When the world gets to grade your paper: Greg Hahn on having your work in the Super Bowl
“If you don’t want to get booed, play in your backyard” – Prince
Some thoughts for those creatives with work in this year’s Super Bowl (yeah I said Super Bowl, come after me, NFL).
First of all, congratulations. Just to make it through the gauntlet of what is the Super Bowl process at a lot of agencies and with a lot of clients is a Herculean accomplishment in and of itself. With all that’s at stake, overthinking and its partner second-guessing are waiting around every corner to kill or maim your innocent, fragile idea. So, kudos just for getting through to the final-final-rev24-alt5-v9 finish line.
The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest audience-shared experience of our time. (Asterisk for you, soccer fans.) It’s a moment in your career when your parents can tell their friends what you work on, and Uber drivers will say “oh yeah, I saw that,” when they ask what you do.
It’s also a moment when everyone, from A-list celebrities to high school friends, will have an opinion on your work. A unique time of year when the world becomes the comment section on Fishbowl.
For a young creative, or anyone experiencing this for the first time, this can be a serious head-f*ck.
To those people, I offer some advice from Prince: “If you want to play arenas, expect to get booed.”
With a large audience comes a large chance that not everyone is going to like your work. And that’s ok. In fact, the least interesting Super Bowl work is mostly the result of people trying to do something that everyone is going to like. The goal is to do something that enough people love.
To me, standout commercials are the ones that often bring out strong opinions. This is from one of the people who brought you ‘PuppyMonkeyBaby’.
What I learned from helping birth something a certain news talk show host called “nightmare fuel” is that sometimes, getting the right people to not like your idea is a good thing – if the right people love it. Cult brands are forged by the people outside the circle. Pepsi took a chance and it paid off. Passion, awareness, and sales skyrocketed for the product. Even as a portion of the audience from my hometown was left texting me “WTF was that?”
The value in such polarization isn’t always the case for every brand. But what does hold true is that your work will be discussed, rated, ranked and evaluated by everyone within the eye-line of a screen this Sunday. And in a lot of those, everyone will be drunk.
Do not let it get to you. It’s part of the price of being in the game. Take it all with a grain of salt. Soak in the moment and take joy in the fact that you made it out of the backyard.
Greg Hahn is chief creative officer and co-founder of Mischief.