TOP Talk

Seattle vs. New England: Which Town Boasts More Brand Marketing Swag? - A Letter from Boston

Posted January 30, 2015 By Sue Parente

Topics: Social Media, Social Listening and Trend Spotting


No town relishes a good sports controversy more than New England. Invariably, we love to first obsess about and then eventually own the scandal as part of our storied history. This year, as #deflategate dominated the pre-Super Bowl conversation, many New England brands refused to let it take the air out of their team spirit:

It took all of 48 hours for one clever Boston bakery to put their spin on the ball (sorry!) controversy by selling deflated football cookies at “deflated prices.” Well, played, Boston Common Coffee!

Another Boston bakery called Cupcake City (seems a spoonful of sugar really does help this medicine go down) created a series of cupcakes in Patriots' blue with words of defiance, such as “Deflate this” or “Get over it.” Turns out the cupcakes sold like, well, hotcakes.

What I've found most interesting about the #deflategate issue and brands who've tried to leverage it in their marketing, is it's clear only New Englanders retain the right to gripe about, defend, dismiss and mock the situation. It's the kind of thing where I get to mercilessly tease my sister about her faults, but you'd better not say a negative word about her or I'll kick you in the shins. Only those of us who bleed Patriots red, white and blue get to have fun with this one. If you don't know what I'm talkin' about, just check out this wicked awesome Jimmy Kimmel Live video featuring some of Boston's favorite sons taking the flak for our beloved #12.



When outsiders tried poking a little fun at the issue, however, the results fell flat.

Exhibit A: See how North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme boasted about their “fully inflated” doughnuts.

Or how Charmin, headquartered in Ohio, tried to draw attention to the “squeezability” of their bathroom tissue, only to remove the post (seriously?). These efforts came across forced and uninspired because no connection to New England or even football fans was established in the first place.

Taking another tack, some local brands are going old school, and that works when you're a nostalgic local brand like Friendly's. Friendly's is putting its money where its mouth is as the "Official Ice Cream and Family Restaurant Brand of the New England Patriots" with an offer that's sweet and simple: During Super Bowl week, fans wearing Patriots gear when dining at Friendly's locations around New England, receive a free Three-Scoop Sundae with their dinner. It conjures up natural images of tiny Gronks and Edelmans bellying up to the ice cream counter and digging into their super bowl of ice cream.

And just when we thought Seattle might have us beat on the “class factor,” the Museum of Fine Arts Boston comes to the rescue with this highbrow tweet in support of the Patriots.

Then, Seattle, there's the matter of our respective superhero brands. You gotta love this bet on the game put down by Chris Evans (a native Massachusetts boy) and Seahawks fan Chris Pratt. I like Star-Lord as much as the next gal, but my money's with Captain America. But kudos go out to them both for keeping it real, local and about things that really matter.

Lastly, regardless of what people think about the Patriots in general, there's no denying that Tom is still the fans' QB of choice. He does a great job of nurturing that lovin' feeling in his Facebook posts. Check out This rallying cry and TBT. As personal brands go, Tom Terrific still holds his own.

So bring it on, Seattle brands. Show us what you got!

Sincerely yours,

Sue Parente and Tier One Partners

See Seattle's Reply Here: Greetings from the Emerald City

Sue Parente

About Sue Parente

What inspires me? Brave communicators who dare to put "right" before "safe."