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Super Bowl Ads Suck Super Bad

tv_superbowl_03.jpgOk, it wouldn’t be right for a blog about marketing not to comment on the travesties which were the Super Bowl Ads that aired yesterday. I don’t follow sports, so I could care less about the game and I really don’t watch much television at all. And usually when I do watch I fast forward much of the show and watch the commercials. I know…I’m crazy.

Honestly, I didn’t even watch many of the commercials live on the air. Only those I caught while someone else had the game on. But I did go back and watch them all on the internet and wanted to give you my impression and feedback from a marketing perspective.

Travis and I have always had a strong belief that Super Bowl Advertising is bad for entrepreneurs and small business owners even if they don’t buy an ad. And these ads prove our case. More on that in a minute.

At $3 million for: 30 seconds of air time, there is absolutely no excuse for a super bowl advertiser or their agency for that matter, to run an ad with poor strategy and/or a lack of measurability.

I keep hearing from marketing and advertising trade journals and business publications that there is a shift away from traditional Madison Avenue creative crap toward results oriented, measurable direct response advertising, but yesterday’s Super Bowl Ads demonstrate that this is clearly not the case.

Why do these ads suck so badly? Most likely it’s because these big companies can’t get out of the way of their ego and “brand heritage” long enough to open their eyes and ask themselves some fundamental questions about their marketing like:

  • Does it speak to my target audience?
  • Does it hit their emotional hot buttons?
  • Does it clearly deliver my GPS – differentiating position?
  • Does it have a clearly defined next step?
  • Can we measure its effectiveness?

For most of the ads I watched, the answer was a resounding NO.

I’m not going to comment on all the bad ones. There’s just not enough space in the blogosphere for it all. Like the ad that didn’t even clearly display the URL and it’s a web site for Pete’s sake. The stupidity is maddening.

A few spots had some redeeming qualities., a newcomer to the Super Bowl Ad circuit did use some smart elements in their ads. In fact the ads weren’t bad at all. They followed a clearly identifiable problem, agitate solve formula. They had a call to action, a good offer and a trackable url. Not surprising because the company is a direct marketing company that serves many direct marketers (us included).

I’m not sure if the targeting was on point but at least they can measure the results and determine whether it was worth it and whether they should try it again. As for the creative…I’m not sure the cartoony, racial stereotyping ads were the way to go. Probably could have been done a lot better.

Toshiba had a very simple ad that tied into watching the game and asked, “What are you going to do after the game?” Then they went on to make a case for their DVD player. They explained why it was better and I think the target of TV watcher was a match. And unbelievably they weren’t afraid to actually sell something. They used a classic price leader. I give it a C+.

Victoria's secret had a great ad... well on target. But died due to lack of an offer, call to action and tracking device. It was a crime because they had a perfect tie in with men and Valentine’s day. Perfect segue for an online offer, free gift with purchase or opt-in…SOMETHING! Utterly shameful for a catalog publisher and direct marketer.

The Sunslik ad had some very powerful elements. They did a lot of difficult things right. They tapped into the credibility and power of celebrity endorsement, tied in new technologies and a social media experience encouraging their target (women) to share their stories. The commercial sent viewers to a web site and encouraged them to share their story. I’m not sure if women are a good target market for Super Bowl Ad placement but I haven’t done the research to prove otherwise. Hopefully they did. Unfortunately the whole effort falls flat on its face when you go to the landing page displayed in the ad The site was uninteresting, confusing and left you with a feeling of not sure what this is all about or what to do next.

Go didn’t even send the viewers to a landing page that was specific to the Super Bowl ad. They could have told the story of getting rejected by the network, had clips of other news outlets talking about it and then had the commercial. Instead they just sent people right to the home page with no direct tracking. Sure you can see how many people come right during and after the spot runs, but that ain’t it.

That’s a summary of the good ads – seriously. The rest aren’t even worth talking about.

Why Super Bowl Ads Cost Small Business Owners Tons Of Money Every Year Even If They Never Buy One!

How can an ad cost someone money if they didn’t pay for it? These Super Bowl ads are everything that’s wrong with traditional marketing and business owners try to emulate them in their own business and marketing campaigns.

I’ll talk more about this in a future post.

What are your thoughts on the ads? Best, worst? Leave a comment and let us know.