring if we don’t dig down deep enough.

It only took 1 second for me to give Clint Eastwood my undivided attention during halftime at the Super Bowl. This is what I was waiting for all day – not the farcical ads, the spoofs, the cameo celebrity appearances. I wanted to be wowed, to be impressed with smart thinking that makes me believe in a product.

The reason I tune into Super Bowl commercials is because of the precedent set by Apple’s 1984 ad. It was unlike anything you’d seen before: that’s what the Super Bowl commercial is supposed to do. Chrysler moved us last year with Eminem and the “Imported from Detroit” theme, but this year they did themselves one better. They transcended beyond the brand – and evolved the campaign to stand for the American Auto Industry as a whole, brought to you by Chrysler. It packed an emotional whallop that made you believe in the power of innovation and was a rallying cry for the American spirit which has stalled in recent years. Hear our engines roar. Powerful copy, a great story – delivered poignantly and powerfully by Clint Eastwood.

I can’t remember the last time a brand achieved all that in 60 seconds. As I started up my Jeep this morning, I felt more connected to Chrysler than I had since I bought my car. Well done.