Hey guys, did you know Peyton Manning retired?

Marketing/Advertising August 29, 2016 10:49 am


Breaking news: Peyton Manning retired from the NFL. Or, why a great insight isn’t universally applicable.

The 2016 NFL Season hasn’t even started yet, but at least two brands want to make sure you remember Peyton Manning has retired in nearly identical spots. The first, from DirecTV, “It’s Peyton on a Sunday morning” promotes the brand’s Sunday Ticket offering, which allows subscribers to watch every Sunday NFL game live on any device:

It’s a smart campaign that stems from a really simple (yet powerful) insight: Peyton Manning has a lot of free time on Sunday now that he’s retired, which means he can take advantage of DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket. The campaign does a great job communicating DirecTV’s value proposition to consumers.

But the same insight doesn’t translate nearly as well to the other brand relying on Manning’s retirement for their campaign. In the Papa John’s spot “Cupcakes,” the VO comments, “you’ve gotta wonder what he’s doing on game day now.” Unsurprisingly, given the spot’s name, it has to do with cupcakes:

Apparently now that Manning has retired, he’s become a master cupcake decorator. Which has nothing to do with Papa John’s and selling pizza. The insight that Manning has more free time on Sundays is superfluous and wasted, and doesn’t benefit the brand. Why isn’t Manning making or delivering pizza? Manning actually owns 21 stores in the Denver area, so seeing Manning as a delivery boy or prepping pizza would have paid off the insight in favor of the brand in a much more compelling way.

Both of these campaigns were born from the same insight, but while the DirecTV campaign comes across as strategic and smart, the Papa John’s campaign falls flat. The difference is in the relevance of the insight to the brand’s value proposition. Retirement = more time to watch games on Sunday with DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket. This gives consumers a clear reason to switch to DirecTV. The campaign is logical, clear, and doesn’t require the consumer to “work” to understand it. But retirement = more time to decorate cupcakes with Papa John’s doesn’t work. It doesn’t connect the insight to selling pizzas in any way. The only reason this campaign has a chance of succeeding is that because it’s so quirky and ridiculous, it may stick with consumers. But it’s a waste of an insight and a waste of an opportunity.

Interestingly enough, both campaigns were created by Grey. I don’t want to overreach and assume, but it does seems like the same strategists worked across the two campaigns and simply recycled the insight. I don’t blame them for loving the insight– it’s really great, and I can understand why they’d be attached to it. But it’s not universally applicable and shouldn’t have been used for the Papa John’s campaign.*

It’s a great reminder for fellow strategists that we need to hold ourselves accountable and be rigorous in making sure our insight is not only truthful, but also relevant to the brand campaign we’re working on.


*I’m assuming the Papa John’s campaign came second to DirecTV… but if the insight was created with Papa John’s in mind, that’s an entirely different post.

images pulled from DirecTV and Papa John’s spots.

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