Monday Morning QB: Five things we learned from Superbowl XLIX

I adore Superbowl. I love any spectacle that everyone is watching as a collective and I love eating junk food. Plus, roman numerals are the best. So Superbowl is a natural even though instead of the great US commercials, we Canucks get ones for Home Hardware’s Ultimate Spin Mop.

I kid you not. We have to watch the Superbowl commercials the next day on You Tube. But still, we love Superbowl, in part because you can learn so many lessons about business:

1. You need to engage your stakeholders

Nationwide Insurance decided to feature an ad using a child who drowned. Ouch. This is a risky strategy anytime. But to play such an ad during Superbowl? I have to think that this was one of those decisions that involved very few people. Did they ask football fans what they thought? Bereaved parents? Anyone? Based on the swift negative reaction on social media, they did not engage their stakeholders. They are now claiming that they were not trying to sell insurance, but trying to start a conversation. Well, they sure did that… Carroll’s was not the only bad call of the night

2. When you let others shine, you shine too.

So, Katy Perry. Pretty good, huh?The video floor was very cool and the structure that flew her around during Firework was inspired. And yet, Katy knew that when it comes to delighting your audience, it’s best to have a trick in your back pocket. Enter Lenny Kravitz who was good, and then Missy Elliot who shone shone shone. In fact Miss Missy’s Lose Control had a streaming uptick of 1396%. But did we think less of Miss Katy? Nope, we thought more of her. When you surround yourself with great people, you look great too.

3. Be careful with over thinking decisions when emotions run high.

Not sure if the Seahawk’s Peter Carroll made the Worst Call Ever, but it sure as heck wasn’t a good one. Seattle was one yard — one yard! — away from a probable Superbowl win, when they decided to pass instead of run in the ball. When stakes are high, it’s important to think critically. Running, especially one yard, is typically a safer strategy than passing. As Darrell Royal pointed out in 1963, “three things can happen to you whenever you throw the football, and two of them are bad. You can catch the ball, you can throw it incomplete, or have it intercepted.” Whoops.

4. Play to your strengths.

Compounding everyone’s feeling that this was a bad call was the fact that the Seahawks failed to use one of their biggest assets. Running back Marshawn Lynch is know as “Beast Mode” for a reason. According to The Guardian (where everyone gets their US football analysis, no?), he was this good. I’m not a football expert, but if I were running a football team and had a guy nicknamed Beast Mode based on his ability to run in the ball,  and I needed to run in the ball to win a really big prize, well, I have to think that I’d take advantage of that. The key takeaway here is when you have experts in house, use them.

5. You never know who your heroes might be.

Four years ago, Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler was working at Popeye’s after being kicked out of school, with a not very promising future in football. Last night, he won the Superbowl for the Patriots based on an incredible interception. Let everyone in your company have the chance to be a winner and they just might show you the amazing things they can do.