Meaning Everything to a Few Is Meaningful Media

Monday, February 3rd.

It’s 6 am in NYC.

Every morning, the first thing I do when I wake up–before I kiss my nonexistent partner–is grab my phone to check out social media, and today it is all about the Super Bowl.

As an American in the making, I tried to understand the rules of the game by watching it last night. Aside from the team in red who won the game, I was really impressed by J. Lo’s performance during the halftime show as much as I enjoyed the creativity of the $5M+ ads.

I’m part of Havas, so this question now strikes me more and more often–are these very expensive ads meaningful? With the exception of the Weight Watchers ad with Oprah and The Rock, which was synced on Instagram as a sponsored story, it seems many of the conversations they create are more about the buzz itself rather than the positive impact the brands have on the everyday lives of consumers. Spending this much money on a TV ad is clearly NOT the future of marketing.

I’ll say it in other words: Brands that have a meaningful impact are the smart ones, earning it by spending their ad money wisely. Since you’re asking, one brand did it right and you’ve probably never heard about it before, but you probably know its new owner.

On Instagram, 4 days before the Super Bowl, Ryan Reynolds posted this picture of himself holding the New York Times with an ad for his brand on the back page.

You read that right. The actor, with over 34M followers, decided to boycott the exorbitant TV ad offering and give away 3-month wireless plans to anyone who subscribed to Mint Mobile during the Super Bowl instead. Last night, when the game started, Reynolds shared another post to tell his followers the offer was live and, before the final whistle, this marketing genius posted a story to let everyone know that the offer was extended to midnight EST due to “ the high demand.”

Reynolds was joined in that boycott by former UFC champion, Conor McGregor, who also leveraged his organic reach on Instagram to promote his own whiskey.

The point here is that some brands are winning by meaning everything to a few and not a little something to many. Brands can’t buy culture just as people can’t buy respect, but they can create meaningful connections by targeting their audiences in a clever way, in a context that makes sense to them.