Kanye West’s ‘terrible’ Superbowl ad was a masterclass in the power of lo-fi content

This week saw rapper Ye demonstrate not just the power of an ad spot in the Superbowl, but also Fabulate’s Nathan Powell's argument that consumers are now more than willing to accept ads which are purposely unpolished.

It’s entirely possible that Kanye West might have just killed the traditional TV super bowl spot.

I mean just look at the numbers. By choosing to craft the entire advertisement on an iPhone, West not only circumvented high production costs but also captured a global audience, resulting in a remarkable return on investment. His $7 million investment in a Super Bowl slot with a $0 production budget generated 284,357 orders for Yeezy, totalling $19.3 million in sales in less than 24 hours.

Imagine those results as an entry in the Effies. Most Australian agencies, brands and TV Networks I know would salivate at the prospect.

Now obviously not everyone is Kayne West, nor his clothing brand Yeezy, but I predict that won’t stop a number of marketers and brands over the coming years from trying to replicate this case study (everyone now get out your iPhones and begin filming your Super Bowl ads!).

Does the shininess of your ad dictate the results?

Seriously, Ye’s recent Super Bowl commercial stands as a noteworthy example of the power of lo-fi content that we can all learn from.

The boldness of the move challenges the conventional wisdom that high expenditure (read: expensive/fancy TV ad) equates to high quality or more important strong ROI.

Rather it underscores the idea that creativity and authenticity can outweigh lavish production values. In a digital age saturated with content, authenticity stands out, resonating more deeply with audiences than ever before.

Has social media and in particular TikTok changed what audiences will accept?

In the social media era, where TikTok style videos are filmed in vertical form, providing a sense of authenticity in communication is powerful. And our leaders can draw valuable lessons from West’s minimalist approach. Genuine messaging often has a more significant impact than traditional, polished presentations, creating a connection with the audience that goes beyond the product itself.

It has also opened the door to the world of lo-fi content to marketers and brands.

Lo-fi content, is characterised by its personality-driven approach and minimal production quality, holds a unique charm that resonates with audiences seeking authenticity over glossy perfection. Shot on devices as common as an iPhone, this form of content requires little to no editing, making it not only budget-friendly but also yielding a better return on investment compared to highly polished content.

The strategic selection of platforms is also an another lesson to be learned from Ye’s Super Bowl commercial. Choosing an event watched by millions showcased the importance of not only the message but also where and how it is presented. Leaders should consider unconventional platforms or methods to communicate, ensuring their message reaches the intended audience effectively.

Innovation, as exemplified by Kanye West’s unconventional strategy, is a call to leaders to think outside the box. It’s not just about new products but also about how they are marketed and how brands engage with their audiences. Embracing a clear message and taking the risk to communicate it clearly and concisely is key to making a lasting impact in the ever-evolving world of marketing.

Ye’s lessons for marketers

In an era where the landscape of marketing is constantly evolving, the value of lo-fi content has emerged as a game-changer for brands seeking cost-effective ways to connect with their audience. As production costs soar and traditional channels see a decline in reach, the adoption of lo-fi content has become a beacon of creativity and authenticity, offering a new-age method to engage customers without breaking the bank.

The value of lo-fi content for brands is evident in its ability to provide a cost-effective yet impactful way to connect with audiences. As the marketing landscape continues to shift, embracing the authenticity and creativity inherent in lo-fi content is a bold step forward. It’s not just a departure from traditional marketing methods; it’s a leap into a new age of genuine, relatable, and resonant brand communication.

Also in a time when tactical opportunities often present themselves, but are often tied to a newscycle and need to be executed quickly, lo-fi content gives brands a strong vehicle that executed correctly can and will deliver solid business results as part of a wider strategy.

The departure from the polished realm of marketing may seem risky, as the rawness of lo-fi content could potentially portray products or services in a less-than-aspirational light. However, when executed well, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Smart lo-fi content strikes the perfect balance between casual and relevant, humanizing brands and encouraging shareability.

Several factors have contributed to the rise of lo-fi creative, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a significant catalyst. The challenges brought about by the pandemic, such as conservative budgets and travel restrictions, have accelerated the shift towards more lo-fi content. Brands are now recognizing the efficiency of utilizing existing creators and talent, eliminating the need for elaborate productions.

Social media platforms have played a pivotal role in this shift as well. The algorithms of these platforms favor discovery, and content that is spontaneous and off the cuff is more likely to engage audiences and be shared.

The democratisation of content creation on social media has allowed brands to connect with their audience on a more personal level, fostering a sense of authenticity and relatability. And that’s something to celebrate.

Nathan Powell is Chief Product and Strategy Officer at social and content workflow platform Fabulate.


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