I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the best time of year.

The weather is changing. Flowers are blooming. The days are longer.

And March Madness has arrived.

I know most of you, like me, will be spending a lot of time filling out brackets trying to crack the code. ESPN will be on a lot, and work productivity will reach all time lows. You’ll root for the underdog and celebrate the heroics.

There’s a lesson to be learned during tournament time, the lesson of having a powerful brand.

Everyone loves the underdog this time of year. Upsets are a tournament novelty that American can’t get enough of. There’s just something about seeing Goliath fall that puts a little bit of hope in all of us.

Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn’t see it that way.

Every year there’s a big fuss about which teams squeak into the tournament and this year is no exception. Mediocre teams like Syracuse and Pitt made it over mid-majors with way better records like Monmouth.

Why is that?

Well the obvious answer is money, but the sub-answer to that is branding.

Teams like Syracuse and Pitt have a massive following and their school brands are strong. The list of Pitt and Syracuse alum run a lot deeper than any mid-major. Someone who doesn’t follow college hoops will be more likely to tune into an Orange or Panther game.

How does a smaller school build themselves up to those levels?

It’s a lot of factors. Winning is the most important but timing and a splash of luck play a role.

The best example of this is Butler.

The bulldogs went on a tear a few years ago and gained so much momentum that now they’re part of the Big East Conference. Sure, this isn’t the Big East Kemba Walker controlled but it’s still one of the major conferences in America. Butler made it to the National Championship Game and beat a lot of name brands (Pitt) along the way. They even took out my dear alma mater, ODU.

Anyway, Butler has built it’s own brand and now will get the benefit of the doubt during tournament time in regards to being invited and even seeding.

So, let’s review.

If a mid-major wants the same love as bigger schools then they need to win and win at the right time against the right team.

Side bar: who ya got this year?

As always, thanks for reading.

Paying Off

I’m not a gambling man. I work too hard for my money just to give it away to something when the odds are stacked against me.

Under Armour, on the other hand, likes to gamble.

The sports equipment company that was founded in a basement is now hot on heels of Nike and has already surpassed Adidas. The unbelievable part of UA’s rise is that it’s only been in business for 20 years. Nike and Adidas have been around the block a lot longer.

So what’s their secret?

They took calculated gambles on “castaway” players.

Steph Curry is phenomenal. He’s the reigning NBA MVP and is on the verge of repeating that honor this year. When Steph entered the league everyone knew about his smooth jump shot but that’s about it. He was considered small with glass ankles. Now he’s an unstoppable force and it’s all thanks to UA. If you want a more in depth look into Steph’s journey feel free to click here.

Steph isn’t the only investment Under Armour has made that’s paid off. Cam Newton’s history making season has added to the UA stock.

Since we’re talking about it, let’s just state the fact that Under Armour has the four reigning MVPs signed to their roster (Step Curry, Bryce Harper, Cam Newton, and Carey Price). It doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady and Jordan Spieth in the wings too.

UA also makes a quality product for a reasonable price. I’ve read many reviews claiming that Under Armour’s shoes rival, and even surpass, Nike’s footwear. The company is truly on the upswing.

A swing that doesn’t have a end in site.

As always, thanks for reading.

Football, Pizza, Wings, Beer, and Advertising. I don’t have the data but if you polled America those would probably be the top five things associated with the Super Bowl. Football is over and I’m out of pizza, wings, and only have a few beers left so I guess the only thing to talk about is the advertisements. There were a lot of good ones this year, I really enjoyed most of them. Below are my top ten. Let’s get started.

Let’s dive in. Here is 10-6.

10. Mini USA: Defy Labels. 

Starting the list off will be recurring theme for me this year. Mini’s commercial may seem basic and something we’ve seen before. I agree but this commercial is bold.

I like bold.

Mini took every negative stereotype about its product and turns it into a positive. The sleek, deceptively spacious, vehicle opened the door to new audiences across the country.

Expanding your target audience during the Super Bowl? A huge win for Mini. 

9. Avocados from Mexico: #AvosInSpace 

Just like last year, Avocados from Mexico delivers with a wildly creative ad. The futuristic bit makes light fun of America’s social history. It delivers on every level in regards to pop culture digs. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan so the double dip reference at the end was the icing on the cake…..or avocado? 

You know what I mean. 

8. Heinz: Wiener Stampede 

 As a recently new dog owner this one pulled on the heartstrings. Heinz beautifully added imagery to condiments. The hot dog pun was perfect and the casting for each bottle, (did you see the cute kid?!!) was spot on. 

Well done Heinz, well done. 

7. Hyundai 

I’m cheating a little with this pick. Every single commercial Hyundai aired was great and set many different tones. You have the funny ads (like the one posted) and other ads that showed a more serious side to the car maker. Hyundai has a batting average of one thousand after last night. 

Hyundai invested a lot of money into this year’s Super Bowl. I wonder if they got a buy 3, get one free deal for the airtime? 

The Better Spot. 


The Chase 

6. Shock Top: Unfiltered Talk 

I get it, this kind of humor may not appeal to everyone. Shock Top took a risk but it’s sure to payoff. With TJ’s Deadpool movie coming out Friday it gives the Shock Top brand an indirect rub. The quick wit and jokes are right up his alley and it appears to be up Shock Top’s too. 

I’m thirsty. 

That’ll do it for the bottom half of my top ten Super Bowl L commercials. Click here for the top 5! 

Thanks for coming back to read my top 5 Super Bowl L commercials. If you missed 10-6 then click here

5. T-Mobile: Drop The Balls

Talk about turning a failure to success, or a phoenix rising from the ashes.

If Steve Harvey has taught us anything throughout his Miss Universe fiasco is the power of taking responsibility and being able to laugh at yourself. Yes, Harvey fell prey to the Twittersphere but now he’s getting the last laugh. The Steve Harvey brand is stronger than ever. 

Anyone else see the irony of a comedian going through something like this or is it just me?   

4.Toyota: The Longest Chase 

Toyota went the same route Mini did for the game this year. The goal was to change the view on a car that is mostly made fun of.

Mini did a good job with their ad but Toyota did a great job.

The longest chase shows the pros of the Prius while also showing America’s love for the little guy. 

Money well spent. 

3. Turkish Airlines: Fly to Gotham City/Metropolis

I had to catch this one online and I’m glad that I did. Most movies released the usual 30 second trailer during the Super Bowl but Batman v. Superman took an alternative route. Teaming up with Turkish Airlines to promote the film is pure genius. It also allows us to see the DC Universe for the upcoming film. If you weren’t excited about the movie then seeing Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor should, at the very least, peak your interest. 

Using a real airline to promote fictional cities adds a sense of realism the the film. DC has its work cut out if it wants to compete with Marvel but they’re on the right track with ads like this. 

Here is the Gotham trailer. 

2. Buick: Cascada Convertible

For years Buick has tried to change the narrative that their cars aren’t just for retirees. They’ve done a great job appealing to new audiences. It’s risky to use items that arefamous in pop culture but Odell’s catch is iconic and pays homage to it just right. Odell’s reputation on the field may have taken a hit but his star power is as strong as its ever been.  

Buick is starting to carve out piece of the automobile market. 

1.NFL: Super Bowl Babies 

The NFL gets a lot of things wrong. They way they handle domestic violence cases and other matters that affect the game are only a few black eyes the league has taken.

The one thing they do get right is advertising. The Super Bowl Babies spot was great. Using choirs of all different ages and etas id a great way to show the diversity of their fanbases. Having Seal there as a guide adds the little star power that pushed this over the top. 

As an Eagles fan it pained me to put this at number one. I’m not worried though, we will be making an appearance soon……hopefully. 

I know what you’re thinking, where is the Doritos ad? I enjoyed that one too but it ended being on the outside looking it. 

What do you think? Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know. 

Take a look at my top 5 worst ads from the Super Bowl. 

As always, thanks for reading.  

The Super Bowl isn’t just the biggest stage for the NFL’s biggest stars. It also serves as a platform for companies to build their brands. The Super Bowl and commercials are about as traditional as coffee after dessert. Brands are built, and torn down based on the events of one day. A lot of brands hit it out of the park this year. For these five, however, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. 

Here are my top 5 worst Super Bowl ads. 

5. Mobile Strike: Arnold’s War 

This ad was a little out there to me. All of a sudden an elevator full of strangers engage in a full out war? Maybe I’m thinking a little too deep since it’s an app but the overall commercial didn’t do anything special.

4. Bud Light: The Bud Light Party

I think a rule that often gets forgotten is that star power doesn’t equal greatness. I like Amy and Seth but this ad just didn’t click. Bud Light tried a little too hard with this one. The sexual innuendos are better suited for subtle jokes in a movie, not a 60 second spot where they’re smashed back to back. It seems like this campaign is just getting started so hopefully Amy and Seth can make some magic. 

3. LG: Man From The Future 

Taken meets Tron. 

That pretty much sums up the feel of this spot. Liam Neeson is a mysterious figure (sound familiar?) who opens a whole new world. I feel like if you pay Neeson to be in your ad he better disarm and beat someone up with three moves. 

2. Mountain Dew: Puppymonkeybaby 

What. The. Hell.

I guess Mountain Dew wanted to show America what life is like during an acid trip. The puppymonkeybaby creation is scary and will probably haunt a dream of mine in the near future. Manbearpig worked for South Park because it’s a cartoon and it was used to make fun of Al Gore. 

It’s time to shut this campaign down and kickstart a new one, immediately. 

1. Michelob ULTRA: Breathe 

When I first saw this ad three things ran through my mind. “Is this a gatorade commercial? Maybe Nike. No, Adidas.” Then when I saw the Michelob bottle I was confused. Why would a beer make an ad about working out? Wouldn’t that ruin the workout? After going to the gym I don’t crack open a beer to wind down. I get their, go the extra mile message, but it should have been aimed at how their beer goes that distance for quality, not health. 

What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. 

To see my top ten ads click here

As always, thanks fore reading.