What Can We Learn from This Year's Super Bowl Ads?

While it's been a few weeks since the Super Bowl and there are always countless articles and blogs posted soon after the big game, I still wanted to visit the topic and point out something that everyone seems to have missed.

I don't think there's a need to review each ad or pick the best or the worst. The reason? Everyone nearly universally agreed that this year's ads were the worst ever. The standout of the night was a pharmaceutical ad featuring an anthropomorphic set of bowels. I rest my case.

For all the many millions of dollars spent and hours of creative energy expended, no one came up with advertisements that did anything for anybody.

How did we get to this point?

Obviously, the ball got rolling when advertisers realized they had a massive captive and global audience during the big game. But how to get their attention? How to stand out and get people talking about brands?

Slowly but surely, the humor, the action, the featured celebrities, the risque-ness, and the spectacle were all pushed until everyone has finally lost focus on what they were supposed to be doing with their ad time: sell their product or service.

We are now at the point were brands and their advertising firms are making Super Bowl ads for the sake of making Super Bowl ads.

Super Bowl advertisers today are like children shouting 'Look at me! Look at me!' and when you look at them and say, 'Okay. I'm looking,' they suddenly have no clue what to do next. There was no plan other than to gain your attention. They've put all their effort in the spectacle and forgot about the actual advertising.

So, how do we fix this? And what can you learn to apply to your non-Super Bowl commercial efforts?

The Super Bowl ads, for a time, were many people's favorite part of the night. You went to get snacks or use the bathroom during the game. Before advertisers got caught up in making a Super Bowl ad for the sake of making a Super Bowl ad, they were still grounded to the classic advertising formula:

1). Define you target audiences problem.

2). Show how your product/service is the best solution.

Even in a content marketing driven digital age, when you strip it all down to the foundation, the foundation still has to be poured with the Problem/Solution model concrete.

Even as entertaining and as off the wall as some of the greatest Super Bowl ads ever have been, at their core, they still held true to this model. A few examples:

Pepsi

 
 

"You don't feel young? Drink Pepsi! It's the young people's drink! See, Ray Charles is drinking it and he's acting all young again and having fun. Even though he's old! See! Drink Pepsi and you'll feel young again!"

Apple

 
 

"PCs are authoritarian prisons that lock away your ability to solve problems creatively. We believe you should have the freedom and control over the computer not the other way around. Buy a Mac."

Monster.com

 
 

"You didn't dream as a kid to have a terrible job in a stifling office pushing paper and being unfulfilled and underpaid. Find the job you really want at Monster.com."

There are exceptions, of course, like the Budweiser Frogs, but that was part of a much larger campaign over many months and years to provide actual entertainment in hopes you'd reward them later with a purchase. Unless you're willing to really commit to doing something entertaining that stands on its own as a brand, stick to the Problem/Solution model. Which, by the way, you can still have lots of fun with if that's what you want to do. Just check out Allstate's Mayhem Campaign.

So, in summary, advertisers can fix the Super Bowl mess by returning to their roots and... well... advertise. And you can make sure that you keep your advertising on the right track by making sure your efforts always consider your target audience's problems and how your product or service is their best solution.

 

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

How to Get the Most from an 'About Us' Video

An 'About Us' video is a typically a three to four minute video that details who you are as an organization, business, or entrepreneur. Where a commercial would give specific details about a product or service you offer, the About Us video is a chance to introduce yourself to prospective clients and let them know who you are as both a company and as people.

Read More

Ads We Love: "Bad Dog, Good Volkswagen"

 
 

Client: Volkwagen | Ad Firm: Deutsch LA

WHY IT'S COOL?

It's a very clever twist on the 'dog ate the keys' trope. The dog is perfectly cast-and yes, that's important. The actor does a marvelous job of conveying 'not again'. There's not a wasted shot. But...

WHY WE LOVE IT?

The music. The song choice MAKES this spot. Although sadly, Johnny Cash has ironically become one of the best artists to sell your product with his music. 

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM IT?

Don't forget the music! Yes, commercials are a visual medium, but sound & music should always, ALWAYS, get equal attention. We can't repeat that enough! Music and score is what we use to set the mood for our visual storytelling in commercials, TV, and film. In this case, the song choice sets the mood brilliantly: waxing nostalgia and tongue-in-cheek humor in one blow. We all know a dog or had a dog that was a lovable nuisance. 

You might not have the budget for a Johnny Cash song, but there is an amazing amount of music available via sites like Premium Beat andThe Music Bed. And don't forget your local artists who may be willing to grant the rights to their work if you're going to get it on TV or use promoted ads on the web. The point is, don't skip over the music. Take the time to find the song that sets your ad's mood.

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

What is Branded Content?

Like so many things in marketing and advertising, Branded Content sounds vague but expensive. And it is and it can be, but what is it? Branded Content combines storytelling with advertising outside the bounds of a commercial or print ad. In other words, it's a mini-movie that features a brand, product, or service.

Read More

Ads We Love: Galaxy Defense Force Harlock!

Branded content means giving your audience more than what they bargained for...

 
 

Brand: STAR CASE | Director: Jason Ho

Why it's cool?

Tongue-in-cheek sharply executed story and humor. We'd watch a series based on these guys.

Why we love it?

We love it because it dared to be more than just a commercial for an action figure. It took on a life of its own, but still managed to properly represent the brand and the product. This is the essence of 'Branded Content'. Next week, I'll post a blog entry all about branded content. But first...

What can you learn from it?

You can tell bigger stories than just 'this is our product and here's how it fixes your problem.' Especially if you have have an item aimed at disposable income. At the end of the day, you're still addressing your customer's problem (re: what do s/he do with their free time?). The point is, you're looking to gain credit in a potential customer's mind by giving them more value than a standard commercial. In this case, its five minutes of good entertainment that just happened to also sell a toy.

Branded content can be narrative or informational (in a documentary style). Either way, the point of branded content is to provide viewers a positive experience with your brand beyond just selling them something.

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

Ads We Love: Badger Car Salesman

He may look cute and cuddly, but when you're not looking, "Poweee!" He just sold you a car!

 
 

From: Johnson Automotive Center | Ad Firm: The Martin Agency

Why They're Cool?

For starters, it's an animatronic badger in a cheap suit selling cars. They're also funny and edgy without crossing the line. And most importantly, these ads are for a local car dealer! 

Why We Love Them?

These ads have killer watchability. They're as sharp as they are funny. And we repeat: they're for a local car dealer! This campaign proves once and for all that local car ads can be so much more than a guy in a giant cowboy hat screaming numbers at you. 

What You Can Learn From Them?

Don't be afraid to tackle your industries negative stereotypes head on.What makes the humor, and more importantly, the message succeed is that almost everyone can relate to a bad experience they've had with a car dealer. Too often, advertisers are in such a rush to sell you their product or service, they forget to relate it to your problem or past experiences. Without that vital connection, you don't ask or have answered the key question anyone watching an ad asks: 'what's in it for me?' In this case, it's a car buying experience without being badgered.

The badger ads work because they emphatically signal to customers that Johnson Automotive Center truly understands the pain they experience when buying a car and the Johnson. 

Patrick Kirk

No one knows the exact day Patrick Kirk was born, because he was carried into town by a pack of wild coyotes, but the end of March seems to have some consensus built around it. The townsfolk hadn’t much need for a coyote-raised wild boy seein’ as they already had a town idiot. So, they set Patrick off with the next traveling circus that rolled through town. It was there that the young boy learned of books and math and writing and other cultural offerings from Martha, the kindly old bearded lady, and her husband, Harold, the world’s tallest midget. In between shows, he would explore each new town, never having the chance to make friends with children his age, mostly because they didn’t speak coyote… However, it was on one such trek in his later teen years that Patrick happened upon a small cinema playing an engagement of Major League II. From then on, he knew that he must dedicate his life to motion pictures. The members of the circus were sad to see him go, some angry calling cinema ‘beneath them’, but Patrick took his leave and headed off to university to study the filmic arts. Over nearly half a decade of study, Patrick learned from notables such as Fritz Kiersch, director of Children of the Corn, and Gray Fredrickson, producer of the Godfather Trilogy. Patrick has worked locally in the Oklahoma City market as a grip, camera operator, and editor. He has directed a number of short films and commercial projects and aspires to do more. When not in the editing suite or on set, Patrick can be found relaxing at local sporting events or playing a round of golf. He is particularly fond of poker and has been known to frequent the local casinos. Patrick also experiments with cooking and can make a mean batch of tacos. Among things he still would like to accomplish, Patrick hopes to fly to the moon one day and get into an old fashioned pistols at dawn duel; preferably both at the same time.

Running the Numbers on Facebook & Video

Most business owners considering advertising only look at what it will cost them. They rarely consider what it would take to break even on an advertisement or campaign let alone consider the lifetime value of an advertisement. The reason?

Read More

So, What Should a Video Production Cost?

Pricing a video project is a lot like a middle school dance. The client is on one side of the gym fearful of revealing their budget. The production company is on the other side afraid of revealing their pricing. A whole lot of laminated gym floor and fruit punch goes to waste. So what's the hold up?

Read More