The Super Bowl Ads: 9 Inexpensive Lessons for the Rest of Us

Super Bowl Ads Wix
(Reading Time: 7 minutes)

Who won Super Bowl LI? Besides the Patriots, that is.

For starters, Fox did pretty well. Days before the game, a Fox exec crowed, “We are going to finish with the highest revenue day in Fox history.”

When you sell dozens of Super Bowl ads for $10 million per minute, there’s probably a pretty good pizza party in the break room.

So advertisers must have done well too, right? Not so fast.

Communicus, a research firm, has conducted several studies of the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads. Their findings? Only about one advertiser in five actually builds its brand.

There’s a danger: Those of us without super-sized marketing budgets might be blinded by the hype. We might be inclined to believe that things like “likeability scores” matter. They don’t. Continue reading “The Super Bowl Ads: 9 Inexpensive Lessons for the Rest of Us”

Super Bowl 50: 7 Lessons for Challenger Brands

Super Bowl Ads Challenger Brands
(Reading Time: 5 minutes)

About five million dollars. That’s the cost for one of this year’s 30-second Super Bowl ads.

For most of us who lead challenger brands, that kind of outlay simply isn’t in the realm of possibility. As underdogs, we’re used to doing more with less.

The Super Bowl – and, in particular, the hype surrounding its ads – is perhaps the greatest example in business of flawed thinking on a grand scale. Though attention is heightened during the big game, viewers are primarily looking to be entertained. (This is how we get a Bud Light ad with “caucus” jokes. Oof, you are so ribald!)

Of course, ads that entertain don’t necessarily sell. And challenger brands know that it’s all about selling.

So let’s talk about what the rest of us can learn from this year’s Super Bowl ads. Continue reading “Super Bowl 50: 7 Lessons for Challenger Brands”

“The Perfect Beer for (Insert Anything Here)”: Bud Light and Empty Claims

(Reading Time: 3 minutes)

to thisWhile visiting Northeastern Ohio over the holidays, I came across cans of Bud Light that were customized in Cleveland Browns colors. The cans featured the following slogan:

“The Perfect Beer for Being Dawg Pound Proud”

Bud Light loves the Browns!
Bud Light loves the Browns!

(For those that may not know, the Dawg Pound is the nickname for the bleacher seats behind the east end zone of FirstEnergy Stadium, where the most fervent Browns fans congregate.)

My first reaction to this slogan was that it couldn’t have been written by anyone familiar with the team. I’ve been a Browns fan all my life, and “proud” is not a word we’re using these days. “Justifiably outraged” is more like it; the Browns have just one winning season in the last 13, and have lost 18 of their last 21 games.

My second reaction was: Continue reading ““The Perfect Beer for (Insert Anything Here)”: Bud Light and Empty Claims”

Radio Shack’s Super Bowl Fumble

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Radio Shack ran an ad during this year’s Super Bowl. It was essentially an acknowledgement that their stores have been horribly out-of-date.

After establishing the premise of “The 80’s called – they want their store back,” a stream of retro characters poured into a Radio Shack store and began to dismantle it.

Hey look! It's Hulk Hogan! And Erik Estrada! And the guy from Cheers! Let's go buy electronics!
Hey look! It’s Hulk Hogan! And Erik Estrada! And the guy from Cheers! Let’s go buy electronics!

Some people liked it. “Funny!” they said. Or, “Look at all these characters I recognize!” Or, “I’m in my mid-forties, and I equate these warm pangs of nostalgia with quality advertising!” Continue reading “Radio Shack’s Super Bowl Fumble”

BrandSniper: Whopper Virgins

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Here we go again: More big marketing without a big idea.

By now you’ve probably seen the TV ads for the Whopper Virgins concept. The premise: In a taste test with indigenous people from the most remote corners of the globe – people with no prior knowledge of the existence of the fast-food giants – who wins, Burger King or McDonald’s?

The TV spots attempt to drive visits to the website. Once there, you’ll find copy like this: Continue reading “BrandSniper: Whopper Virgins”

Microsoft, Seinfeld & Gates: Less Than the Sum of the Parts

(Reading Time: 2 minutes)

Let’s say you’re Microsoft.

Your nemesis, Apple, has been running a highly visible and effective campaign in which your brand is personified as a clueless dolt.

Your product-performance shortcomings (and there are many) have been systematically exposed and attacked.

As a result, Apple’s share is growing, particularly with younger users, which does not bode well for your future.

What do you do?

Try this: Launch a new campaign featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, in which Seinfeld helps Gates shop for shoes in a cheesy mall store, and then asks Gates if computers could be made to taste like cake. Continue reading “Microsoft, Seinfeld & Gates: Less Than the Sum of the Parts”

How to Kill Your Brand – 40 Easy Ways!

(Reading Time: 5 minutes)

Pointless advertising. Unresponsive customer service departments. Convoluted buying processes. If I didn’t know better, I’d think some companies were actually trying to kill their brands.

Since so many companies seem determined to destroy their brands through boneheaded moves and bad decisions, I thought I’d lend them a hand.

If you’re serious about killing your brand, I’m pleased to offer 40 tips and tricks – guaranteed to set your brand on the path to miserable, abject failure! Continue reading “How to Kill Your Brand – 40 Easy Ways!”

What Were They Thinking?

(Reading Time: 4 minutes)

The world is crawling with bad branding practices. They lurch stupidly across the countryside, inciting consumer cynicism, bombarding the citizenry with meaningless messages, wasting scarce dollars and even scarcer time.

For the most part, these misguided marketing moves are created and perpetuated by people paid handsomely for what they do. But what were they thinking? What was on the minds behind such products as Oil-Free Oil of Olay, Low-Salt Mr. Salty Pretzels and Rust-Oleum for Wood?

Here are a few examples of bad branding practices that I find nettling: Continue reading “What Were They Thinking?”