Frontier, I love ya. Your fares are rock bottom which is often times my first criteria for travel planning. But your email marketing during this pandemic…. well, it sucks. You clearly don't care about me. You don't seem to care what's going on the world. It appears you only care about making a sale (when no one is buying anything). I understand it — you want people to think positively, start planning to travel again, and start with flights from your airline. But in the fine print it says we need to travel by October. Who knows what the world will look like in October!! You can say whatever you want about cancellation policies — you're just hoping the oblivious or the blindly optimistic will jump on this deal which helps you, almost exclusively.
IHG, on the other hand, is creating a strong brand association by genuinely recognizing what's important to their audience. We're not travelling right now. We're not travelling any time soon. And they recognize that. They're thoughtful enough to understand that if anything, all we could really hope for right now is that when we plan to travel again (whenever that may be), the flights, cars, and hotels will be clean. They've come right out and said just that, and they've even demonstrated HOW they're achieving that. Not only have they recognized what matters to us and drawn attention to it, they've demonstrated their true commitment to this promise with evidence.
This dichotomy is easy to spot in such a drastic environment like a pandemic. But it's also a lesson for marketing in any environment: Show that you understand your audience and what concerns them, offer a solution, then demonstrate its worthiness.
Do you give Frontier a pass because most businesses are trying to do whatever they can to generate any kind of revenue right now? Or do you agree that brands need to do better at understanding the audience?
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?
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?
Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs revealed their new logo for the upcoming season, which is its Centennial season. It is "inspired by" the version seen on the jerseys from the 40's through the 60's and makes multiple references to the team's history. There are 31 points on the leaf, representing the year the team moved into Maple Leaf Gardens. There are also 13 veins at the top, representing the number of Stanley Cups won (I guess we're just supposed to ignore the veins at the bottom... or assume those are reserved for future Cups, whenever they might arrive).
I can't decide how I feel about the new logo, since I believe they got part of it right and part of it wrong.
WHAT THEY GOT WRONG
It's old! They introduced it as their "new" logo, but it looks just like their old logo. Can they really call it new? A logo redesign is meant to inject vibrancy and excitement into a brand, but this logo does nothing, really, but regress to a previous version. No one will be excited or inspired. It won't lead to as many new apparel sales, since the older generation of fans probably still has an old version of the logo somewhere, and the younger generation of fans wants something flashy and cool. Some might even call this redesign... dare I say it... lazy.
WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT
Iconic, time-tested brands are not supposed to mess with their logo. It's too important, and it carries too much equity. The Gap got absolutely roasted when they deviated from their iconic mark, and some of the most established brands in the world, including Nike, Coca Cola and Ford, have recognized the importance of maintaining the design and heritage of their brand mark through the years. Toronto realized that if they came out with something that deviated too far from the brand mark that fans have come to know and love, they would do themselves a disservice. Interestingly, each of the "Original 6" NHL teams (Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Montreal) haven't really touched their logos, probably for the same reasons.
What do you think? Did they do the right thing, or miss an opportunity?
Every day in every business a customer asks for something to which the business replies "no".
There are lots of reasons why that response might be valid and appropriate, but this post is about the value of understanding which questions were answered that way that should not have been!
That retailer should be tracking how many times someone asks for a water softener. That recruiter should keep track of how many times a job candidate is presented to them from an industry outside of the ones in which they specialize. That tracking will identify trends that could lead to product and service diversification that opens up new revenue streams!
Why bother? First of all, if you start selling water softeners when otherwise you didn't, you'll make more money! Second of all, and perhaps more importantly, if the market thinks you might sell something that you don't, you should. If it's perfectly reasonable for a customer to ask for it, you should sell it. Of course, if someone asks a car dealership if they sell waffle makers, that's not reasonable and not worth considering. But if the market requests it of you and it's a reasonable request based on the brand positioning you have established, your answer should be "yes".
The biggest question is whether or not a product or service would be (reasonably) expected of you by the marketplace ("Do my customers really expect that I would sell water softeners?"). The best way to determine what is expected of you is to listen when they ask!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Start keeping track of what people are asking for. It matters not what YOU think you should sell to the market, it matters what the MARKET believes you should sell.
Any examples of businesses that unexpectedly answered "no" to you?
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!