Running Uphills

Something odd happened the other day on my morning run. Deciding to ramp up my training, I grabbed my Garmin GPS watch and headed out. The goal was to track my pace at various points on my usual route and that’s when I noticed a strange trend. At first, I thought my watch needed a software update because something really unusual was happening.

According to my watch, my pace running uphill was faster than when running downhill or on a flat stretch. Spending the remaining part of my route trying to figure why my natural pace didn’t fit the norm, I concluded that it was most likely the result of growing up at the bottom of a mountain. All of the excitement in the neighborhood was always happening at the top. During the summer, I’d run or ride my bike a mile and a half up a steady incline as fast as I could to get to the action — often several times a day. Going uphill, for me, always had its reward.

These last few months I’ve been on a personal journey searching for “what’s next.” I have spent a great deal of time speaking with former clients, colleagues, and friends. Our conversations focused on learning about their career paths. We talked about turning points, dead ends, and U-turns along their journeys. It was incredibly enlightening and helpful. Surprisingly, I also learned something else…

The people I spoke with, although mostly satisfied with their current status, longed for something better. When I explored “better” several themes were reoccurring; a better work/life balance, greater purpose in their work, freedom to work on things they were passionate about, etc. Interestingly, it was not isolated to one workforce generation, i.e. Millennials. Then I had a thought… do companies realize that there has been a change in the way people want to work? And, it seems to be universal. I heard the feedback, but had they recognized or responded to this shift?

Running parallel to this exploration, a couple of former clients approached me to do some consulting work. The companies we worked with had products and/or services that were considered to be “disruptive innovation.” There is a certain element of a “fear factor” to this new wave of technology, in particular, AI and robotics. The reality is they also have the opportunity to dramatically improve people’s lives. Unfortunately, that message hasn’t been well communicated, or received. One thing is certain, though, the last wave of technology was about business model disruption (think Netflix, Uber, AirBnB, etc.). The new wave is about personal disruption, for better or worse, depending on your viewpoint.

Similarly, my own journey came to the crossroads of personal disruption and a longing for something better. It got me thinking. Could an organization aimed at helping companies bring life-changing innovation to market be built on a business model that changed the life of the people it employed? From disruption, could something better be created? After circling back to many of the people I spoke with earlier, I concluded that it most definitely could.

And so, at this point in my life and career, when I wish I was better at coasting on flats or running downhill — I’ve picked another hill to run up. The grind, unfortunately, seems to suit me. Leaning into the incline gives me a feeling of purpose. The pounding heart and aching legs focus my mind, challenges my body and gives me a sense of accomplishment and clarity.

I also recognize (sadly) that I’m not as young as I once was, and to be successful in this new venture I will need the boost of friends and family to make it up the hill. I may not be able to run it as often, or as fast, so I’ll also need others to take the journey with me. I know the excitement is still at the top and getting there, although challenging, definitely has its rewards.

My life has and will continue to be disrupted, but I see something better coming…and so will you soon.

Follow the Carbon Design Co LinkedIn page to watch the journey to the top.

Why Amazon is the New “Google” for Buying

They’re referred to as the “Duopoly” of online advertising. Facebook and Google account for 75% of the US digital ad spend and almost all of its growth according to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Facebook reported 45% growth in the last quarter and Google’s parent company, Alphabet posted earnings of $26 billion, 87% coming from advertising revenue.

But are these behemoths about to blindsided by a fierce competitor with a better ROI? We recently completed a consumer research study for a beverage manufacturer that uncovered an interesting trend, one that might tip the scale for advertisers.

Consumers, who had an Amazon Prime account, started their search for a purchase at Amazon 100% of the time. If they knew what they wanted to buy, they went directly to Amazon to search for different brands with the best price and delivery options.

With 85 million Amazon Prime members as of June 2017, it’s not going to take long for consumer brands to discover that if you want to invest ad dollars towards finding buyers with high purchase intent and conversion rates, Amazon is going to be hard to ignore. Although small in comparison to Google and Facebook, only 1% of global ads, it is one of Amazon’s fastest growing businesses, now on track to generate close to $2 billion this year.

Amazon also offers organizations a broad spectrum of advertising products ranging from their ad platform, offering mobile and desktop display and banner ads, to dynamic and coupon ads. Customer campaign pages allow advertisers to create immersive cross platform landing pages which can display more than one product.

With the digital ad market predicted to grow at 16% this year to $83 billion the “Duopoly” will get their fair share, and almost all of the attention, especially considering the growth of Facebook’s Snapchat ad revenue, up 158% in the past year. And that may be just how Amazon likes it. Having a history of sneaking up on competitors…just ask Microsoft and IBM about Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Andy Jassy, the AWS CEO said that in some ways the growth of his business was a classic case of disruption dynamics. “The competition simply didn’t believe there was enough of a market to worry about it. The dominant players don’t have any reason to worry about someone attacking the bottom of the market.” AWS now owns a third of the Cloud Infrastructure Services market, more than three times that of its next closest competitors.

Amazon seems to follow Al Pacino’s “never let them see you coming” advice from the Devil’s Advocate but one executive, Martin Sorrell, WPP CEO’s has noticed. Sorrell  in a recent interview with Bloomberg said, “The company that would worry me if I was a client – or I think worries our clients, more than Google and Facebook – is Amazon.” Smart ad dollars follow consumer behavior and from we just learned, those consumers, are headed to Amazon.

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Business Travel

We’ve all had those trips. An important business meeting takes you to a new city, perhaps on your bucket list, and all you see is the airport, skyline and a conference room. Here are some thoughts on how to get the most out of your business trip in 5 popular cities.

  • Take A Train that Feels like a Boat Ride – skip the flight and take the Acela from New York to Boston. The views along the coast are fantastic and the stretch of track along the Connecticut coastline is stunning. The train literally crosses three beaches and there is a section around New London, CT that you will be over so much water, for so long, only a few feet above it, that it feels like you’re on a boat. Do it soon because they’re talking about rerouting the train to increase speed between the cities, that would move it off the shoreline.
  • Balance the Bad with the Good in San Fran – too many trips result in hours of sitting in a windowless room all day eating crappy hotel food. To do that in a city like San Francisco is downright criminal. Here’s how to get the best out of a bad situation. If you can, avoid the conference hotel and book a room at the Harbor Court Hotel or Hotel Vitale on Embarcadero, near the Ferry Building. Counter balance the high calorie, low nutrition hotel food, by going for a run. Start across the street at the Ferry Building and head north to Fisherman’s Wharf, just listen for the harbor seals. Go south (right facing the building) and you can run around AT&T Park. Not a runner? No worries. Connected through a door from Harbor Court is the YMCA with a pool on the second floor, yoga & spin classes, etc. If you stay at the Hotel Vitale, book a soaking tub under the stars at the roof top spa to work out the kinks from sitting all day. You’re also at the right spot for great restaurants. Skip the conference dinner and head to the Ferry Building for seafood at Hog Island Oyster Co, or an organic vegan meal at The Plant Café If you have to eat at the conference, push the food around on your plate like a 5-year-old staring down lima beans, and then take the side exit for tapas at Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta on Pier 5.
  • Experience Las Vegas Sans Casinos – ah, the Vegas conference scene, three days of non-stop overstimulation. Here’s a survival plan. Stay at the Elara. It’s on the strip, but adjacent to the Miracle Mile shops. The best part, great location, no casino…no noise, it’s an oasis from the onslaught. As for things to do off the strip, check out The Auto Collections at the LINQ Hotel & Casino…off the beaten path and a little hard to find (it’s on the top floor of the parking garage). The collection features Elvis’s Cadillac Limo and several cars from movies, including the original “Herbie The Love Bug” and several cars from “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
  • Do Europe in a Weekend by Extended Your Stay in DC –this one takes a little (or a lot) of imagination. Fly into and out of Dulles Airport (IAD). Book a car at the airport on Friday and head to the “French” countryside and stay at the Hillbrook Inn in Charles Town, WV. Hillbrook was built by Brigadier General Frank E. Bamford, on land George Washington once owned. General Bamford modeled his home after an inn he loved in Normandy, where he stayed after WWI. Around the corner is “LeMans”, (Summit Point Motorsports Park) where you can watch a race or schedule some track time with your rental (I’ll never tell). In the afternoon head to “Monte Carlo” (Hollywood Casino) and do some gambling. From there it’s off to “Germany” in Shepherdstown, WV. Book Saturday night at the Bavarian Inn overlooking the Potomac river. The following day walk to “Transylvania” and spend the day in the town called the “Most Haunted Town in America” and subject of the Destination America TV series, “Ghost of Shepherdstown.” Or skip town and head back towards the airport, stopping in the historic town (and National Park) of Harpers Ferry (a 20-minute drive). Make your way back to Dulles, via Route 9, traveling through the “French Wine Country” region of Northern Virginia. You’ll pass 8 vineyards during the short journey (less than 30 minutes) back to the airport. If you’re running short on time, all the locations listed above are within an about hour of the airport.
  • Book a Room With a Stunning View in NYC – no doubt there is a lot to see on the NYC skyline. Here are two you might not think of but provide Instagram worthy views. The first is the INK 48 hotel in Hell’s Kitchen on 48th and 11th. The Press Lounge on the 16th floor offers an incredible view of the Hudson River and the city (in particular Times Square). In the Financial District, stay at the Millennium Hilton, and ask for a room facing the 9/11 Memorial for a stunning view of the new Oculus transit hub and the memorial park.

Business travel can be a necessary evil, but occasionally, it can have an upside if you plan ahead. If you have ideas on how to improve the travel experience, please share them in the comment section below.

Do You Know Your Andres?

There is a grocery store a few miles from my house. It’s small and older, at least thirty years in its current location. Usually, the shelves are poorly stocked with a limited selection compared to the newer stores surrounding it. Despite these facts, the store manages to stay in business which is somewhat hard to comprehend given the cut throat, low margin nature of the industry. It survives because it has a secret weapon.

His name is Andres. He’s a cashier and has been at the store for twenty plus years. Andres speaks five languages and knows most of the customers by name, typically, greeting them in their native language. He knows where everything is, or isn’t, and if it’s not there he knows when it will arrive. He is the store.

While some customers, like my wife, frequent the store because it’s convenient, and quick, as long as the item is on the shelve. The majority of the customers go because of Andres. The store is in an affluent international neighborhood with many retirees. These core customers have time to shop and chat with Andres. For them, a trip to the store is an experience, not an errand. I haven’t seen the numbers, but I would guess that the revenue per square foot is why it survives.

The interesting thing, having worked with B2B companies for the past twenty years, is that many of my past clients also have an “Andres.” His, or her name may be different, but their role inside their organizations are not unlike Andres. They know the customers, how to get things done, where the “dead bodies” are buried, and how to navigate the complexity of the organization. They are the company.

As organizations rapidly move to “digitalization” and look for AI to play a larger role in customer interactions, they need to consider the importance of these essential employees. Like the grocery store, there are customers who may be highly profitable that aren’t doing business with your company because it’s convenient or fast. They are and have been customers, because of the experience. And a good portion of that experience is shaped by the “Andres” of the organization.

As other grocery stores move quickly to eliminate cashiers, Andres’s store has no self-checkout or online store pickup. Management seems to recognize the importance of the shopping experience, which seems to make up for the lack of selection and inventory. As your organization moves toward the future, does the management team fully understand that not all customers are the same, or want the same things. They may also speak separate languages and while self-service may work well for some, others want the full experience, which may include a personal conversation with their “Andres.”

Jeff Bezos’ Secret Message for Marketers

Marketers, channeling their inner Maverick (Tom Cruise’s character in ‘Top Gun’) often find themselves thinking “I feel the need, the need for speed” but are plagued by internal speed bumps and stop signs. Little do they know that buried in Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter is an approach for helping them accelerate marketing efforts, and navigate past internal road blocks.

Working with hi-tech clients, I learned the necessity for quick execution. Pipelines must be filled, leads progressed and converted, and quotas achieved. IBM had two “mantras” when it came to accelerating marketing execution. The first was the rule of “70%” and the second was “Fail Fast.” Once you had roughly 70% of what you needed (information, insight, etc.) to execute you then got into the market, letting the results refine your program and thus quickly course correcting. Built on the idea of the yield curve, the greatest gains in progress were made during the first 70% of effort, refining the remaining 30% being too costly and time consuming.

“Failing fast” was built on the idea of quickly testing “concepts” or theories. If IBM wanted to experiment with something new or different it would construct tests to quickly measure results to either scale or kill the program. These two guide points have influenced my thinking over the many years.

So it was interesting to see Jeff Bezos picking up on these same principals in his annual shareholder letter. Except he added his own twist. In his letter he warns of becoming a “Day 2” company. He defines Day 1 companies as obsessed with customers, skeptical of proxies, eager to adopt new external trends, and perhaps most importantly, their ability to make high velocity decisions. For him, Day 2 companies become static, quickly becoming irrelevant and out of business eventually. The key to staying in “Day 1” is the ability to move quickly, experiment patiently, accept failures, and “double down when you see customers delight.”

Bezos believes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” to decision making but rather “two-way doors” where decision can be reversed. Those decisions in his words use a “lightweight” process. It starts with what he phases as “disagree and commit.” Given the growing number of stakeholders in the decision-making process, could this be the secret marketers have been searching for to eliminate speed bumps?

As Bezos describes it, “If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, ‘Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?’ By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.”

Giving the success of Amazon, this is a piece of advice we should all heed. For marketers, the key to making this approach work is “conviction.” It means doing your homework, having the facts to support your point of view, and the courage to take a risk. Going fast brings with it the risk of failure, but as Bezos states “being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.”

And Mr. Bezos knows a thing or two about flying fast. On the day he released his annual shareholder letter, Amazon stock closed over $900, up 50% over the year. Need any more proof that this “maverick” got it right?

How Endpoint Computing Could Dehumanize Communication

Where does the signal to pull your hand away from heat originate? If your answer is the brain, you’ve already been burned. Instinctively, we pull our hand back without conscious thought, because the response to the stimulus takes a short cut and originates in the spinal cord because of the need for quick action.

According to venture capitalist Peter Levine the need for this same type of short cut may be happening soon with computing. Mr. Levine said that he saw a shift in computing coming from the cloud (centralized) to the return of edge computing (decentralized) because the wave of innovations from IoT, and AI, are driving the need to have decisions made in milliseconds.

As Mr. Levine points out, a connected car is basically a data center on wheels “it has 200 plus central processing units…doing all of its computations at the endpoint and only pass back to the cloud.” Just like you hand doesn’t have time to send a signal to the brain, autonomous vehicles need to react instantaneously to the situation.

Data, insight, and now action, will be moving to the point of engagement in this future view. Now think about the potential challenges that present marketers in staying on brand, and controlling the message with thousands, or even millions, of touchpoints acting independently. Today, the best messaging and value proposition work can (and usually does) go off the track the moment it makes its way to sales and service reps.

Marketers live with the daily issue of cross channel attribution, add cross channel communication to the mix and we better have really good tracking tools! Sure, we can pre-set the messages, designed algorithms to present them at the right moment in the buying cycle, but controlling and tracking the delivery of each message in the context of an overall brand story will be the challenge.

And keep in mind, machines aren’t the only things that learn. As research has shown, the buying process is a highly emotional roller coaster. With machines entering the process we risk driving efficiency at the expense of dehumanizing the experience. As machines learn, we also begin to sense whether we are dealing with a human or a machine.

For example, do you really get the “warm fuzzies” from all those “HBD” messages on Facebook, or the “Congrats on the New Job” on LinkedIn? Machines have been great at helping us be more informed, but they have also have made it easy to turn highly personalized interactions into transactional tasks, void of any emotional connection.

The first wave of machine learning has been about improved efficiencies, productivity, and predictability. As Jeff Bezos stated in his brilliant letter to shareholders,  “Machine learning drives our algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deal recommendations…much of the impact of learning will be of this type – quietly, but meaningfully, improving core operation.”

As the next wave approaches, we should be cautious on how it is applied to the buying process. The focus should be on making humans more human, becoming more instinctive, so potential customers don’t get burned.

11 Things To Do in Your 40’s

I posted this on LInkedIn last month. Surprised by the response, so I thought I’d share it here.

One day you wake up and you’re 50. You’re the old guy you used make fun of because of his lack of fashion sense, various hair issues/challenges, and “dad bod” …before it became cool. What you may have lost in physical prowess you can more than make up with life experiences (the reason I’m given 11 not 10 tips, old guys can do that). Now that I’m that “guy,” here’s a list of the things I wish someone would of told me when I was in my 40’s. I’m no expert, just the guy with the dad bod who has learned some important lessons after the fact.

  1. Focus on your fitness – fat and happy, you betcha! Men, the years of feeling like you have to eat what’s left over on the kid’s plate are over. Your job, lifestyle, and offspring have helped you pack on an extra 10-20 pounds (or more) over the last decade. Hit the gym, or the road with your feet or bike. Ladies, it’s time to put the focus back on you. You gave your time, energy and focus to the little ones, but now they’re in school…reserve some time for yourself. Head to the gym, outdoors or both.
  2. Reconnect with your significant other – kids can suck the energy out of a relationship, and as good parents, you’re willing let them. You went from “us” to “them” in a flash; make an effort to bring sexy back. Put some intimacy back in the relationship by finding time to reignite the flames that drew you together. Yes, the kids will get in the way, but that can be exciting, find ways to sneak in your “special time.” Think back to your teenage days when Mom and Dad were upstairs.
  3. Be who you are – Men, you know who you are now so it’s time to accept it. Embrace your “suckiness” be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Ladies – we love you for who you are, and not who you think we want you to be. Be comfortable in your skin, it’s a turn on.
  4. Be completely honest – you’re a grown ass man/woman now, if you have bad news to deliver don’t sugar coat it, get to it. In business, stop telling clients what you thing they want to hear, and tell them the truth. By this point, you’re established in your career and should have the confidence to stop caring about how others feel about you. You might just find that they like you better when you’re giving it to them straight. This is the same on the home front, stop BS’ing and get to the point. It may get uncomfortable, but you’re old enough to handle it the truth.
  5. Grow something – it’s time to work the soil. Get out in the yard and put down roots. Use the same nurturing instinct that you’ve developed to bear fruit, literally. Try eating something that you grow everyday in the summer. The satisfaction you’ll feel is well worth the fights you have with deer, chipmunks, and bugs of every variety.
  6. See the world – spend your money on travel, and not “things.” There is a diaper load of research that proves the pleasure and satisfaction you’ll get out of travel trumps that of physical things, and it grows in value over the years. Expose your children to the world. You’ll plant the seeds of discovery and exploration that will grow as they do.
  7. Eat dinner together as a family – teach your children how to cook, and the art of the conversation. They will understand the value of togetherness, if you make the time. Explore new food, cuisines and culture. If they only want to eat pizza and chicken nuggets – it’s not just because they like it, it’s because you let them.
  8. Plan for college now! – even though they may still be in diapers they grow up extremely fast, but not as fast as the cost of tuition. Save now, and plan on saving more than you ever expected. College comes quickly and it doesn’t come cheap.
  9. Live beneath your means – the thirties to mid-forties you are typically the “golden years” of income acceleration. As you climb the career ladder, the number of high paying jobs gets smaller, and the pool of available candidates grows. Keep the pace of spending below the pay percentage increase. As your children get older, they become more expensive…travel sports, camps, private schools, etc. Save, save, save…
  10. Stay connected – you had college friends, single friends, couple friends, and now friends with kids. Each phase of your life brings with it new friends and a struggle to keep connected with the old ones. Making things more complicated, your work and family schedules will never be busier which means keeping in touch even with family members will be a challenge. You’ve been warned, social media is a nice surrogate, but it’s not a substitute for a phone call…as your Mom will tell you.
  11. Teach your child to sell – it could be Girl Scout cookies, a raffle for school or a donation for the fun run, kids need to know that Mom and Dad aren’t going to do everything for them. It helps them learn self-confidence, determination and that rejection is a part of life. Don’t shelter them from hearing “no” it’s an important opportunity to teach them resilience

I’d love to hear what you would add, especially any advice for a guy with hair issues on what to do when he hits the 50’s.

Why We Are Ripe For AI

It’s coming, the “futurists” are saying that the hype about Artificial Intelligence is real. The reason according to Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, is that AI is no long a “magical thing” but is now creating real value for companies, like Google and Baidu. Companies are now finding “pockets of opportunity” to invest in AI. But there is also something else at play that is also making the timing right for AI.

Americans are now living in highly polarized political environment. We’ve seen it play out in TV commercials, “resistance movements,” and daily news coverage.

At the same time, researchers have recently shown that it’s more than a person’s mindset that determines their political beliefs; it’s their actual mind itself. More specifically, the physical structure of the brain of those people on the ”right” and the “left” are different, and it impacts how information is interpreted, decision are made and how you see the world.

https://goo.gl/images/lkT8wC

People who describe themselves as “liberals” tend to have a larger anterior cingulate cortex, the area that is responsible for taking in new information and that impact of the new information on decision-making. Meanwhile, “conservatives” tend to have a larger right amygdala being a deeper brain structure that processes more emotional information, in particular, fear-based information.

As a result, the adult world is made up of, to a certain degree, two hard-wired types of people, who see and interpret the world differently. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center there has been a dramatic political polarization of Americans over the last 20 years (see the graph below).

Put it all together and you have a perfect scenario for AI machine learning. Machines look for consistency in patterns to make predictions, and apparently we have become more predictable than ever before. Using psychographic segmentation along with online research tools, machines can more accurate and effective target and message to unique audience segments.

Our minds are already predisposed to interpret information differently. Layer on that our opinions and beliefs are becoming more distinctly aligned with other like individuals and you’re seeing the “middle” is disappear.

These distinct groups also use unique channels for information and communication that reinforce their beliefs and opinions, making it easier to find and message to them. In the end, the target, channel and message are all becoming increasingly more defined as a result.

While polarization is making it more difficult for one group to understand the other, it is making humans a lot easier for machines to understand.

CEB Challenger Marketing Webcast – March 8th

Last September, Pat Spenner, co-author of The Challenger Customer and I presented a webcast entitled Lessons from the Challenger Marketing Trenches. During the webcast Pat and I shared our key learnings on executing Challenger across a multitude of marketing activities: customer understanding, marketing messaging, content strategy development, content and sales tool production, and lead generation.

On March 8th at 11 am (EST) Jessica Cash and I will be presenting Using B2B Content to Drive Alignment & Accountability, details on the event and registration below.

Overview: With increased budgets comes increased calls for accountability. Today’s top marketers are using Commercial Insight, personal value, and help from peers to craft content strategies that result in more than just customer engagement. Learn best practices and ways to avoid common pitfalls that often leave marketers struggling to improve lead quality.

Join Jessica Cash, Head of Sales and Marketing Solutions Product Development at CEB, and Scott Gillum, President of gyro in Washington, D.C. as they answer questions, such as:

  • How can marketers avoid always defining their business solely from the legacy perspective?
  • How does redefining themselves allow for better alignment with customers?
  • How can value drive customer action?

Jessica and Scott will be holding up the mirror in order to show how CEB is applying these best practices and principles in their own marketing efforts, so come ready with questions!

When: Wednesday, March 8 at 11 am (EST)

Click here to register

A Breakdown of the Strategy Behind Bud’s Controversial Super Bowl Ad

We are emotional creatures living in a highly emotional world as recent events have shown. It’s a time when people often act, or react first without having any, or all, of the facts. And the media may (or may not) be reading more into things than are actually there.

Take for example, Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” Super Bowl ad. It tells the story of Adolphus Busch’s journey from Germany. The ad, released last Tuesday hit the air at the height of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s travel ban. The 60-second ad starts with a shot of Busch and a voice in the distance saying “You don’t look like you’re from around here.” Whether it’s intentional or not, the immigration themed ad struck a cord with many.

Although Anheuser-Busch InBev denies any political connections, others have used it as rallying cry. As an ad, it ‘s well done and hits many of the important elements of quality advertising. It’s an authentic (despite being somewhat fictionalized) story of the American success story told through the founder’s journey to St. Louis as a German immigrant.

The challenge is that it may not connect with its audience. More bluntly, it may have pissed off a lot of Bud drinkers. Here’s what the agency strategists and A-B InBev may have missed during the creative concept process.

Overlay the map below with 2016 Presidential election results map (by country) above and you will see that of the 13 states where Bud Light is the most popular beer, Trump won 9, and of the remaining four, Trump won the rural vote. In fact, the profile of a Bud drinker is almost identical to a Trump voter.

The risk for Budweiser, in its desire to reach and connect with Millennials (77% drink something other than Bud), is that they may have alienated and/or offended traditional Bud drinkers. The day before the Super Bowl saw a ground swell loyalists threatening to #boycottbudwiser (yes, spelled incorrectly). The hashtag trended the night of the Super Bowl and the following day after. Once corrected, the hashtag became a lightening rod for comments both supportive and critical of the theme. Bud fans seemingly upset at what they see as Budweiser making a political statement.

It’s a classic big company conundrum. In order to ensure growth, Bud had to swift its messaging towards a younger audience at the risk of alienating its loyal customer base. The question for Budweiser now is did the ad do its job. It was voted as one of the “Winners” of the evening but did it convert non-Bud drinkers? And in this highly competitive marketplace, will the ad be effective in bringing new younger buyers to the brand at a rate to cover the loss of consumers who may be switching their allegiance because of their outrage over its political overtone?

The takeaway for agencies: We now have to consider the potential for ads to be “hijacked” by a political controversy. As a result of the polarization of America, agencies and companies may know have to consider how their audience voted (see the campaign map) when crafted campaigns. The other insight is that we may have found a new way to use emotions to trigger action, for better…or worse.