Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should
By CEO Joseph Jaffe
For some strange reason, Westport CT was very quiet last night (where last night = Super Bowl.) Instead of several parties or bars to choose from, it seems like everyone just stayed home to watch with their immediate family.
We did the same.
Made our boxes (I won $20 of my own money for having the second quarter score). Put out chips and dip. Settled in for what started as a blow up and ended with a melt down if you’re a Falcons fan or the greatest comeback in the history of NFL Football if you’re a Pats fan or conceding reluctantly if you’re a fan of any of the other franchises.
It also gave me a chance to watch pretty much all the commercials with the sound on (as opposed to the hullaballoo of partygoers)
As always I hoped to see the advertising industry show the rest of the world what we’re made of and in true form, we completely failed miserably and instead, capitulated that creativity is pretty much DOA.
From a media standpoint, if you bought 4th Quarter, give yourself a….’er…..pat on the back. You’re a hero unless of course people switched off in the 3rd quarter and went to bed. I almost did…
Politics and Pigskin don’t mix
A lot of political undertones on this one. From the Kraft-Belichick-Brady Presidential connection to the LGBTQ lyrics from Lady Gaga (who killed it) to Avocados from Mexico. (I’m kidding)
And a LOT of statement of Unity, Tolerance, Equality and the like from a bunch of advertisers like – if I recall correctly – Coke, Google, AirBnB and of course Anheuser-Busch. If there were others, sorry guys you blended in the sameness of togetherness.
The A-B commercial was very interesting because they claim it has absolutely nothing to do with the political climate and I totally believe them, which – in this case – is not a good thing. Ultimately, Budweiser is a mass brand that requires both “red” and “blue” to buy and according to all the advertising trades, this isn’t happening as much as they’d like. After all, they renamed the beer, America over the summer months! In this particular case, whilst I applaud them for running it, I wonder if it made sense to pull it….
There were a lot of creepy commercials. I’m quoting my son as well here. Ghosts, Talking Yearbooks, Sexual liaisons with cartoon mascots and I might as well slap T-Mobile on the wrist for a ridiculously inappropriate mismatch of the actress (I forget her name) from Flight of the Conchords and I guess, 50 Shades of Grey and the orgasm from When Harry met Sally.
This was the war of the telcos. Perhaps only AT&T is the big winner because they didn’t participate. Unless of course they did and I didn’t even remember, in which case I withdraw my compliment.
T-Mobile had a real message: unlimited data? Wait, what??? Can you say the word, “throttle?” They purchased at least 3 commercials and the one with Justin Bieber would have been enough. It was a perfectly executed Super Bowl commercial: borrowed interest from a celebrity + frivolous humor + a singular, clear message + a call to action for those that give a damn.
Big winner of the night: Lady Gaga. No more words necessary. Her brand shone (and if you’re looking for a startup/innovation connection, hat tip to the drones powered by Intel)
Big loser of the night: All the automotive brands or perhaps I should say blands with one notable exception: The Coen Brothers Easy Rider Mercedes spot with Peter Fonda (so to be clear, I like the Mercedes spot!)
Special mention: AirBnB’s social statement had pretty much minimal to non-existent branding. Rather than say, “make the logo bigger,” I saw this as them saying:
- If you recognize our logo, this is probably for you. And if you don’t, it’s not.
- We are big enough to buy a Super Bowl spot and not care about ROI.
- This was a statement to our employees, partners, hosts and customers (rather than prospects)
Final word: Come on advertisers and your agencies, Super Bowl advertising isn’t an enigma. It’s pretty formulaic really. Next year make sure you do the following:
- Release it early
- Use Influencer Marketing (see my book Join the Conversation from 10 years ago if you don’t know what this is)
- Use Social Media (see point 2) before, during and after
- Use e-mail (especially the day afterwards to remind the pundits like myself that you exist and are relevant…even if you aren’t.) This morning I got an e-mail from “the founders of AirBnB,” titled: “Acceptance starts with all of us.”
- As artistic and visually arresting as your masterpieces are, don’t forget fundamentals (I feel like a broken record) of logo insertion – both size and duration, audio and visual cures for those with sound on and off respectively, URL or whatever the kids visit nowadays, offer and call-to-action (where applicable for those ROI bean counters) unless you’re AirBnB of course! Update: Just 30% of Super Bowl ads displayed hashtags, a dip from 45% in 2016, Marketing Land reports. Forty-one percent of spots included links to websites, 8% mentioned Twitter, and 6% referenced Facebook and Instagram.
All in all I can’t complain….I won $100 for the O/T Pats win.
So there’s that.