Choosing a spokesperson? Make sure they resonate

As a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I didn’t have much of a stake in this year’s Super Bowl (although I was hoping for Mahomes to upset Brady … in more ways than one). 

But like most Americans with only a passing interest in the “Big Game,” I focused on the commercials.

They were, truth be told, more entertaining than the halftime show, but that’s another issue.

I was struck by the megamillion-dollar decisions Madison Avenue made this year. Hawking everything from vehicles to food delivery were retro icons such as Bruce Springsteen, John Travolta, Edward Scissorhands and – gosh, I thought they disappeared before the second term of the Clinton Administration – Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in their Wayne’s World basement. 

The ads’ Baby-Boomer slant was even more puzzling in light of the current behemoth buying power of American Millennials.

I quizzed my daughter, a current grad student who watched the game with friends, all in their mid-20s. Did they know who these people were? And if not, did the commercials resonate?

Turns out, they knew some (Edward Scissorhands, John Travolta) and parsed out others. The Waynes World crew, for example, wasn’t identifiable, but they “got” the idea of a cheap talk show (even if they did frame it as an amateur YouTube channel rather than an underground cable station). Cardi B’s presence helped, too.

Bruce, sad to say, was a mystery. My daugher identified him as “…that old guy driving around and singing about America.”

The takeaway, then, is to step back before committing your marketing budget to a vintage spokesperson. Sure, “retro” is in now, but if the message won’t resonate (use your focus groups,) that’s hard dollars out the window.

F’r sure… totally.

Dan Weckerly is an experienced public relations professional currently counseling a number of companies local to the Lehigh Valley. He can be reached at dweck140@gmail.com. 

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