Peyton Manning, Budweiser, and the value of your attention

Courtesy Jeffrey Beall. CC.
Courtesy Jeffrey Beall. CC.

If you watched the Super Bowl post-game coverage Sunday night, you might have heard Peyton Manning say he was going to drink Budweiser to celebrate the victory. He said it twice.

I guessed that he had to have been paid to bring it up. It turns out, he wasn’t.

How valuable were those comments to Budweiser? Here’s what Yahoo says:

Apex MG Analytics estimated that each mention brought Budweiser $1.6 million worth of brand value. That means Manning handed the brand $3.2 million in exposure

I don’t know how Apex MG Analytics built their estimate. And it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the fact that a celebrity simply mentioned a product’s name is valuable. Super valuable. (Pun intended. My apologies.)

Why is a simple mention so valuable? Sure, the celebrity part matters. Plenty of people look up to Peyton Manning. He’s one of the best football players of all time. People want that kind of association, even if it’s as simple as drinking what Peyton Manning drinks.

The issue is more profound than that. And yes, the story we tell ourselves, about ourselves, matters. We buy plenty of things we don’t need, simply because the purchase allows us to be the kinds of people we want to be.

I’m the kind of guy that indulges in a fancy smart watch. Or I’m the kind of guy that watches premium cable television shows. Or I’m the kind of guy…

You get the point.

The stories are an important part of what happens. What’s even more important, though, is the fact that we’re even thinking about any particular brand in the first place.

Think about how you spend your day. Think about what you think about. Now we’re getting meta.

I bet, if you drill down deep enough, you’ll admit you have surprisingly little control of what you think about. A stimulus sends you down a path. You think, and you think…until another stimulus comes along and shakes things up.

It happens from the moment you get out of bed in the morning. Maybe you wake up frustrated, because you were in the middle of a good dream when your alarm went off. Then you try to remember what you were dreaming about, which takes you down a rabbit hole. Or, staying in your frustrated mood, you quickly imagine all the other frustrating things that are likely to happen to you that day.

Maybe you wake up with a headache, then you think about how long it’ll take before the headache goes away, and what you should eat or drink to feel better more quickly.

If you check your phone in the morning, you think about the weather forecast. Or the most recent email you received. Or the first big news headline that shows up.

The first person you see is probably going to say something to you. Conversation is a stream of stimuli.

You listen to music, which makes you remember someone else, at some other place, at some other time. You hear an advertisement, or see a billboard, or walk by a poster…all aimed at grabbing your attention, if only for a moment.

That’s the really valuable bit. Just getting you to think about whatever is being advertised. I’m sure you go whole days, weeks, even months without thinking of Budweiser. But the Super Bowl made thinking about Budweiser unavoidable. Even if you missed all the commercials, Peyton Manning talked about it after the game…twice.

That matters. Even if there is a 0% chance you’d buy a Budweiser…they got your attention. They got in your head. Their awareness went up, even if some folks resented it. Plenty of other folks would soon make a decision about what beer they wanted to drink, and now Budweiser was in their head.

Maybe they didn’t buy Budweiser. Maybe they did. But Budweiser was at least there, part of the calculus, when tons of other beers weren’t.

Yes, this post is about the power of marketing. Your attention is valuable to people in charge of matching brands with customers. Don’t ignore something as simple as a celebrity casually mentioning what beer he’s about to drink. That stuff matters a bunch.

This post is also about the power of controlling your own thoughts. You don’t have as much say in that process as you’d like. Still, you can try to eliminate the noise.

Be deliberate about when, and how, you check your phone. Be deliberate about what you watch or listen to. Be deliberate about what you read.

In a lot of cases, there’s not only a “what”. There’s also a “where”. If you get your news from the web, you might see ads that you could avoid by going to a dedicated app. Likewise, you might be able to download podcasts automatically via subscription, rather than manually downloading them and maneuvering through the ads along the way.

Advertising isn’t bad. It is pervasive, though. Marketers take your attention seriously. Do you?

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