How Russell Wilson Sold B2B Big Data in Amazon’s Football Commercial

Jan 14, 2020

How do you explain big data in 30 seconds?

Machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence are tough concepts to explain to anyone without an advanced data science degree. Making the business case for these tools is even harder. A typical B2B approach might be to spell out the technical details with vague customer benefits or promises of increased efficiency.

Amazon recently started taking a different approach. By showing Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson toss a touchdown pass.

Amazon’s NFL Ad Connects

Amazon Web Services (the retail giant’s cloud computing and analytics arm) has been airing commercials during NFL games.

The spots run like an instant replay, depicting Wilson completing a near-impossible pass as stats like the probability of the catch and distance to the sideline flash on the screen, calculated by Amazon Web Services. The commercial cuts to Wilson at home in sweats making light of the odds he overcame in the clip.

(A previous version depicted a Nick Foles touchdown pass in Super Bowl LII – not that we’re bitter or anything.) 

Still from Amazon Web Services NFL commercial featuring Nick Foles

IBM has a similar commercial spotlighting how its Watson AI platform infuses Charissa Thompson’s sports broadcasts with stats and predictions.

Tell Your Story with the Right Analogy

The commercials eschew features, benefits and technical details in favor of something far more powerful – an easy way to understand and remember what Amazon and IBM are offering. You might not know how machine learning works, but you recognize its ultimate value in offering information so fast and accurate it’s practically intuitive. And by appealing to a consumer audience, that value becomes universal, not limited to a particular industry or niche.

Not every B2B company can get Russell Wilson to showcase why its product works. But every brand should spend time thinking about the best way to help others understand what you do and why it matters. At Braithwaite, finding that analogy is part of a branding exercise we call One Minute Story. We ask business leaders and marketing teams to build an elevator pitch around an audience problem, a tangible business value and a metaphor describing what they do.

Amazon Web Services might not use the metaphor “We’re kind of like Russell Wilson’s brain as he looks downfield on third down,” but that mental image works better than any sales sheet or product overview could.

Long story short: Find a real-life analogy that connects in your customers’ minds and makes your ultimate value crystal clear. 

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