Super Bowl

Olay’s Debatable Super Bowl Pivot

28 Jan , 2020  

One of the interesting brands to watch on this year’s sold-out Super Bowl is Olay, the global skin care brand owned by P&G. Olay advertised on the Super Bowl in 2019 but is taking a very different approach in 2020. It is not clear how well it will work.

Olay 2019

Last year Olay ran a classic and safe Super Bowl ad. The brand hired Sarah Michelle Gellar, famous for her role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to star in an ad that was a parody of a slasher film. The message was clear: Olay transforms your skin. You can watch the ad here.

The spot combined celebrity and high production values to deliver a clear and product focused message.

Olay 2020

This year, Olay is taking a very different approach, supporting a cause instead of focusing on a product benefit. The brand is partnering with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that works to increase the number of women in computer science.

Olay is still investing in celebrities. This year’s spot features Lilly Singh, Busy Philipps, Taraji Henson and Katie Couric, as well as a retired NASA astronaut. Olay is donating $1 for every Tweet using #MakeSpaceforWomen.

While the final spot is not yet available, the teaser seems to be very focused on the cause and space. You can watch a teaser of the ad here.

The Challenge

Olay’s shift is part of a trend in marketing. Brands are spending more and more time talking about causes, embracing a brand purpose. The theory is that employees and customers want to feel good about the brands they use and support.

The question is whether a cause really drives purchase. Will more people use Olay because the brand supports women going into computer science? Perhaps. I suspect the product benefit – its impact – is ultimately more important.

The challenge with cause marketing is that there needs to be a clear link between the brand and the cause. Patagonia, for example, fights for the environment, and that fits perfectly with its brand positioning. Verizon supported first responders in its Super Bowl ad, and that was a bit more a stretch. Budweiser promoted wind energy last year in its Super Bowl ad, and is not repeating that approach. I suspect people don’t pick a beer because it uses wind power.

Olay’s teaser spot certainly did not resonate well with my Kellogg MBA classes – people questioned the linkage and wondered about the questionable use of humor.

For P&G, and all the other brands embracing causes on the Super Bowl this year, creating a strong linkage is critical if the effort is going to produce results.



Leave a Reply

Archives

Conversation Across the Site

  • David Rose { This sounds very very difficult. You put alot of energy into it and obviosly care. I would suggest you focus on the room and let... }
  • M E Lesniak { I think you picked the wrong hill to stand on. You work at one of the most expensive degree factories in the country and I’m... }
  • Stephen Calkins { Forgiveness based on income? What if it is a wealthy family that figured borrowing cheaply was a good deal, but there is massive wealth? What... }
  • Todd Holscher { Transparency in pricing is a very good idea. Students will still susceptible to the influence of marketing and advertising by colleges, but it’s the right... }
  • Emita Hill { Vast sums of money. Alternatively provide more support to state schools so they can lower tuition and maybe to privates strictly for scholarships. }
  • David Rose { Tim, I dont think your views are balanced. You obviously are being paid by these loans. The money has been given to your university and... }
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.