Some of the best marketing moments around the Super Bowl have been unplanned. We all remember Oreo capitalizing on the 2013 Super Bowl blackout with the infamous "You can still dunk in the dark" Tweet. Pure genius. Yet for most brands it takes months of planning and coordinating marketing campaigns in order to get everything right for their big game debut. With so much investment going into building and executing campaigns, how can brands ensure success? This year, with the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, the city had a chance to debunk the “fly over state” reputation and really go big (or should I say go BOLD) with the rebranding of the region to “The Bold North”.
According to FastCo since the last time Minneapolis hosted in the Super Bowl in 1992, “the state has been on a full-on campaign to embrace its wintry reputation as something to celebrate, rather than something to bemoan.” While they may have flopped in ’92, they seemed to have nailed it in 2018 and embodied the pride of many Minnesotans who embrace “The Bold North”. Here are the key things marketers can learn from “The Bold North” rebrand:
Embrace the perception, don’t fight against it
Yes, Minnesota is cold. Believe me it has taken some adjustment time for this Native Californian trying to survive my first winter. The Bold North campaign and even the tag line, embrace this truth. But how they shifted the chilly-reality into a badge of honor, really stands out in the campaign’s mission: “We are the Bold North. It’s who we are, what we do, and how we do things.” The Bold North took the public opinion of how miserably cold the region can be and influenced perception to create strong sense of place.
Be authentic to your brand
First and foremost, this is always number one. Minnesota is not trying to be the next Denver or Austin, the Bold North is a flavor of its own. The campaign aims to showcase the diverse and innovative culture of Minnesota, one that includes a focus on arts, science and medicine among other key industries. It does not set out to position Minneapolis as anything but what it is – a northern region full of opportunity and a personality of its own.
One of the greatest things about Minnesota is the wide range of industries, activities and highlights the city has to offer. By keeping the campaign messaging and mission short yet relatable to a broad range of people, it really helped in creating an identity. It can be extremely hard to achieve this when you’re branding a place or region as you have a wide range of very different groups to include in the campaign.
While The Bold North served primarily as an advertising campaign for Minnesota during its time as the host of Super Bowl LII, the way the initiative captured the identity of the state, what is has to offer and the experience visitors get, it has all the makings of being a message that serves as true north for the state of Minnesota for years to come.
It turned out one company’s branding campaign had catalyzed an actual identity movement, one deeply connected to the state’s large, ethnically Scandinavian population.