oreo was not a slam dunk

From the moment the power went out in the Superdome and Oreo pulled off the social media coup of the Super Bowl Big Game, I knew there would be ad nauseum analysis of it. (pun intended)

And sure enough, over the past two days, it seems that’s all the monday morning advertising quarterbacks can talk about.

While I salute the on-your-feet fast thinking of the Oreo team, I don’t buy it. (Literally. I don’t buy Oreos.) As with all social media flameup darlings that are latched onto by the social media gurus, one essential question is always missed.

Did it sell more cookies?

If it didn’t, it was a marketing failure.

On the flip side of the Oreo phenomenon, everyone (me too) hated the GoDaddy commercials (as always). But GoDaddy had the biggest sales day in the history of the company on the Monday after the Super Bowl.

As I’ve said before, elitist marketing thinking never works with the masses.

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 this year’s super bowl will stink for advertising lovers

First, a statistical tweet from the Managing Editor of Advertising Age, Ken Wheaton

…which leads to a simple thought from me:
If you open all your presents the week before Christmas, what are you going to do on Christmas morning?

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?

Bueller? … Bueller?

Well. It’s starting to seem like every ad in the 2012 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ will involve revisiting old movies. While I’ve said Volkswagen’s ‘The Bark Side” may have some troubles, this one I’m intrigued by…

While it does seem that “life has moved pretty fast” from the looks of Matthew Broderick, there’s not much more in the teaser that lets us know what this is about. I’m sure in the next few days (hours) the mystery advertiser will be identified (UPDATE: it’s for Honda. Update for Honda: A Honda is not analogous to a Ferrari.) , but for now here are some of my theories for what this could mean.

  • Ferrari is reintroducing the 250 GT Spider California to the market
  • Abe Froman is introducing a new line of healthy sausages during Super Bowl XLVI.
  • Ferris Bueller will break out in a spontaneous versions of “Danke Schoen” and “Twist and Shout” during the Madonna halftime show.
  • Ben Stein has bought time warning 2012 presidential candidates of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act and voodoo economics.
  • Charlie Sheen announces his intentions of marrying Jennifer Grey (winning)
  • The CMA (Clarinet Manufacturers Association) wants to promote clarinet lessons
  • The sad reality is that it will probably be a Cialis or Viagra spot.

Incredible, one of the worst blog posts of my career and they never doubted it for a second. But what’s your theory (funny or real) on this teaser ad?

Another update: Honda has released the extended cut of the Bueller ad well in advance of Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™.

will volkswagen make super bowl lightning strike twice?

Without a doubt, Volkswagen’s “The Force” was the winner of the 2011 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising contest. I would even go as far to say that, in terms of buzz, the ad was the best ad of 2011 overall.

But, as so often is the case, when business finds a winner they keep going to the well, killing the golden goose, etc.

VW has released a prequel / teaser of their 2012 Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ effort. Watch it here or embedded below.

It is a clever creative execution. Each time I watch it I notice another detail. Ashamed to admit that I didn’t notice that each of the dogs corresponds to a different Star Wars character until my third viewing. I did get the Vader lab and the greyhound AT-AT immediately. (btw – there’s controversy because VW may have ripped off the greyhound AT-AT idea)

But why serve leftovers? Why center your biggest ad buy of the year on what you did last year which was based on a 35 year old movie?

Encores are nice. But they need to occur right after the show, not at the next performance.

The biggest danger for Volkswagen is that this 2012 ad WILL be successful. And it probably will be considering the reaction from last year and the American public’s insane attachment to canines. The video was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday and already has over 3 million views and counting.

But VW could be like ‘that guy’ who tells a good joke which gets such a good reaction that he repeats the punchline over and over until no one laughs and it creates an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Volkswagen’s 2013 ad may also be Star Wars centric. I see an Ewok or Jar-Jar centric ad in our future. It won’t be long until they’re just producing a Star Wars parody spot each year with little or nothing to do with … you know … VW vehicles.

It happens alot with Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising (cavemen, monkeys, burt reynolds, betty white, godaddy girls, etc).

There’s also a huge PR danger that VW has opened themselves up to again with an unintended but sinister connection in these Star Wars spots. Volkswagen was originally founded by a Nazi trade union. George Lucas has said he based the concept and much of the visual imagary of the Empire in Star Wars on Nazi Germany. Volkwagen somewhat avoided mentions of this last year, but someone could make the Nazi connection go viral this year. 

 I may be wrong. (shocking disclaimer: I have been wrong before.) Super Bowl the ‘big’ game™ advertising is a different animal that doesn’t correspond to the normal rules. But I say bask in your victory and then go into another battle.

UPDATE: They should have stuck with the barking dogs. The actual Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial stinks.

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.

rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin

There’s a fine line between publicity that makes people notice you and publicity that makes people think you’re an idiot.

The kids at Peta like to cross that line on a regular basis.

From suggesting that Ben and Jerry’s replace cow’s milk with human breast milk in its ice cream to the campaign to rebrand fish as “sea kittens”, it seems that Peta has been wackier than usual lately.

But Super Bowl “big game” ads bring out the truly stupid in every organization. Apparently part of Peta’s Super Bowl “big game” media strategy each year is to get their spots rejected by the network. (but unlike GoDaddy, Peta actually wants to be rejected. It’s exposure with no ad dollars spent!) Last year, they got creepy with their arch-enemy, the Colonel. This year, NBC’s advertising standards department rejected Peta’s ad(maybe nsfw) because the ad basically was just several shots of women who appeared to be pleasuring themselves with fruits and vegetables.

And after Nipplegate, you just can’t have that sort of thing in the Super Bowl “big game” unless you count Bruce Springsteen’s crotch (hope you didn’t have the 3-d glasses on) or if you’re a Tucson Comcast subscriber.

Obviously, Peta is being outrageous just to get the attention. But after a few times of generating “false outrageousness” — you just become a laughingstock. And then people stop paying attention to you at all.

weird doesn’t even begin

I know I said that I wouldn’t be commenting on Super Bowl ads. But these two ads are like a fetish car wreck. They’re so bizarre and twisted that I can’t look away. Apparently, both were rejected by Fox (*Fox has standards!) for the Super Bowl. And it’s easy to see why.

Not only did the Colonel get messed over by John Y, now he’s the scorn of those happy-go-lucky souls over at PETA.

Mmmm, now for the finger lickin goodness… (The second one is weirder than the first … if that’s even possible)

what will irritate me for the next few weeks

We’re entering Advertising’s most holy time of year. The Super Bowl (or as their legal hounds would prefer, “the big game”, which also ticks me off) is advertising’s moment in the sun.

For a few weeks in the dead of winter, EVERYONE and their cousin is suddenly an advertising expert. They can tell you which of the extravagant ads from the game was the best one. But the barometer of the “success” of the ads is usually based on which one was the funniest / most controversial / etc. It’s never on which ones were the most effective and caused people to buy the product, increase awareness, or any other quantifiable measure.

Plus, this Solomon-esque judgment of the best ad is a finite phenomenon. Even if you’re in the ad industry, can you name more than one or two Super Bowl ads from last year?

And something that’s worse than the postgame ad analysis is the pregame hoopla that we’ll have to endure over the next few weeks. This company bought 3 spots! A :30 commercial goes for $3 bazillion dollars! And what has become the single most annoying aspect of the ad spotlight during this time of year is the Bob Parsons / GoDaddy ego trip. Do you wake up at night in a cold sweat like me wondering if they can get past the “censors”?

Has your company drunk the Kool-Aid Flavor-Aid and bought time during “the big game”? Since you’ve blown such a large hunk of your budget on placement, let me give you this year’s winning creative pitch for free.

The hooves of flatulent horses dig up the corpse of Robert Goulet who then runs through a CGI generated Orwellian world full of bikini clad college girls. He throws a hammer through a TV screen that has some contest-driven user-generated-content on it. Then the screen fades to black for 15 seconds.

I don’t recommend anything involving your actual product/service or anything that resembles a call-to-action.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an ad guy. I love creative / clever / funny / etc advertising. But what is forgotten during the Super Advertising hoopla is that advertising’s purpose is to sell. The trouble with most Super Ads is that they are heavy on the concept and light on the message.

I have offered postgame Super Bowl ad analysis in the past.

I’ll go ahead and offer my postgame analysis now. In the 2008 Super Bowl, there were several companies who gambled $3 bazillion dollars in the hopes that they could curry the favor of the masses for a moment. There were a few that grabbed some attention for a short time. The rest lost.

(and the Patriots will win)