Brands are like people. Some are interesting, some are crazy, some are as boring as a 2020 Friday night. Some we relate to, some we don’t and some you’d never want to be seen with. Once a year we spend three hours with all of them. Hello, Super Bowl. After everything that has happened, will this year be different? Will all the brands (ahem, people) be worthy of mingling in your living room?
Will they be good guests or will the state of the world bring everyone down? Will they be fun, entertaining, interesting? Will they have something to say? Will they behave differently because they think they should?
We will see on Sunday. A party isn’t a party without an eclectic mix of people. The interesting ones have lots of anecdotes and stories. Some will rock up with a big, cool friend (hey, Bill Murray is here!). The fun ones will tell jokes and do stupid things that make you laugh, remember when all we could say was “WASSUP!”? Or when Mountain Dew brought his Puppy Monkey Baby? The serious ones, like Google, seem to know how you feel, say something poignant and have you nodding along. You’re not crying, that’s just Cheetos dust in your eye. When it gets close to the end of the game and you’ve had a few beers, yeah, you get a bit weepy.
You avoid the person who drones on about himself and look over the shoulder of the guy who constantly interrupts to tell us about the next amazing cable show we have to see—hey buddy, after this we’re switching to Netflix to watch “Bling Empire.”
Will Super Bowl LV be the same? The same group of people jostling for our attention, having a laugh, doing something big and crazy to make us notice them? Or will there be a few more somber guests? The last time we got together was right before the world changed. No more parties, no more vacations, no more normal. We didn’t know it at the time, but in many cases that was the last big get together we had with our friends. Will we want to be taken back to that innocent time or to focus on what’s happening now?
Will people be worried about saying the wrong thing? Many have stepped up politically and said out loud what they believe in. Thank you. Please say what you mean. Don’t tell us what you think we want to hear. We sure as hell don’t want to hear whispering in hushed tones, wringing hands and repeating over and over, “in times like these.” We were done with that in the first week of the pandemic.
Don’t behave differently at Super Bowl than you would anywhere else. Nobody likes a fake. Don’t pretend to care when we know you don’t. If you show up, be yourself or don’t bother. The Skittles guy won’t be quoting poetry, the Dodge guy won’t be doing fart jokes and the Chipotle guy won’t be lighting fireworks at halftime.
This year, like every year, new guests will introduce themselves while some old friends will stay home. Bud, Coke and Kia will sit this one out. We get it. It might be weird. What do you say when so much has gone down? Acknowledge it or don’t? Then there are those newcomers who will happily step into the big guests spots, Fiverr, DraftKings and Indeed. Will they enjoy the party or look like crashers? And then there is the party crew of Uber Eats ready to ”Party on, excellent!”
Whatever any of these guests do—be it in our living rooms or daily business—they should be real and authentic. A good party needs all the people, the serious, the silly, the sad sacks and the weirdos. It takes all sorts. If everyone tries to be funny, then no one is funny. If everyone is serious, it’s not a party. This party will be a reflection of the times, like all Super Bowls and that in itself is perhaps comforting in times as mental as these. Just show up and be human. That’s all a brand can do.