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)?
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?
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?
In my previous blog post, I listed the top 10 marketing highlights from 2015. In it, I (among other things) congratulate a brand -- Big Ass Fans -- that very cleverly poked fun at Kim Kardashian and her.... um.... well, let's leave it at that. Hoping that it might be an interesting post for business owners interested in marketing their business, I decided to post it on Facebook and boost the post with some advertising dollars. The image that I assigned to the Facebook post (shown above) was of her bare back (only!). According to Facebook's advertising guidelines, that was too much skin. I chose the image because my Facebook post described the blog post as "A look back at the marketing topics that are important...", and Kim Kardashian is looking back at the camera. See what I did there? Alas, the ad wasn't approved, and I had to change the Facebook post image to something far less clever.
It got me thinking, though, of the difference between Facebook and print media when it comes to marketing and advertising. On one hand you have Facebook who earned $16 billion in advertising revenue in 2015. On the other hand you have traditional print media (including magazines), who are suffering unprecedented declines in advertising revenue. This gives Facebook the flexibility and authority it needs to insist that advertising be done the proper way. This makes print media desperate for whatever ad revenue it can scrape together. Case in point: the Kim Kardashian image I am referring to is from a recent edition of Paper magazine who, as I'm sure you know, resorted to sexism for their cover photo and to full frontal nudity on the pages inside. It was clearly a desperate move to boost circulation, which would presumably attract advertisers.
Four thoughts on the matter:
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Am I too much of a Facebook apologist? Am I overly critical of print?
A lot of really interesting things happened in the world of marketing in 2015. If you read this blog or follow us on social media, we talked about most of them. But I'm under no illusion that you read every post, so now that we're heading into a brand new year, I thought I would take a look back and pick out the 10 posts that I really hope you read at the time. They are (in no particular order) important things to know for business owners and marketers alike, and they'll help you be the best marketer you can be in 2016!
Enjoy! Discuss! Debate! Comment! Share!
1) Stop using social media to talk about yourself. Look at your posts. Would you really say those things?
Look back at your social media posts from the past year and imagine that you were actually saying those things, in real life, to real people. My guess is you probably won't like what you hear. Social media is real conversation with real people. Keep that in mind with every post. Mashable, if you know them, is really good at this. Click here to read more.
2) Web design has changed. Drastically. It's gone minimalist!
It's almost like web designers across the globe are in a secret contest to see who can create the home page with the biggest image and the fewest words. For good reason though! Hubspot is bang-on with their analysis of the latest design trends (read it here). How does your web site compare?
3) Advertising that taps into the social conversation has much greater reach and impact.
Advertising used to be about saying to people what you wanted them to hear. It's still about that to some extent, but if you can, instead, tap into the social commentary at all, it not only resonates better, but it makes you look like you're connected to your audience (rather than spewing ad copy that was written in some ivory tower). Case in point: this Salvation Army ad that connected their message to the craze that was the "what-colour-is-the-dress?" debate. Well played.
4) Simpler is better. If you can't explain what you do in really simple terms, you won't get anyone to listen.
Einstein once said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough". This is so true, especially as it pertains to your offer. How do you expect to get anyone to talk about you if you can't make it easy for them to understand what it is that you do? Read more about this here.
5) Social media is better for listening than for talking. So few businesses know this.
Businesses are notorious for talking about themselves on social media. That's fine to a certain extent, since it raises brand awareness and leads to purchase consideration. But social media is a more valuable tool for listening. Nowhere is it easier to listen to what people are talking about. People like your customers, your competitors, industry experts, business partners, subject matter experts, and so on. Are you listening (and learning) at least as much as you're talking? Listen to what Marketing Profs has to say about this topic (here). They are so wise!
6) The more clever you are, the more memorable you are. Just ask Big Ass Fans.
Big Ass Fans won the internet in February when they cleverly poked fun at the Kim Kardasian Paper Magazine cover which accentuates her prominent... well... you know... posterior. I had even more to say about their brilliance in this post, but the point is that they were really clever. Now that you've seen this, I dare you to forget it (you won't be able to). I also dare you to forget the name of their company.
7) Brilliant design also makes you memorable. Just ask Sonos.
Check out the logo below from Sonos, a company that makes speakers. Notice what happens when you scroll up and down. Pure genius. Now I dare you to forget the name of this speaker brand.
8) Superbowl ads are a bargain at $4.5 million per 30-second spot. Yes, you heard me right.
Alright, alright. I know you don't have $4.5 million for ONE TV ad. But the point of this post is that advertising is mostly a numbers game. Once you've identified who your target audience is, figure out where they spend their time. Then find all the advertising opportunities in that area and calculate the cost-per-impression. For the sake of illustration, let's assume there are 5 different magazines that are circulated to your target audience. For each magazine, what is the circulation, and what is the cost to advertise? That's your cost-per-impression. The magazine with the lowest cost-per-impression gets your advertising dollars (the same logic applies to cost-per-click advertising). With advertising, especially digital advertising, the math is simple, so use it to your advantage and optimize your spend (rather than spending on whatever advertising opportunity happens to be in front of you that day). In the case of Superbowl advertisers like Coca-Cola and Budweiser, they know their target audience is watching the game, and they know how many of them will see their ad. For them, $4.5 million is a bargain at twice the price (the math is explained in the post).
9) Target was destined to fail in Canada, because nobody had any good reason to shop there, really.
Sadly, Target folded after a very short stint in this great country of ours. But the reason for their failure was simple: they offered consumers nothing that Walmart didn't already offer, and Walmart was already here. We, as human beings, are fundamentally resistant to change, so why would we change where we shop when there's no difference between the shops? Target, in their arrogance, didn't fully understand this before making their decision to expand. Click here to read more about the importance of having something different or unique to offer.
10) To close out our list, just remember to be interesting! Especially on social media. Boring sucks.
Marketing Profs (them again!) wrote a great piece about social media strategy for businesses. In it, they implore you to stop being boring! I couldn't agree more. And it's really that simple.
What do you think are the big marketing topics from 2015? I'd love to hear them!
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
- Albert Einstein
Truer words about marketing have never been spoken.
The internet age is fast. Consumers want access to products and services more quickly than ever before, but more importantly, they want information about products and services even more quickly, before they decide which products or services to buy.
We use social media to ask our friends for referrals and recommendations, and we get that feedback almost instantaneously. We read product reviews on web sites that are accurate as of that moment. We use apps that allow us to scan product bar codes (in the store!) then tell us where to buy them for the best price. We Google a brand or product then scan the meta descriptions in the results to learn all we need to know, in mere seconds. Our access to information, opinion and evaluation of brands is unprecedentedly fast.
What does this mean for marketers? It means you need to be able to describe what it is that you offer, and why anyone would be interested in buying it, in mere seconds. That means it needs to be simple. Exceedingly simple. If we have but seconds to describe our offer to consumers, it needs to be more concise and appealing than it currently is.
Here are some of the best examples of offers that are exceedingly clear, concise and appealing:
What do all these products and brands have in common? They are all successful. Why? because their offers are so simple and so attractive that everyone is talking about them (especially since the products/brands are easy for anyone to describe). They didn't need massive ad buys to spread the word when they launched these products. They created an offer so simple and so attractive that word spread on its own. Fast. Enabled by the internet.
That precious word-of-mouth advertising is only enabled if the product or brand in question can be explained simply. Just as Einstein foresaw.
What a genius.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
It's simple (pun intended): Try to describe your offer to someone in 3 seconds or less. And make it good! Anyone can describe an offer in 3 seconds or less. The trick is to describe an offer that's compelling enough to inspire people to talk about it or buy it... in 3 seconds or less. Good luck!
Any simple, attractive products or brands to add to the list?
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
The FIRST thing to do it the difficult but important work of deciding who your brand wants to reach. It all starts from there. If you've done that already, show it to people that haven't seen it and get their honest opinion about how well you done that.
What do you think of the ad?
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!
Other blogs I read