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How To Waste $3 Million

Jimmy Vee

Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch… err… breakfast?

I wonder who watches the Super Bowl for the football and how many people watch just for the commercials. The Super Bowl commercials have become a phenomenon of sorts. Everyone clamoring to see the next one and everyone commenting on their favorites.

Well here's my take on the commercials from an effectiveness and traffic-driving standpoint. Sure there were lots of entertaining commercials but when you are paying the bucks it takes to secure a coveted Super Bowl ad slot, I think you need to create some kind of equity with your message. Be it more customers, testimonials generation, new leads, list building, in store sampling, etc.

Let me tell you, my mind was doing somersaults after watching some of these commercials. I get the feeling that the competitiveness of the sport has rolled over to the ads. I didn't watch them live because I'm not really big into football. I actually reviewed the ads in detail afterward online. Just so I could write this for you. It just really seemed like so many of the commercials were trying to be cool just for the sake of being cooler than the other ones.

I am completely opposed to creativity for creativity's sake. Commercials are not about creativity. Commercials should be about solving consumer's problems, informing consumers, differentiating a business, product or service and delivering value to the viewer.

The entertainment is being provided by the sporting event. The sponsors should be concerned with getting their message across to their core audience, delivering value, differentiating themselves and generating a response (more on that in a moment).

Here are the commercials I took notice of.

Diet Pepsi Max: Most of the cola commercials were like they always are – just cool and fun. Branding themselves by creating a feeling or vibe their consumer is supposed to relate to. I don't love that. There is so much more you can do with a commercial that has measurable, tangible value for a company big or small. But Diet Pepsi Max commercial was different. This commercial was for someone… men.

In this spot, Diet Pepsi Max specifically called out a target audience. That's good. They even tired to make a pitch for why the product was for men but unfortunately it fell short and the message wasn't clear.

Pepsi's pitch was most men don’t like the taste of Diet Cola but they'd like Diet Pepsi Max. Why? What's different about it? They didn't tell us. This is very difficult to demonstrate and may be even harder to verbalize. To me this commercial really needs live testimonials. Men drinking the product or doing a side-by-side taste test like the old Pepsi challenge ads. Don't tell me, prove it to me. I love the nicheing being done in this ad but It doesn't score a touchdown.

Denny's: I though this was a good commercial. It was entertaining and had a real purpose. I think the comedy may have gone on too long and not enough selling was done but it at least had a point… SAMPLING.

Denny's made an offer. A strong offer. Everyone in America gets a free "serious" breakfast. The spot directed everyone to a Denny's on a certain day. They can track that. They can measure the effectiveness.

Sampling is an age-old marketing tactic that works. Get someone to come in and try your product and service. Give them value up front before the sale. Attract a customer, build the relationship and keep the customer. That's Gravitational Marketing. I hope they are collecting contact information. Probably not.

Teleflora: This ad had a very clear GPS. You must always answer the question, "Why should anyone thinking about making a flower purchase chose you over the 1000s of other options?" Teleflora answered that question with this ad.

Teleflora's position was, "Don't send flowers in a box because you don't know what you're going to get or what message it will send." They're solution and differentiation was, "We hand pick, hand arrange and hand deliver the flowers in a custom vase."

The commercial did a good job extolling the virtues of why Teleflora was different and better. Great job. I only wish they delivered a more clear next step. Something like. Go online now to order your Valentines Day flowers now and receive XXX free. Maybe even a bonus if you did it before the end of the game.

Hyundai: Hyundai ran a couple of spots. One was all about them and some award they won recently. Who cares? They spot wasn't written for the consumer it was written for company ego and branding. No reason why you should watch or care.

The second commercial Hyundai ran was actually good. It was a spot promoting their new Assurance Program. This program allows you to return your car with no credit ramifications if you purchase a Hyundai and lose your job within a year.

The commercial addresses just what's on their prospect's minds and hits buying objections right up front. The Hyundai Assurance commercial shows the consumer Hyundai is aware of what's going on in their lives, understands their fears and is willing to do something about it. It shows confidence and delivers value to the consumer. Super strong. A partnership with the consumer. It's a win win for both the company and the consumer. That's something we all should strive to create.

I think this program is brilliant. I have seen other Hyundai commercials for this program and some of the other ones are better. But this one was no slouch.

Cash4Gold: This commercial was the best of the bunch. Of course it's because we this company is a classic direct response marketer. The commercial is a demonstration spot. Entire commercial is about how you can use their service and get the big benefit. Even the name contains the benefit. Plus they did a great job being entertaining and using the power of celebrities in their ad. Brilliant!

So that's it. Those are the commercial that I think have merit when it comes to attracting customers. I am still shocked (I wrote about this last year) that so few advertisers at this level aren’t using social media and web 2.0 to engage their prospects in more dialogue and interaction leveraged off their commercials.

The Super Bowl audience is huge and there is no bigger set of eyeballs than with these commercials slots (hence the high price tag), why not use the amazing tools available to us through social media and the Internet to connect more deeply, create better relationships and more immersive experience with interested folks. Such a lost opportunity.

To read our comments about last year's ads go here:

Oh, don't forget to leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the ads.