Crushed it

Monday night was a tough moment for me. My beloved University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team lost the national championship to the Clemson Tigers in a crushing defeat, 44–16.

But, I’m not here to talk football! I’m here to tell you about the INGENIOUS marketing efforts that centered around this very game.

And the best part…the companies that pulled off these brilliant ideas didn’t spend a single marketing dime, yet they earned thousands of dollars in FREE brand advertising.

First up, Little Debbie Snack Cakes.

Did you know that Alabama football coach Nick Saban eats one of their oatmeal cream pies every morning for breakfast? (Hell, Little Debbie should sign Saban to a product endorsement deal, but I digress).

With Alabama’s crushing defeat, they tweeted this:

As of this writing, this tweet has over 200 comments, close to 4,000 retweets and more than 15,000 likes.

They hit the gold standard!

But that’s not the only smart company that capitalized on Alabama’s blowout loss.

Moe’s Southwest Grill got in the action after ace USA TODAY reporter Dan Wolken tweeted out that the Alabama football team had Chipotle burritos waiting outside their locker room post game (for the players to eat):

A round of applause for Moe’s for this one! (Double bonus: Moe’s utilized comparative marketing tactics to make fun of Chipotle in a smart, fun way!)

However, Moe’s only kicked a field goal when they had a touchdown in its grasp. Instead of making it a more public tweet, they “responded” directly to Wolken — which limited their exposure by 75%. One simple marketing mistake cost them the opportunity to gain thousands of dollars in free brand exposure.

The result? As of this writing, just over 100 retweets and more than 450 likes. Great idea but poor execution.

And finally, The Grateful Dead even got into the mix. Yes, the band! Their tweet was a huge score for Clemson Tiger fans with more than 650 retweets and 2,700 likes.

So, why should this all be important to you?

Here are a few things you can learn from this:

  1. Use Current Events to Your Advantage: If you know me, then you know I’m a huge fan of David Meerman Scott’s Newsjacking concept (which I’ve talked about before in my article, “How to Get Even with a Lawyer”). These companies should be your guide on how to gain exposure and earn FREE advertising. You have nothing to lose!
  2. Remember to Make It Public: While the main intent was there, Moe’s could have capitalized on their opportunity more if they made their response more public rather than getting lost in 50+ other comments.
  3. Try Newsjacking for Your Business: If you want to take this concept and make it a marketing science, just buy the definitive book on Newsjacking — and for even more insights, I highly recommend Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History — an exploration of the band’s innovative marketing strategies that can be applied to any business.


PS — A business owner should know everything about their customers: What they like, what they care about, what drives them, what platforms they’re on, etc. It’s easy to determine, too. This discussion with Craig and Shye from Business Owners Radio will show you how to do it: Click here to listen.

PPS — If you know of anyone that will enjoy these types of writings, have them subscribe at or just email me at and I’ll add them to the list.