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?
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!
Jared Fogle, the ex-Subway spokesperson, did some really bad things. I'd rather not talk about what they were. Yesterday he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
None of that deserves any of my time or attention.
I am, however, interested in whether or not this scandal changed your opinion of Subway.
They of course did the only thing they could do. They severed all ties to him when the scandal broke.
Since then, though, have you eaten at Subway less? Or the same? No one would blame you for continuing to eat there. They hired him before any of it started, and they distanced themselves from him once it did. The question is: did the scandal have any impact on your consumption of Subway products? Consciously or otherwise.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
Your BRAND is the collection of thoughts, opinions and impressions that the consuming public has of you. It is formed through every interaction they have with you. You must be vigilant in your efforts to keep the promise you make to them, in every area of your business. We will never know the impact Fogle's scandal had on Subway's brand. The point is that your brand is your most important asset. It's precious and must be protected.
Did Subway's brand take a hit? Or are they absolved of responsibility (and therefore protected from any brand damage)?
So today I happened to notice as I was browsing through sporting events on television that the Nascar Sprint Cup Series race this weekend is the SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
No, that's not a typo. Yes, that's the official logo of the event.
This one has me scratching my head.
I have always said that one of the most important strategies for marketing success is to 1) define your target audience, 2) figure out where they make their purchase decisions, then 3) market to them there.
For example, I recently noticed an online ad on autotrader.ca for a used car dealership. Perfect! The target audience in this case is people shopping for a used car. Those people make purchase decisions based on what they see on that site. So the used car dealership advertises there! Brilliant.
Presumably, the target audience for Nickelodeon is children. Presumably, the audience at a NASCAR event is primarily adults. In fact, according to this NASCAR demographics study, 100% of fans describe themselves as at least 18 years old.
So why on Earth would Nickelodeon sponsor the race??
My guess is they believe the general brand awareness will trickle down to the children through things like merchandise, commercials on television, and so on. But that's an expensive approach to awareness building to kids...who probably aren't watching the race!
LESSON FOR MARKETERS
With every marketing tactic, think about the proportion of the audience (for the tactic) that will closely resemble your target audience. Start with the marketing tactics with the highest proportion, and work down from there.
Using the examples from above, the proportion of children at a NASCAR race is close to 0%. The proportion of used car shoppers on autotrader.ca is approaching 100%. Dollar-for-dollar, the autotrader.ca marketing spend is clearly the most efficient.
What do you think? Why would they possibly do this?
I noticed that my last few blog posts have been on the negative side. My intention is not to be simply mean, but to point out things that I don't necessarily like so that you can each decide if I make a good point or I'm off my rocker.
In any case, I thought it was time to showcase some marketing brilliance.
McDonald's is in the spotlight today.
This bit of creativity, very similar to the creativity I commented on in a previous post (hey, maybe they stole the idea and it's not that creative after all?), makes them memorable!
The ability to create something that's unquestionably memorable is a rare feat in marketing, since so much of it is noise. Kudos to the golden arches for coming up with this gem.
LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
We must remember that marketing is noise and we need to stand out from the noise. Uniqueness does that. McDonald's could have chosen a simple (typical) billboard with a (typical) image of hot, delicious-looking coffee which might have registered slightly in the subconscious of the passerby. In this case, each passerby notices -- really notices -- this marketing tactic.
Do you recall an outdoor tactic that you remember because it was truly noticeable?
Nooooooowww, it helps to have the money that Sprite has to do stuff like this, but I post this because the point is, we can all think of things to do differently from the usual marketing noise.
Don't do the same thing that everyone else is doing. The best example of this is the auto industry. If you flip through the paper (Toronto Star has a "Wheels" section, for example) and all the ads look the same. Same emphasis on lease/financing rates, same emphasis on awards they've won, same emphasis on fuel economy, blah, blah, blah. But to do something like this is much more memorable. And isn't that the biggest battle?
LESSON FOR YOU, THE MARKETER:
Think of really cool or different things to do. If not, it's just noise. Sounds simple enough, right? Try it.
I don't mind telemarketers.
There. I said it.
As a marketer I understand why it happens. In fact, there have been some telemarketing calls that have actually worked on me. I opted to receive an information package (from Direct Buy) once and ended up becoming a member. I have also been known to donate to the occasional charity over the phone. Mostly, though, I don't mind them because I know how to deal with them. Clearly unsolicited calls can be easily dismissed by insisting they remove your name from their call list. I'm better at this than my wife, and now she gets more calls than I.
However, prerecorded telemarketing calls piss me off to no end. They tell me that you really don't care about me as a potential customer. They tell me you're employing a shotgun approach to telemarketing (calling everybody, and hoping someone responds). They tell me you're sinister. The worst part, though, is that I can't ask you to remove my name from the call list. To me, that's entirely unethical and borderline illegal.
It's telemarketing spam. Isn't that the worst of two worlds?
Telemarketing can work if you properly segment, show some compassion, act politely and adhere to some basic best practices. Prerecorded telemarketing messages meet NONE of those standards.
It just pisses everyone off.
You may get 1 of 10,000 people to respond, and that may make the economics work for you. But you're creating far more brand disenchantment which is far more damaging.
If, after considering a marketing tactic, you're not sure you can look at yourself in the mirror, don't do it. Please. Spare us. Save yourself.
Give me your telemarketing horror stories. Better yet, what are your telemarketing success stories?
For the most part, dentistry is a commodity. They all fix mouths. That's it.
The marketing of individual practices can be very similar too. Generic newsletters, standard emails, the occasional snail-mail campaign, and the occasional free clinic to drum up leads. All good ideas, but nothing exceptional, and nothing unique to any particular practice.
Then along came Michael Zuk, a dentist from Red Deer, Alberta, who changed it all!
He paid $31,000 for a tooth that was once in John Lennon's mouth. Why, you ask, would someone do that, especially given that it can't even be verified as authentic?
In my opinion, it was genius!
Consider this: from this point forward, he's Alberta's most famous dentist. Everyone is talking about him. Some opinions may be negative, but they're still talking about him. More importantly, any time anyone in Red Deer decides they need a new dentist, Dr. Zuk will at least be mentioned or considered, if not recommended as a result of that fame. "You should check out the guy that bought Lennon's tooth!", they'll say.
Not a bad for $31,000.
Imagine an ad agency claiming that for a mere $31,000, an ad campaign will be conceived, developed and deployed, and it's guaranteed to result in the undisputed top brand awareness ranking in your category for as long as you're in business. Talk about blowing smoke! Dr. Zuk achieved that very thing in a matter of minutes.
If you're in a commodity business - or any business for that matter - stop marketing just like everyone else does. Do something unique. Something memorable. Something outrageous. It just might put you on the map for good.
- Do you agree? Or is he just nuts?
- What are some of the most outrageous, yet successful marketing stunts you can recall?
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!