Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

2014 Called and Said, “Super Job, Radio Shack!”

February 3rd, 2014

Most of the people attending the Super Bowl party I was at last night agreed that the ads were even worse than the game itself, but this shouldn’t be surprising.  Too often the decision to blow millions on a Super Bowl commercial is driven by corporate ego rather than a legitimate concern about the company’s bottom line.

To be successful, a Super Bowl ad has to be (a) entertaining and (b) smart, which I define as “making people remember and want to buy–or at least check out–the product or service being advertised.”

Sadly, most advertisers and their agencies focus solely on being entertaining, and yet despite this focus, they usually come up short.  So the odds of a Super Bowl ad–or any ad–being both entertaining and smart are about as good as the odds of Richard Sherman writing a best-selling book on etiquette.

Last night’s clear exception was this Radio Shack ad.  Anyone who’s ever visited a Radio Shack could instantly understand the point of the ad when the Radio Shack clerk says, “The ’80s called.  They want their store back.”  The rest of the spot gave viewers the fun of identifying a plethora of ’80s icons, all the while reinforcing the message that Radio Shack stores have been dramatically updated.  And I found it very refreshing that Radio Shack is able to laugh at itself and its dated decor; that kind of candor and self-awareness makes me think “They get it” and that they’ve probably fully confronted and fixed the problem.

Contrast this with an even more entertaining ad–the “Puppy Love” ad run by Budweiser.  True, the puppy was extremely cute and the ad was extremely well produced.  However, the ad wasn’t extremely well conceived.  Why?  Because it did nothing to make you crave a Budweiser–or any kind of beer.  It probably made you smile and maybe made you cry, but did it make you say, “Man, I really want a Bud”?  I doubt it.

The only way this ad will have any tangible effect on sales is if beer drinkers decide to reward Budweiser for the touching entertainment.  But there are three reason why this, in my view, is highly unlikely.  First of all, I suspect a lot of people who liked the commercial don’t even know it was for Budweiser.  (I didn’t see a lot of logos, or bottles pouring tasty-looking suds.)  Secondly, this morning’s polls show that the ad appeals much more to women than men, and women aren’t big beer drinkers–especially not big Budweiser drinkers.  Finally, most Bud drinkers I know have a pretty macho self-image, and I don’t see many of them opting to buy more Bud because of a cute puppy commercial.

The difference between these two commercials can be summed up by the fact that today they’re typically being referred to as “The Radio Shack commercial’ and “the puppy commercial.”  Which of the two do you think is more likely to move the sales needle?

Thus, I’m pretty sure Radio Shack got much more bang for its four million bucks (for a 30-second spot) than Budweiser got for its eight million smackers (for a one-minute spot).

On the other hand, I’ll bet puppy sales are through the roof today!

The Winner of the Super Bowl is. . . Tide!

February 4th, 2013

Normally I’m not a fan of TV commercials that don’t mention the brand name until the very end, but I’ll make an exception for this commercial run by Tide in last night’s Super Bowl.

The commercial is brilliant for two reasons.  First, it’s extremely well-produced and fun to watch; it grabs–and entertains–its audience from start to finish.  Second, and more important, the drama of the spot is focused on Tide’s reason for being: removing stains.

In other words, unlike so many Super Bowl ads, this ad wasn’t entertaining for the sake of being entertaining; it was entertaining in order to dramatize the product’s effectiveness.  That’s what I call StrategiCreativity®: a very creative execution build upon a strong strategic foundation.

As I look back on last night’s commercials as a group, I’ll remember them as one of the worst in Super Bowl history.  But Tide’s brilliant commercial came close to removing the stain of that memory.

Going Gaga over Google’s Super Bowl Ad

February 8th, 2010

I’ve never felt that advertising on the Super Bowl was a smart investment for most companies. One reason is that a significant percentage of the audience is watching the game in a party environment that makes it almost impossible to hear the ads. But in yesterday’s Super Bowl, one very smart company ran a very smart ad that virtually silently managed to tell a very engaging story while conducting an in-depth product demonstration. I’m talking about Google’s “Love Story” ad.

While so many Super Bowl ads are about simply entertaining or shocking the audience without saying or showing anything about the benefit of the product, this ad brilliantly gave the viewer a new appreciation for the amazing capabilities of Google Search. As I often say, great marketing is great story telling, and that’s exactly what this ad is.

What’s particularly impressive to me is the fact that Google is not an advertising-oriented company. Normally companies that have been successful without advertising struggle when they decide it’s time to advertise, but this clearly isn’t the case here.

There are many answers to the frequently-posed question “What would Google do?”, and now there’s a new one: great advertising!

Short These Stocks

February 2nd, 2009

I’ve long had a theory that you could make a lot of money by shorting the stocks of companies that have really bad advertising–especially companies that run really bad advertising on the Super Bowl. My feeling is that if they’re making stupid decisions about something as important as how they present themselves to their potential customers, they’re probably making a lot of other stupid decisions, and sooner or later those decisions will negatively affect their financial performance and their stock price.

It takes a pretty effective commercial to generate enough incremental sales (and incremental gross profit) to justify spending $3 million or more on a 30-second exposure.  Of course, many will argue that an advertiser can reap other benefits from Super Bowl exposure–such as increased brand awareness and perhaps an improved brand image.
But Super Bowl ads are a huge crapshoot.  First of all, a high percentage of the viewers are drinking alcoholic beverages at loud parties that make it hard to hear most of the commercials.  Second, expectations are high from an entertainment standpoint, and if your commercial falls short of the bar, the criticism from both viewers and the media can be brutal.  And, perhaps most important, the premium placed on entertainment often means that the ads forget to communicate why the viewer should purchase the product being advertised. To me, the best (or worst) example of this over the years has been the Bud Light ads, which are usually hysterical but never give you a conscious (or even subconscious) reason to buy Bud Light over any other beer brand.  Sure, Bud Light is the number one light beer, but I suspect that’s driven by the superior quantity–rather than quality–of their advertising.
So what companies should you short based on yesterday’s ads?  My #1 choice would be Teleflora, for a tasteless ad that generated groans from the people I was with and focused on taking a shot at its competition rather than telling us why we should become a customer of Teleflora.  My #2 choice would be Cash4Gold, a sad ad that tried to be clever but missed by a mile. Given the nature of their business and the state of our economy, the company may succeed, but it won’t be because of their advertising.