monday morning quarterbacks

We’re in the 24-hour period when everyone in America is an ad critic, but it’s not as great this year. As I tweeted during the “big game”:

I’m not going to get into critiques of the individual ads. In general, I agree with the ad critiques of most of the major critics with three exceptions: I liked Kia’s “Sandman” and I disliked Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” and the Coke polar bears.

But here are some larger points about the biggest night of the year for advertising:

1) Out of a little over 50 total ads, around 38 ads were released BEFORE the game. This ruins the Super Bowl advertising experience. While it does create a little pre-game buzz for some advertisers, it ensures that your ad will be seen by consumers as a ‘rerun’ during the game and an excuse to go get another spoonful of guacamole.

2) The main problem with many Super Bowl ads (and a lot of advertising in general) is that the agency and the client forget what advertising is meant to do. There needs to be a call-to-action. You must raise awareness of your brand. At some point, the ad needs to make someone come to you and give you money in exchange for goods/services. Prime example last night was the kid peeing in the pool. Clever ad. What was the ad for? Some people might remember tax prep, but what kind of tax prep?

3) Sure seems to be a lot of excitement over TV ads. Traditional media is not dead. It’s just transformed.

4) I beg one thing from the creative teams who will work on concepts for next year’s ads. Don’t try to make a “great Super Bowl ad”. Instead, try to create a “great ad” and it will shine in any media placement. We’re sick of monkeys, celebrities, talking babies, and the like. Super Bowl ads have become clichés. Don’t be a cliché.

why even buy Super Bowl airtime for ads?

None of my Ferris Bueller theories panned out. Jalopnik discovered the Bueller ad was for Honda. Honda released the extended cut of their Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ad.

It’s chock full of Ferris Bueller references (over two dozen, they say). It’s a clever way to incorporate the references using Broderick rather than the Bueller character so that John Hughes just does a partial turn in his grave. I’m saddened there’s not an Abe Froman reference.

But here’s a fun piece of trivia. The Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ is still a week away. The whole “pre-buzz” idea for Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ ads is getting out of hand. Pretty soon we’ll start seeing Christmas decorations in October … wait.

There’s also the possibility that your teasers could backfire. The social nets are now full of mal-informed Ferris Bueller fans who thought the Honda teaser was for a sequel to the movie. They are now in attack mode.

What do you think? Has the pre-hoopla outweighed the actual media placement? Is the spot in the game just an afterthought?

marketing in the stream

Since the days of the Cluetrain, it is accepted mantra that “markets are conversations”. However, I think this idea only seeped down to the creative and strategy levels in marketing. We really need to start paying more attention to media placement as virtual word-of-mouth.

We’ve always talked about media placement as a physical hole in print space, airtime, website, etc that could be filled with a marketing message. It’s an item that could be pegged to a specific timeframe and a space that worked to achieve maximum reach and frequency and build awareness.

But with feeds, walls, tags, and clouds; there is no past and no future. Just a constant stream.

Studies show the average tweet has a lifespan of only about an hour before it’s pushed down the stream never to be seen again. This stream effect is similar on every other social medium.

So, in essence, you’re now marketing with mayflies.

So what to do?

First comes a fundamental rethinking the idea of media placement and consumption. The same people who laughed and tsked a few years ago about traditional media luddites who couldn’t adapt to a digital world are now having to adapt to a new shift in the media mindset themselves.

We must not just “launch a social media campaign” and dump messages into this constant stream, but we must consider that the individuals consuming the initial marketing messages are also another potential “media buy” that can spread the message further.

It’s a duplicate of the same problem marketers faced when the web first came to force. Converting the company brochure into a website was not a good idea in the 1990s. Converting your digital marketing messages into the social stream is not a good idea today.

numbers are not what they used to be

The television event is dead.

After ABC heavily promoted it as the television event of the decade, the final episode of LOST on Sunday night was seen by about 13.6 million viewers. To put that in perspective, the final episode of Mr. Belvedere in 1990 had 13.8 million viewers.

While I suppose it would be an interesting treatise to compare/contrast the relationships of Jack / Locke / Sawyer to Belvedere / George / Wesley, that’s not the point.

Sure. LOST is probably an odd choice to be using as an example of the decline of the TV event as this last season had lost its sizzle. In addition, it was difficult for the masses to be real fans of the show because it took effort to follow it. And as it turns out, the core fans were victims of a long con by Damon Lindelof , Carlton Cuse and JJ Abrams.

If you haven’t done so already, you need to rethink the concept of audience and what numbers really mean. (but not these numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42)

The audience is smaller, but that audience has been distilled down to a more pure verson of a targeted market. It’s not just about measuring eyeballs. It’s about measuring engagement.

You have to look beyond the actual show to see value. There was a massive amount of social media buzz surrounding the show. (before, during, and after) The finale overtook both the U.S. and international trending topics on Twitter Sunday night. In the week leading up the finale, it dominated entertainment outlets (both online and traditional). No recent TV show has had as much discussion and speculation as this one in recent history. 

Even with light audience numbers, advertisers paid a premium price for placements in the finale. And those advertisers paid special attention to their creative placements. Verizon sponsored messages from the show’s fans. I thought Target had some great ads that were really tuned to the media buy. (My favorites were the smoke and keyboard ones.)

Overall, the LOST finale was a good example of a mass media outlet being used to reach a niche audience. If big media is to survive, it’s something that will have to happen more.

caught with their pants down

Back in February during “the big game”, there were two commercials with surprisingly similar creative executions. Both Dockers and CareerBuilder had spots that featured men without pants.

If you can’t (or won’t) remember the ads, watch the Dockers ad here or the CareerBuilder one here.

These two spots aired back-to-back in the same commercial break. During the Monday morning advertising quarterback critiques, Lil Miss Jen had a refreshing change on Super Bowl ad blog posts from the media placement viewpoint rather than the typical “more monkeys” creative viewpoint. One of the points in her post was about how sloppy the CBS media scheduling was to allow these two similar ads to be scheduled like they were.

Seems that CBS thought so too because they gave Dockers some free make-goods earlier this month. My question at the time was, “What about CareerBuilder?

According to a story on AdAge.com, CBS’ answer is to treat one advertiser differently than the other…

CareerBuilder said it was engaged in discussions with CBS as well. Now, despite the discussions, CareerBuilder says it does not expect to benefit from a similar arrangement, and is frustrated by that outcome.
The Super Bowl is “the focal point of commercial advertising,” said Richard Castellini, chief marketing officer of CareerBuilder, in an interview. “You would think that as much due diligence and as much pre-thought-out placement and trafficking would be given to this as possible, and it just doesn’t seem like that was the case.”

While there are several other reasons given in the AdAge story for the disparity, this just doesn’t seem fair to CareerBuilder. If I were an exec at CBS, I’d be nicer to CareerBuilder. If network TV keeps going on the track it’s on, the CBS execs may need CareerBuilder’s services in the future.

may i have your attention

I had a conversation today where one of the participants said that most people consider advertising annoying.

I responded that people don’t think advertising is annoying. They think irrelevant advertising is annoying. But these days it’s hard to separate the two.

I’ve often used the example that advertising is like the biblical parable of the sower. Too many advertisers broadcast their message to eyes and ears that really don’t care. Some of it takes root and grows, but most of it is wasted. It’s better to narrowcast the message to an audience that you’ve cultivated. You’ve done the work to find people who might be interested in your offering and are more likely to pay attention to a message that is relevant to them.

Narrowcasting takes more effort on the marketing side, but the ROI is incredible. It’s much more effective and cheaper just to talk to the people who have need of you. Today’s targeted technology helps. But you can also do a good job narrowcasting using traditional media too.

This type of advertising is extremely useful to the recipient. When you deliver a marketing message to me that solves a problem that I have, then we both win.

When you do a generic message thrown out to the masses, then…
You’ve wasted your money.
You’ve wasted your time.
You’ve wasted my time.
You’ve wasted my attention.

While money and time are important, the real trouble here is the attention. People recover pretty quickly after a waste of time or money. (some even enjoy wasting time and money)

But after you’ve wasted my attention a few times, I’m just not going to pay attention to your message anymore. And that’s a death knell that you can’t recover from.

ALWAYS be in control of your ad placement

Here’s an image via Adrants. If you’re not going to be actively involved in placing your advertising, the billboard company will.

Childhood Obesity that the media has accused us of creating? Bada ba da da…..I’m lovin’ it.
Shotgun Concepts

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See Spot Monopolize…Target Dog!

The upcoming Aug22 edition of the New Yorker magazine will have only one ad….that ad repeated several times throughout the magazine. Target Department stores has bought all the ad placement for this edition of the New Yorker. See this NYT story about it. (Quick before you have to pay for it!)

Two separate lines of thought about this….
From the Target side…Wow. This is the type of opportunity that I look for as a marketer. A very good deal for around $1million to get the raw exposure and the buzz (I’m writing about it, right?)

Too many companies just plug money away month after month for boring ads that don’t stand out. It’s one of the reasons that traditional advertising is starting to lose its effectiveness and one of the reasons that you should start to narrowcast and market non-traditionally. However, its cases like this…where the very act of advertising stands out as being remarkable, advertising hits a home run by NOT being advertising, but becomes a method of non-traditional marketing.

From the New Yorker side…Will this hurt the credibility of the New Yorker? See this blog post from Fast Company’s Mark Vamos about the sellout of the media to the advertisers.

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