The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?

Doritos Super Bowl Chance the Rapper Backstreet Boys

By now, we’re at the point where we know what to expect from the Super Bowl ads.

Before the game, you could have jotted down a list of what you thought you would see, based on history.  That list probably would have included:

  • Celebrities galore!
  • Animals (especially dogs) at their most undeniably adorable
  • People or animals doing silly dances
  • Inspiring Statements of High-Minded Purpose
  • The unusual, the surreal, the flat-out bizarre (with or without reason)
  • Production values to rival a summer blockbuster film

You can make this kind of list for almost any category.  Sometimes, it’s comically easy to do.  And the more “tried, true and expected” the items on that list, the more ripe that category is for some rule-breaking.

So who broke the rules with this year’s Super Bowl ads? Continue reading “The 2019 Super Bowl Ads: Who Unleveled the Playing Field?”

Six Important Questions for This Year’s Super Bowl Advertisers

M&Ms Super Bowl Advertisers

Quick show of hands: Do you have a marketing budget of five million dollars?

And if you did, how would you feel about spending it in 30 seconds?  Because that’s exactly what last night’s Super Bowl advertisers did.  Repeatedly.

That’s nearly $167,000 per second – more than most Americans earn in an entire year.

So I trust you’ll forgive me if I approach the Super Bowl ads, and the surrounding fanfare, with a healthy degree of scrutiny.  I’m a brand guy – always have been – but I also know this:  If it doesn’t sell, it’s bad branding.

And, based on history, most of last night’s ads did not sell. Continue reading “Six Important Questions for This Year’s Super Bowl Advertisers”

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

Super Bowl Ads Wix

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

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”

Radio Shack’s Super Bowl Fumble

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”