The Mahomes (and Chiefs) Mindset for Marketers

I have now watched over 15 hours of the SuperBowl LIII, and that’s not counting the ads. That’s a lot, for a chap who doesn’t even understand all the rules of the game. But apart from all the ads which are being discussed all over the world by all and sundry, I view the Super Bowl itself and the marketing hype around it as the acme of advertising and marketing.

Along with the US PResidential elections, they set the bellwether for marketers. For those who don’t know, the US Elections, for instance, introduced us to focused segmented marketing and digital fundraising, courtesy Obama’s campaign, and to dark marketing and custom audiences courtesy Mr Trump’s run in 2016.

This year’s Super Bowl ads, at USD 7m for 30 seconds, showed us how humour had never gone away and had huge appeal, and how celebrities could be used without hagiography, but in fact worked better when mocking themselves.

And of course it was a special one, when Taylor Swift arrived from Tokyo and stole the show. Usher performing in the presence of Tay Tay would have created immense pressure, and Kelce, her boyfriend lost it with his coach when he was not in a play. He threw a very  public tantrum which everyone is attributing to the presence of billionaire Taylor in the corporate suite.

Having said that, the actual Super Bowl game itself is what has caught my attention. With the advances in technology, the NFL actually has put microphones on the players and coaches, so you can get an audio feed. The best video to watch is actually the Super Bowl Mic’d up, and it is revealing. Some pointers for all of us marketers:

NEVER GIVE UP, KEEP INNOVATING:

Patrick Mahomes II was intercepted: that means his pass was caught by the opposition. This is a rarity and a big booboo. Furthermore, he went through the first quarter with no points, and almost the first half without points on the board. Something that hadn’t happened in 218 games. And yet he persevered: we can here him goading his teammates on, and thinking of different plays and formations to run, even when the chips were down. 

Finally the Chiefs won the game in overtime, with 3 seconds left on the clock. This was via a play call that was a “fake” play: make it seem to your opponents that you are going the other way. This was the year the Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to be beatable: his willpower ensured they came through. 

As marketers are you facing product boycotts? Are you struggling to understand TikTok and digital in general? You need to persevere and innovate. You must not sit on the fence or keep waiting for the situation to resolve itself. 

KNOW THE RULES:

The Chiefs knew how overtime rules had changed, when the game was tied 19-19 in regulation time. Their opponents, the gallant San Francisco 49ers did not. So even when the 9ers won the coin toss, they chose to receive. Which may not be wise as the Chiefs, hence going second, would know the target they have to beat. And beat it they did.

Knowing the boundaries of what you can and cannot do is sound logic for innovating in marketing.

ADMIT MISTAKES AND MAKE UP:

The game-winning touchdown was collected by Mecole Hardman Jr. He had left Kansas and  joined the New York Jets in March 2023. Things didn’t work out there, and he returned to Kansas in October. Both parties had forgiven each other, admitted they need each other, and won a Super Bowl 5 months later. 

As marketers, we will get things wrong. Often. Especially with social media blunders and more. But how we own up, re-set and go forward is key. 

STAY HUNGRY IF YOU WANT TO WIN:

The Chiefs had won the Super Bowl last year. This is their  4th Super Bowl in 5 years. Would they have enough motivation this year to do it again? In 20 years no team has won back to back. But the Chiefs had the hunger. They won back to back. And they are on track for an unprecedented threepeat: three in a row.

So let me leave you with the final game-winning play, a piece of mumbo jumbo that makes perfect sense: 

“Trips right bunch f shuttle, Tom and Jerry right yellow!”

Sandeep Joseph is the CEO and co-founder of Ampersand Advisory, a strategic media and data-driven consultancy. The company’s mission is “business results now!” and it has won numerous local and international awards.  The views expressed here are the author’s own: you can debate with him at [email protected]


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