11 Inspiring Marketing Campaign Lessons from Football Champions


In honor of one of America's favorite times - the beginning of football season - we've decided to reignite your love of the game marketing and inspire you to put your eyes on the prize, The Super Bowl whatever your marketing objective might be with these marketing lessons inspired by football greatness.

1. Each player has a specific role on the team - and they stick to it.

"Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." - Vince Lombardi

Each player on a football team knows their role and the role of their teammates. The quarterback doesn't wake up one day and decide he's going to do the job of the wide receiver. Besides the fact that the coach and their teammates would probably lambast them, they understand that their job is to fulfill the role that they're best at. Not playing your role on a team has a variety of negative consequences:

  • It sends the message that you do not trust your teammates' ability
  • It shows that you only care about yourself
  • It keeps you from doing your own job
  • The role isn't fulfilled by the person most qualified to do the work
  • It undermines your entire team's unity and strength

2. You can't get anywhere without hard work and serious dedication.

"Confidence doesn't come out of nowhere. It's a result of something...hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication." - Roger Staubach

Nobody in the NFL thinks they can win games without practicing. A lot. The same goes for you, whether you're in the CEO, CFO, CMO, Director, or entry level of an organization, practice matters. You simply cannot expect to get better at your position if you do not practice. This means you're constantly honing your skills.

3. Continuously get feedback and then find ways to improve from it.

Good teams watch hours and hours of playback reels on their play and scrutinize it carefully to find out what worked and what didn't work. Then they take what they didn't excel at and work at it at practice until they perfect it. Smart marketers are always assessing their campaigns to understand what's working and what isn't. There's no point in funneling marketing dollars towards tactics that aren't yielding an ROI.

4. They don't just go out on the field and hope they're on the same page - every team has a strategy and a playbook.

"Anybody that doesn't want to go along with the program is going to get a comic book, an apple and a bus ticket out of here." - Jerry Glanville

No one would tell a team to just "have at it," and expect anything good to come from it. The same goes for marketing teams. You can't expect to live in your own world, do your own work, and not communicate with the team if you want to contribute to winning campaigns. Winning campaigns require thoughtful strategy and planning, in addition to disciplined, coordinated execution. A strategic plan isn't worth anything if you don't execute according to the plan. What happens when the coach runs a play and the players don't perform it? They're in trouble. If you go to the effort of having an agency create a strategic plan for you and then you disregard what it says, you can't expect the coach to be happy and you can't be unhappy if your improvised play doesn't work out. Usually it's a good idea to listen to the coach since that's what he's there for.

5. Good football teams have a long-term vision.

"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan." - Tom Landry

Sometimes, teams acquire young players right out of college with the intention of grooming them for future stardom. A lot of times this requires patience while a player matures and develops. The team is looking at a multi-year strategy with the idea that it will pay off in the future even if it doesn't produce immediate payoffs. Sometimes successful business the foresight to see how investments can pay off in the long run and the discipline of delayed gratification.

6. Success demands tenacity.

"The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer." - John Madden

Sometimes it takes a lot of elbow grease: research, planning, execution, testing, and continuous adjustment is necessary for solid marketing. If you're not willing to go to the effort of doing your research, testing your campaigns, and adjusting them accordingly, you can't expect your marketing to get any more effective. Just like anything else in life, you might not get it right on the first time. But what counts is your willingness to persevere until you find the right marketing mix, message, and channel to make an impact. That means you don't write copy once and then decide it's ready to go. Edit your copy again and again, and get others to look at it too. You can't test once either; it should be a continuous process toward success

7. Work with people who are passionate about what they do.

"If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm." - Vince Lombardi

Not only is it more enjoyable to collaborate with people who are passionate about their work, but also passion tends to carryover into resiliency, persistence, persuasion, and creativity. Find people who are passionate about your company and the work you do. You don't want to work with an agency that is only in it for the paycheck - find people who are passionate about your company and what you do. How much more believable is the person who genuinely believes in a product or service? It's powerful.

8. Success requires humility. If you don't have humility you can't acknowledge your weaknesses and make them stronger.

"Maybe a good rule in life is never become too important to do your own laundry." - Barry Sanders

You can't get so attached to your ideas that you glorify them and aren't willing to see their weaknesses. Don't become so full of it that you aren't willing to let any of your ideas die. Marketing is a creative collaboration, and like many other areas of life, two heads can be much better than one. If your team gives you feedback about an idea that suggests they're not on board, be willing to reassess your idea and decide whether or not it's truly as great as you thought it was.

9. Take responsibility for failures.

"The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others." - Don ShulaIt's

easy to take credit for the wins, but it's much harder to take credit for the losses. First of all, no one likes the person who only takes credit for the glory moments. Now that's just no fun. Second, you can't really take credit for success if you're not willing to take credit for failures. If you're in charge of leading a strategic initiative to rebrand your company and widen your offering, you can't take credit when you acquire a new product, and not take credit when sales slump. Part of having responsibility is taking ownership, and that means it good times and in bad.

10. The devil is in the details.

"In the successful organization, no detail is too small to escape close attention." - Lou Holtz

Don't get so wrapped up in going after sales or pushing a corporate branding campaign that you forget to be mindful of the details. Details matter. There are famous examples of marketing gone awry when marketers don't pay attention to all of the details. For example, one of the most popular campaigns, the "Got Milk" campaign was used in Mexico without anyone taking note of the translation. The campaign certainly garnered attention, albeit not the attention they were hoping for, since it translated to: "Are you Lactating?"

11. Don't be afraid to dream big.

"Big dreams create the magic that stir men's soul to greatness." - Bill McCartney

While it's important to have humility, take ownership for mistakes, and persevere with hard work, remember to let yourself be aspirational. Don't settle for good. In fact, don't settle at all. Great marketers are often great dreamers, and while dreaming alone won't get you anywhere, inspired passion is often the juice that keeps things going.

11 Inspiring Marketing Campaign Lessons from Football Champions