Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Waste $4-Million in 30 Seconds

Can we all agree that the era of the Must See Super Bowl commercial is over?  Yesterday's broadcast continued the trend of ads that are neither funny nor informative.  Did anyone really laugh at Arnold Schwarzenegger in a blonde wig playing ping-pong?  Or a guy hugging Bruce Willis?  I'm the biggest Seinfeld fan in the world--but I could only come up with a chuckle for the much-ballyhooed "reunion" ad featuring Jerry, George and Newman.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the companies that spent $4-MILLION dollars for their 30 seconds of Super Bowl fame--but you completely wasted your money.  The on-line chatter and office talk today will mention your ads--but they will always be framed by what happened in the commerical--not the actual product that was supposed to be promoted.  "That ad with the big dog's head on the little dog's body was hilarious--anyone remember what that was for?"

And that is where what has become Super Bowl ads fail the companies who pay for them.  Dog-riding girls, chihuahuas with doberman heads and horses playing with dogs are cute and all--but how exactly do they help you differentiate your product from all of its competition?  And if your actual product never shows up in the ad itself, how is the viewer supposed to even associate what they just saw with what you are trying to sell?

Super Bowl advertising--save for a few exceptions like Chrysler Corporation--has devolved into nothing more than New York and Los Angeles marketing firms trying to win the coveted USA Today "Ad Meter Contest" the Monday after the game.  When you read the article today, notice that the ad agency gets just as much mention as the advertiser that actually ponies up the big cash.  Those same ad execs then get to spend the next 11-months beating their chests and bragging up to a new crop of potential advertisers about how they "won last year's Super Bowl--and we can do the same for you".  But they don't ever seem to come back with actual sales numbers that would show getting the biggest laughs on Super Sunday led to ANY additional sales the other 364-days of the year.

And remember, the four-mill price tag just gets you on the air.  The Terminator, CGI-generated mutant dogs and stunt performances featuring flying cars and big explosions don't come cheap.  So the actual cost of 30-seconds of air time last night was probably closer to $5-MILLION--all to be completely forgotten by the time Paul Allen (whose MicroSoft ad featured people actually using his product to better their lives, rather than trying to win some stupid newspaper contest with cheap laughs) was handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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