Every year I get excited about the Super Bowl not only for the game itself, but for the ads of course!
It's a chance to see what some of the best minds in advertising have conjured up, and it often boosts the entertainment value of the broadcast.
This year, I found that we saw much of the same, tired themes that we typically see:
I did notice, however, a theme that was somewhat unfamiliar or at least uncommon: a couple of ads focused entirely on social responsibility. Both WeatherTech and Verizon dedicated their entire ad unit to good causes (veterinarian science and first responders, respectively). In both cases a mere second or two mentioned the brand/product, with the remainder of the spots dedicated to tugging on our heart strings and talking about important things in the world.
In my opinion, it's a bold strategy to get our attention and trigger an emotion (which are both fundamental components of effective advertising). It's not new per se, but it's bold because it's an awful lot of money to spend ($5.6 million for 30 seconds!) without talking about a product. But at the same time, the emotional connection created between brand and consumer is a valuable outcome of the advertising spend, and the bonus is the attention paid to meaningful causes!
This year, those ads win the battle for Super Bowl advertising supremacy, but I'd be interested in your thoughts. Is it effective? Or a wasted opportunity (especially considering the cost)?
You may have seen or read that a banana taped to a wall recently sold for $120,000 at a Miami art exhibit (yes, you read that correctly). What you may not have seen is all the brilliant trolling on social media by brands in response.
First, the background: Maurizio Cattelan is the artist... or "Absurdist" as he's actually (and appropriately) called... who quite literally taped a banana to the wall at the Art Basel exhibit in Miami, described how the banana provided him inspiration in his travels and sold three (yes, two for $120,000 and a final one for $150,000) to collectors who, of course, don't get to keep the banana (it will rot... obviously). They purchased only a certificate which proves they bought a banana that they didn't get to keep. Yes, it's that crazy. Yes, you can read about it here.
The secondary story (you can't top that story) is the lesson for social media managers:
Brands who did that well (and some who just ripped off an idea) are highlighted in this piece by Bored Panda. Which ones do you like the best?
Recently, I've discussed how brands like Bud Light and Aviation Gin are winning the social media game by listening and participating in viral social conversation, and having fun while doing it. It's not hard, you just have to start by listening.
Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
Last minute addition. I love what Porsche did here:
Fox quickly sells out its inventory of 30-sec Super Bowl ad spots for $5.6 million each.... yes, you read that correctly.
Yes, more quickly than expected, Fox sold every 30-second spot for the upcoming Super Bowl for $5.6 million EACH, which is an all-time high. And if you've ever watched the Super Bowl, you know there are a LOT of ads.
Does it seem worth it? Or does it seem like a total waste of perfectly good marketing dollars? In honour of this news, I'm digging out [and updating] an old post about the value of expensive Super Bowl advertising, to re-open the conversation. Let me know what you think in the comments!...
In 2006 I distinctly remember being outraged that the Boston Red Sox paid $51 million just to negotiate with a promising Japanese pitcher named Daisuke Matsuzaka. "There's no way a pitcher who plays every fifth game is worth that!" I announced to anyone willing to listen. Then a colleague changed my thinking on baseball contracts...and subsequently on advertising costs...with one statement. "They expect to make that back in jersey sales alone" he said.
I guess it's worth it then! I'll shut up now.
The simple fact of the matter is that advertisers make their money back...and then some...for Super Bowl spots. Consider:
Forbes, who estimates the value of each spot at $10 million, believes the advertisers make their money back on brand recall alone.
Much like the Red Sox making their investment back in jersey sales alone.
That, my friends, is the power of brand impressions, and the power of the Super Bowl.
Despite all this, many previous SuperBowl advertisers are backing out due to the hefty price tag. What's your take on the ROI of Super Bowl spots?
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
For small and medium-sized businesses, I absolutely LOVE the efficiency that comes with digital / social advertising. It's highly targeted, it's inexpensive and you control the costs. If it isn't already, it should be a part of your marketing efforts.
What are your success stories with digital advertising? What are the challenges you are still facing?
As I quickly reflect upon the commercials that I believe are the 5 best, I notice that they are all meant to be funny. Upon further reflection, however, that makes sense.
Commercials HAVE to be memorable to be effective. If the viewer can't remember the ad afterwards, was it even worth making? Furthermore, if the viewer can remember the ad, but can't remember the brand it was advertising, that's just as bad. What these 5 brands have done effectively is use comedy to be memorable. And since brands have figured out that they can't use sex to sell any more (read more about that here), humour becomes the best way to leave an impression. There were other ads that attempted to be impactful without comedy but in comparison, just weren't as effective (see Lexus and Dodge Ram).
So without further ado, here are the 5 best commercials from Super Bowl 2018:
This ad works because its portrayal of the insensitive rich dude is funny. But it's even more effective because the message is crystal clear: Buy local.
Also, Tiffany Haddish's laugh at the end is the BEST.
E*Trade continues its dominance of Super Bowl advertising (one of the all-time best Super Bowl ads came from E*Trade 10 years ago) with this gem. It's funny, but like Groupon, made its point loud and clear: Too few people have enough saved to retire. It's not exactly clear how E*Trade solves that problem, but the ad still served its primary purpose.
3. Michelob Ultra
Good on Chris Pratt, who is perfectly self-deprecating in this ad that reminds us quite effectively that if you care about fitness, Michelob Ultra is your choice.
The one-liners and funny bits in this ad just roll along hilariously, making it memorable (and re-watchable in my case). Throughout the first 50 seconds of this minute-long ad, you're left wondering what the point is. But that's just one more advertising tactic that they execute perfectly to get your attention. Then at the end they reveal the connection and better yet, tie it directly to the Super Bowl itself, reminding the viewer that they are important. Four top advertising tricks (comedy, suspense, message delivery and viewer appreciation) all rolled up in one tidy package. Well played, Febreze.
And the winner is... Tide!
Tide has accomplished a feat that I don't think I've witnessed, ever: They made ALL the commercials about THEM! A feat, indeed.
THE LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
If you're making an ad (any kind of ad, not just a Super Bowl commercial), the 3 most important objectives are:
Which ads not on this list did you like, and why?
There are hundreds of candidates for "world's best logo", particularly when there are hundreds of opinions about what makes a logo great. One of the frontrunners, though, would surely be the FedEx logo (left). Many marketing and design professionals (myself included) recognize that the negative-space arrow in the logo between the "E" and the "x" make it truly special (many would call it the best logo for that reason). Not only is the logo simple and recognizable on its own (which every logo should be), but it goes a step further by using design to offer supplemental meaning. In this case, a subtle arrow that represents movement and even speed - an association that surely enhances FedEx's brand message.
Global Fund for Women has also accomplished that same elusive feat with their logo (above). Do you see it? The two purple dashes help outline the letter "E" of course, but they also create the mathematical equality sign ("="), which also happens to be the primary cause of the organization (equality)! Genius!
This logo is simple and recognizable (the prerequisite for design quality), but has also introduced a subtle design element that adds a powerful, supplemental meaning. In my opinion, that makes the logo equal in stature (see what I did there?) to the FedEx logo. Well done!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
Your logo should be simple and recognizable. That's the minimum requirement. And many high-profile logos are just that (think Nike, Apple, Pepsi). If, however, you can take it a step further by introducing meaning that strengthens your brand message, that's what makes your logo exceptional!
What other logos are exceptional (because of the presence of supplemental meaning)? Comment below.
You should donate to the Global Fund for Women. They're doing some great things over there.
Those who know me best know that I have a bias against domestic manufacturers. There is plenty of evidence to support my belief that Hondas are worth the extra money. More on that in a future blog, I'm thinking. But in the meantime, I need to give credit where credit is due. This is a BRILLIANT idea from Ford.
Ford created a crib that rumbles and vibrates, simulating a car ride. How cool is that?! Those with children don't need to be told how helpful that would be when trying to get a baby to sleep in the middle of the night.
Sure, it's a great idea on its own. But what makes the idea especially great is that Ford apparently reads this blog (I'm sure they do, right?) and has realized that (as I have been saying for a long time) in a crowded, highly competitive market (like the automobile market), the more creative or memorable you can be, the more likely you are to create brand awareness and recall when it's needed most: when it comes time to shop for an automobile. Who knows if anyone will buy this crib. But who cares, really? This is an extremely unique idea that bings the Ford brand to the forefront. The bigger point is that no other car company thought of it before they did.
Well done Ford. (Honda, you let me down!)
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
I can't emphasize enough the importance of doing something unique and memorable, especially in markets that are highly competitive. Make brainstorming a part of your day-to-day, and create an environment where unique, or even odd ideas are welcome.
Can you think of any other examples of companies that did something truly unique that made their brand more memorable? Let's hear it!
If you're ordinarily selling a handbag for $3,300, is the Groupon audience really your target audience? If someone can afford to pay $2,412 for this item, can they not afford to pay $3,300?
Proponents of this offer will say that an $888 discount might inspire people to make the purchase. Others may argue there are presumably very few people on Groupon looking for $2,400 handbags, and in the meantime, they are acting as a discounter, which very few high end brands aspire to be. That disconnection between their brand positioning and their promotional activity might create brand confusion among the handbag shopping audience, which ultimately may cause them to shop elsewhere.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
One of your most important jobs as a marketer is to figure out who your audience is, and where they make their purchase decisions. THAT'S where you advertise. Advertising elsewhere may not be a total waste, but it's certainly a less efficient use of your advertising resources.
Where do you stand? Is this a valid promotional effort that can only lead to additional sales? Or is it an offer that's not even reaching the target audience and causing brand confusion in the meantime?
Advertising builds Brand Awareness. And you always need Brand Awareness. You need it when you're starting out and want to establish yourself, you need it when you're growing and want to steal customers from the competition, and you need it when you're the market leader (as Tim Hortons clearly is) and want to solidify your spot at the top.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
To stop advertising when you feel like you don't want or need more customers is to make yourself vulnerable to those businesses that are trying to steal the ones you have.
What do you think? Is it a waste?
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!
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