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Super Bowl Ad Critics: A Cult of Know-Nothings

Don’t Judge Advertising; Let It Judge You

February 2007 By Denny Hatch
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In the News

Were the Super Bowl Ads Any Good?
The best and worst of the night.

I should note right away that I’m greeting this Super Bowl telecast with a total baditude. I hate the Colts (for beating my Patriots in the AFC championship game). I hate Peyton Manning (for looking like a whiny chump all the time). And I also badly injured myself before the game playing touch football (my hamstring is on fire right now). What could snap me out of my funk? Some epic, showstopping commercials. Uplifting. Emotional. This is what we want from our Super Bowl ads, yes? Something a cut above the everyday. Sadly, that’s not what we got. With minor exceptions, the ads this year were disappointingly small and instantly forgettable.
Seth Stevenson, Slate.com, Feb. 5, 2007
With few exceptions, I despise Super Bowl ads.

The only things that irritate me more than the ads themselves are the blathering bloviations of columnists and commentators who give their opinions the morning after on which ads were good and which were bad.

They are all dead wrong.

They haven’t a clue what they are talking about.

Not one of them.

Let’s start with five very basic rules of advertising:

Rule #1: “Your job is to sell, not entertain.”
Jack Maxson, freelancer, creator of the Brookstone catalog

Rule #2: “If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”
—Credo of Benton and Bowles, Chicago, in the 1930s

Rule #3: “Every time we get creative we lose money.”
Ed McCabe, president of BMG music club

Rule #4: “The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”
Claude Hopkins, “Scientific Advertising”

Rule #5: “People love to be sold.”
—Franklin Watts, book publisher

Last Sunday, only one Super Bowl ad followed those rules.

As for the other advertisers—with $130 million going to CBS and another $70 million spent on production—the entire exercise was a $200 million circle jerk with a bunch of big agencies blowing their clients’ money to show off to each other how clever they could be.

What flashes through my head is Monte Woolley’s opening line in the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart screwball comedy of 1939, “The Man Who Came to Dinner:”

“I may vomit!”

A Sampling of the Critiques
Two spots for Sierra Mist, sold by the Pepsi-Cola division of PepsiCo, were not as funny as those from the game last year. A third commercial, for Sierra Mist Free, hit the jackpot with a punch line that, well, came up short, as in the abbreviated shorts worn by the comedian Jim Gaffigan. Agency: BBDO Worldwide, part of Omnicom.
Stuart Elliott, The New York Times

“Funny” is not the point. What was the return on investment (ROI)?

Anheuser-Busch Cos., in particular, produced a series of ads that resonated among a group of ad executives and consumers who talked with The Wall Street Journal after seeing the Super Bowl ads. Among the most popular was a Bud Light spot, crafted by Omnicom Group Inc.’s DDB, showing a string of men slapping each other. The ad was “one of the favorites of the game,” says Greg Yeadon, a 28-year-old student at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill., who was watching the game with a group of 36 students and faculty.

Takeaway Points to Consider:

* You can’t judge good advertising; it judges you. If it works it’s good; if it bombs it’s bad.

* If you do not make an offer you will not get a response. Example: Last week I heard a pitch on NPR for a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg with the Russian National Orchestra that included a Volga cruise. I called for information. Yesterday, I received a 36-page brochure with color photographs and an unsigned letter from the president of the WRTI Travel Club. It arrived in a 9” x 12” envelope that cost $1.35 for postage. The mailing described everything about the journey—day-by-day. The only things missing were an address, a phone number, an e-mail address, a fax number and the price. I have no idea how to reach these people or how much it will cost.

* “Your job is to sell, not entertain.”
Jack Maxson, freelancer, creator of the Brookstone Catalog

* “If it doesn’t sell, it’s not creative.”
—Credo of Benton and Bowles, Chicago, in the 1930s

* “Every time we get creative we lose money.”
Ed McCabe, president of BMG music club

* “The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”
Claude Hopkins, “Scientific Advertising”

* “People love to be sold.”
—Franklin Watts, book publisher

* “Make it easy to order.”
—Elsworth Howell, founder of Grolier Enterprises

Web Sites Related to Today's Edition:

InfoUSA’s Sales Genie
http://www.salesgenie.com/

View Super Bowl Ads
http://www.ifilm.com/superbowl/
 

COMMENTS

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Comment *
Most Recent Comments:
Rob J - Omaha, NE - Posted on February 22, 2007
Craig Swerdloff - Posted on February 12, 2007
Denny,

In Direct Marketing the numbers tell the whole story. Unfortunately for InfoUSA, the Salesgenie.com numbers are not nearly as impressive as they seem. They generated 18,000 prospects, which are nothing more than unqualified, unpaid, interested parties. Assuming the product is great, I would expect the conversion rate from leads into paid customers to be nearly 10% (a very high number for online credit card conversion). If each customer is worth $1,000, then Salesgenie.com generated less than $2MM in revenue for a $2.6MM commercial (not including production costs and their pre-game sponsorship). No one knows the exact numbers besides for InfoUSA, but all indications are they will not be back in 2008.
Ron Shevlin - Posted on February 09, 2007
I may be misquoting here, but I seem to recall that Jack Welch once said that the real purpose of TV advertising was to make the employees of the company being advertised feel better about the company they work for.

Look, if this is what these companies want to spend their money on, fine by me. (just as long as I don't work there, don't invest them, or have them as clients!)
Bernie Malonson - Posted on February 09, 2007
In the words of Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film Jerry Maquire, "Show Me The Money!".

I agree that SalesGenie may be the only one who actually will be able to tie their SuperBowl spend to their bottomline. All the hoo-ha about impressions, branding, etc. is completely self-serving.

Case in point, the GM robot ad. Cute, but Detroit is still sinking into oblivion. How does this ad sell more cars? It gives me no solid reason to buy a GM vehicle.

Oh I forgot, at 15% commission, buying Superbowl time may not be a bad way for an agency to make some money of an unsuspecting advertiser.
Bill Cornish - Posted on February 09, 2007
Am I missing the point here? I am not a marketing pro, so I'm not going to br offended if you do not print this. It seems to me though that the real marketing lesson occurred a few days earlier in the week. Turner Broadcasting (or something) put signs up in 8 cities that immediately got them several minutes of prime news time advertising on every station in the country several times over 3-4 days for a paltry $2 million, or 23% discount from 30 seconds on CBS one time in the year. If the objective is to get the most bang for the buck, didn't Turner beat everyone else hands down?

The only problem is, as you point out, does anyone remember the name of the movie that Turner was plugging? I don't, so his ROI from me is zero.
Jim - Posted on February 09, 2007
Jim Brown - Posted on February 08, 2007
Well, Mr. Billman I am that crotchety curmudgeon and I agree with you anyway.
Donna - Posted on February 08, 2007
We TiVo'd the game and fast-forwarded through to the ads. I was monumentally disappointed and thought most were not creative but stooooopid! MyDaddy or BigDaddy - don't know what it is and don't care - who really wants to do business with a company that is all about partying unless they are into catering?? Both my husband I and felt there were more ads for network shows and wondered outloud if they had a problem selling time! Perhaps because there is no ROI???
David N. Rosen - Posted on February 08, 2007
The Great Annual Superbowl Advertising Spectacle is actually a religious festival, presided over by a team of the most self-important and self-congratulatory priesthoods in history: the Cult of "Creativity" and the Holy Order of Brand Marketing Mystics . Sales? ROI? Insignificant details compared with the really important objective of glorifying the holy brand and showing how clever we are (not necessarily in that order).
Denis - Posted on February 08, 2007
Sorry! I have to disagree with you on the rules of advertising. In an entertainment venue, where people are not receptive to your message if it's not entertaining, you had better be creative or risk being tuned out. Salespeople are there to sell, not advertising. Advertising is there to boost brand awareness and liking, communicate benefits and information, maybe send a call to action. A 30 second spot can't do what a page long letter or a half hour sales pitch, with it's back and forth, can do. It can however try to capture your attention and make you feel more favorable towards the brand when the time comes to make a purchase. The cute ads try to achieve that goal. Some do it well, some fail miserably. Other ads might just have entirely different goals. I'm very happy for infoUSA that their retail-type ad worked so well. It's not however the only benchmark of success. I'm sure that GM faces a very different strategic environment than infoUSA, one that calls for different tactics. And at 33.00$ a lead (wich will not all turn into sales mind you) infoUSA probably could have made a more efficient buy. Let's see how long the ad's effect on sales lasts. I think they went for the notoriety, much more than the ROI. And that's the Right Reason, in the words of Michael Griffin, not the Acceptable Reason, to advertise on the Super Bowl. Notoriety, the monument to the brand, will live longer than next quarter's end.
virginia france - Posted on February 08, 2007
As usual, Denny, you are right on the mark! The point of the Super Bowl ads is not to sell but to gratify the egos of the client and the agency execs, who congratulate themselves on how clever the ad was and what good reviews they got. A few years ago when the "Got Milk?" ads were at their peak, everyone was happy-- Annie Leibowitz was happy, the magazines running the pages were happy, celebs and their PR firms were happy, the ad execs were happy. The only people who weren't happy were the farmers, who were paying for the ads, and hoped to see an increase in milk sales. After the ads had been running-- to universal acclaim-- for a few years, the California Milk Processor Board (the original client) admitted that although the ads hadn't caused milk consumption to go up, they believed that the millions of dollars they poured into the campaign caused the rate of decline to level off. http://www.milk.com/value/innovator-spring99.html
In other words, far from being a fabulous success, the ads were a miserable failure. But "Got Milk?" continues to be touted as a successful campaign. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Got_milk
James Gingerich - Posted on February 08, 2007
I agree with you Denny that the Sales Genie ad was the only one with measurable ROI. Unfortunately too many of the large consumer product manufacturing firms delude themselves into to believing that if they ARE NOT THERE their absence will noticed and their "image" will suffer. With the slow but inevitable demise of network TV's effectiveness as an advertising medium, these gurus seem to be primping themselves up about as much as those unfortunate few who attended the last ball aboard the Titanic.
Peter Hochsstein - Posted on February 08, 2007
Some chief execs don't get ROI even when it's putting money into their own pockets.

Years ago, at a very large agency that shall remain nameless, a "client" with a $25,000 account literally sneaked in via the CFO

Nobody wanted to touch him (or offend the high mucky-muck who let him in) and eventually he was palmed off on me.

He sold a financial forecasting service. I got a senior media guy to counsel him to put his $25,000 in the international edition of a business magazine.

That got him a full page ad. One time. I filled every inch of the page with copy. He got seven responses and complained like hell.

"Seven pathetic responses! You did a lousy job!" he groused to me.

"How many sales did those seven responses produce?" I asked.

"Only four."

"And what do you sell your service for?"

"A year's subscription coss $20,000."

"And do they renew?" I asked.

"A lot of them, yes."

"So in other words, you spent $25,000. You got back $100,000 in income this year alone. And let's say maybe $50,000 worth of renewals next year. A total return of $150,000 on an expenture of 25 grand. And you think I did a lousy job?"

"Yes," he huffed. "I'm never going to use YOU again."

You can't make this stuff up.
John Migs - Posted on February 08, 2007
Hey Denny,

While you and I criticize the critiques, those agency guys get the sports cars and the big budgets... some days I think we should forget ROI, forget impressing the CFO and go after the fat cats who want to look good at the country club with funny ads. What do you think? Is there time for us to change strategies?

John
Lara Fabans - Posted on February 08, 2007
I'm so glad you wrote this column. I watched the ads mentally thinking "cute but how am I going to remember WHICH beer product that is?" etc. Then when the salesgenie.com segment came on, I was blown away. I think they hit everything that you need to connect with your target audience and make it completely memorable. I don't think it will change a thing with the rest of the commercials, but it's nice to see that someone remembers what good direct marketing is about as opposed to pure entertainment.
Nathaniel - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny -
I have a question. Normally think you're 100% correct that gratuitously "cute" advertisements which break all the rules to stroke an agency's ego are wastes of money. But since, unlike most TV, a significant percentage of Superbowl fans and members of the press consciously watch, discuss, and evaluate the entertainment value of Superbowl ads, isn't this a special case? The buzz for Nationwide Annuity Federline commercial seemed pretty big before the Superbowl, and on Monday, groups and papers around the country were discussing the entertainment merits of Bud commercials vs others. Isn't there anything to be said for the additional press and discussion that Superbowl commercials garner? (Granted, ROI is still impossible to evaluate, but that will pretty much be the case for any Bud commercial, right?) Thanks -N
Todd - Posted on February 08, 2007
I love beer and pizza. Little Caesar?s has run some of the cutest commercials and picked up awards for them along the way. Many a Bud commercial has given me a laugh and led to more than one water cooler conversation. I?ve never bought a Little Caesar pizza and I prefer the beers of microbreweries for the taste. Denny is correct. Give me an offer or at least a reason try/buy and I may help someone get a return on their advertising dollars. Otherwise, you?ve only succeeded in entertaining me before I spend my money elsewhere.
Carl Street - Posted on February 08, 2007
Amen, Denny, Amen. Golden Parachute Guaranteed Stratospheric Fortune 500 executives are typically divorced from the realities of mercantile life. While in the military I learned early that the generals had little idea how the war was going in Vietnam -- they were moving pins on a map and plotting their career strategies. The only people who REALLY knew how the war was going were us guys on the ground; no "spin" doctor could protect us -- we were there. These ads reflect that mentality; they are designed to capture country club bragging rights and have far more to do with "ego share" than market share. As far as the "critics" go, they remind me of a Ph.D.sex education instructor who has never had a girl friend... :).
Carl Street
carl_street@cjstreet.com
Kimber Smith - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny,

In addition to your tenet that ads must sell, I also think people watching the ad want to be "that guy" -- you know, the guy who is using the product. I didn't want to be the guy who threw a rock at someone for a beer, I didn't want to be the marketing department watching scantily-clad women, I didn't want to be the guy who wrecked his car eating snacks, I didn't want to be the guy trying to outrace a card dropping out of the sky. Why would I buy these products?!

About the "ads must sell product only" -- I do think there's an exception of one company: Coca Cola, who also builds customer loyalty in its marketing mix. The company continues to be "the pause that refreshes" and the ads portrayed a happy, feel-good image in a creative and delightful way.
Andrew Billmann - Posted on February 08, 2007
As always, Denny, right on the money. Particularly about Bob Garfield. It's as if funny = sales. As if.

My personal barometer: "What does more good for the company: This ad, or taking the cost of this ad and handing out a corresponding number of dollar bills to people on the street?" For EVERY Super Bowl ad, it's the latter.

I'm only 36, not some crotchety curmudgeon that doesn't understand today's pop culture. I love to be entertained. I love to laugh. I thought a few of the ads were funny as hell, but even 10 minutes later, I couldn't tell you who the ads were for, much less the products.

I have NEVER understood how the entertainment component of creative execution has evolved into the cake -- it should never be more than the frosting.
David Garfinkel - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny, I couldn't agree with you more... the numbers tell the whole story. The mass-market icon buttons that the Sales Genie ad pushed... well, the ad might not meet everyone's aesthetic standards, but those icons are buried deep in the unconscious minds of many prospects. As the numbers show. And, as for the business stupidity of the other ads themselves and the "reviews" of those ads, I wonder if it has something to do with the notion that if you aren't a celebrity in America, you ain't nobody? It may just be that these entitled people think selling is too prosaic and plebian for their elevated status in the world, so they turn to... the world of entertainment! So they can be a celebrity! A mini-movie-maker! A mini-movie-critic! That's my theory.
Rob Finley - Posted on February 08, 2007
I agree with some of your comments, however, an entertaining ad is great for branding. Giants like Budweiser and Coke realize that. Small companies don't have that kind of money to throw around. As far as Connie's comment, the game was actually very good, if you understand football. I don't recall seeing a Superbowl with so many turnovers.
Charles Dupin de Saint Cyr - Posted on February 08, 2007
You know Denny, you are right!
My company is a direct competitor of Salesgenie, and we came out on Monday as SUPER happy that InfoUSA had such a cheesy ad (perhaps insulting to sales folks in terms of stereotypes?) -- we were thinking it might even backfire on them, but you are right: They had every element there, from the price incentive to the "no credit card required" (which I initially passed off as too basic, but now realize the power of..)

The only question I would ask is still regarding the stereotypes (red Ferrari, blond gal, low golf handicap): was that used as a filter (to pre-qualify the customer to their main audience), or was it aimed NOT at sales people; but rather list marketers who would certainly see sales folks in that way.
Connie - Posted on February 08, 2007
The Game Was Boring The Commericals Were Equal As Boring. We Need To Bring Back The Good OLd Advertising Days
Where You Could Understand the Point The Commerical Was Trying To Make...
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Rob J - Omaha, NE - Posted on February 22, 2007
Craig Swerdloff - Posted on February 12, 2007
Denny,

In Direct Marketing the numbers tell the whole story. Unfortunately for InfoUSA, the Salesgenie.com numbers are not nearly as impressive as they seem. They generated 18,000 prospects, which are nothing more than unqualified, unpaid, interested parties. Assuming the product is great, I would expect the conversion rate from leads into paid customers to be nearly 10% (a very high number for online credit card conversion). If each customer is worth $1,000, then Salesgenie.com generated less than $2MM in revenue for a $2.6MM commercial (not including production costs and their pre-game sponsorship). No one knows the exact numbers besides for InfoUSA, but all indications are they will not be back in 2008.
Ron Shevlin - Posted on February 09, 2007
I may be misquoting here, but I seem to recall that Jack Welch once said that the real purpose of TV advertising was to make the employees of the company being advertised feel better about the company they work for.

Look, if this is what these companies want to spend their money on, fine by me. (just as long as I don't work there, don't invest them, or have them as clients!)
Bernie Malonson - Posted on February 09, 2007
In the words of Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film Jerry Maquire, "Show Me The Money!".

I agree that SalesGenie may be the only one who actually will be able to tie their SuperBowl spend to their bottomline. All the hoo-ha about impressions, branding, etc. is completely self-serving.

Case in point, the GM robot ad. Cute, but Detroit is still sinking into oblivion. How does this ad sell more cars? It gives me no solid reason to buy a GM vehicle.

Oh I forgot, at 15% commission, buying Superbowl time may not be a bad way for an agency to make some money of an unsuspecting advertiser.
Bill Cornish - Posted on February 09, 2007
Am I missing the point here? I am not a marketing pro, so I'm not going to br offended if you do not print this. It seems to me though that the real marketing lesson occurred a few days earlier in the week. Turner Broadcasting (or something) put signs up in 8 cities that immediately got them several minutes of prime news time advertising on every station in the country several times over 3-4 days for a paltry $2 million, or 23% discount from 30 seconds on CBS one time in the year. If the objective is to get the most bang for the buck, didn't Turner beat everyone else hands down?

The only problem is, as you point out, does anyone remember the name of the movie that Turner was plugging? I don't, so his ROI from me is zero.
Jim - Posted on February 09, 2007
Jim Brown - Posted on February 08, 2007
Well, Mr. Billman I am that crotchety curmudgeon and I agree with you anyway.
Donna - Posted on February 08, 2007
We TiVo'd the game and fast-forwarded through to the ads. I was monumentally disappointed and thought most were not creative but stooooopid! MyDaddy or BigDaddy - don't know what it is and don't care - who really wants to do business with a company that is all about partying unless they are into catering?? Both my husband I and felt there were more ads for network shows and wondered outloud if they had a problem selling time! Perhaps because there is no ROI???
David N. Rosen - Posted on February 08, 2007
The Great Annual Superbowl Advertising Spectacle is actually a religious festival, presided over by a team of the most self-important and self-congratulatory priesthoods in history: the Cult of "Creativity" and the Holy Order of Brand Marketing Mystics . Sales? ROI? Insignificant details compared with the really important objective of glorifying the holy brand and showing how clever we are (not necessarily in that order).
Denis - Posted on February 08, 2007
Sorry! I have to disagree with you on the rules of advertising. In an entertainment venue, where people are not receptive to your message if it's not entertaining, you had better be creative or risk being tuned out. Salespeople are there to sell, not advertising. Advertising is there to boost brand awareness and liking, communicate benefits and information, maybe send a call to action. A 30 second spot can't do what a page long letter or a half hour sales pitch, with it's back and forth, can do. It can however try to capture your attention and make you feel more favorable towards the brand when the time comes to make a purchase. The cute ads try to achieve that goal. Some do it well, some fail miserably. Other ads might just have entirely different goals. I'm very happy for infoUSA that their retail-type ad worked so well. It's not however the only benchmark of success. I'm sure that GM faces a very different strategic environment than infoUSA, one that calls for different tactics. And at 33.00$ a lead (wich will not all turn into sales mind you) infoUSA probably could have made a more efficient buy. Let's see how long the ad's effect on sales lasts. I think they went for the notoriety, much more than the ROI. And that's the Right Reason, in the words of Michael Griffin, not the Acceptable Reason, to advertise on the Super Bowl. Notoriety, the monument to the brand, will live longer than next quarter's end.
virginia france - Posted on February 08, 2007
As usual, Denny, you are right on the mark! The point of the Super Bowl ads is not to sell but to gratify the egos of the client and the agency execs, who congratulate themselves on how clever the ad was and what good reviews they got. A few years ago when the "Got Milk?" ads were at their peak, everyone was happy-- Annie Leibowitz was happy, the magazines running the pages were happy, celebs and their PR firms were happy, the ad execs were happy. The only people who weren't happy were the farmers, who were paying for the ads, and hoped to see an increase in milk sales. After the ads had been running-- to universal acclaim-- for a few years, the California Milk Processor Board (the original client) admitted that although the ads hadn't caused milk consumption to go up, they believed that the millions of dollars they poured into the campaign caused the rate of decline to level off. http://www.milk.com/value/innovator-spring99.html
In other words, far from being a fabulous success, the ads were a miserable failure. But "Got Milk?" continues to be touted as a successful campaign. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Got_milk
James Gingerich - Posted on February 08, 2007
I agree with you Denny that the Sales Genie ad was the only one with measurable ROI. Unfortunately too many of the large consumer product manufacturing firms delude themselves into to believing that if they ARE NOT THERE their absence will noticed and their "image" will suffer. With the slow but inevitable demise of network TV's effectiveness as an advertising medium, these gurus seem to be primping themselves up about as much as those unfortunate few who attended the last ball aboard the Titanic.
Peter Hochsstein - Posted on February 08, 2007
Some chief execs don't get ROI even when it's putting money into their own pockets.

Years ago, at a very large agency that shall remain nameless, a "client" with a $25,000 account literally sneaked in via the CFO

Nobody wanted to touch him (or offend the high mucky-muck who let him in) and eventually he was palmed off on me.

He sold a financial forecasting service. I got a senior media guy to counsel him to put his $25,000 in the international edition of a business magazine.

That got him a full page ad. One time. I filled every inch of the page with copy. He got seven responses and complained like hell.

"Seven pathetic responses! You did a lousy job!" he groused to me.

"How many sales did those seven responses produce?" I asked.

"Only four."

"And what do you sell your service for?"

"A year's subscription coss $20,000."

"And do they renew?" I asked.

"A lot of them, yes."

"So in other words, you spent $25,000. You got back $100,000 in income this year alone. And let's say maybe $50,000 worth of renewals next year. A total return of $150,000 on an expenture of 25 grand. And you think I did a lousy job?"

"Yes," he huffed. "I'm never going to use YOU again."

You can't make this stuff up.
John Migs - Posted on February 08, 2007
Hey Denny,

While you and I criticize the critiques, those agency guys get the sports cars and the big budgets... some days I think we should forget ROI, forget impressing the CFO and go after the fat cats who want to look good at the country club with funny ads. What do you think? Is there time for us to change strategies?

John
Lara Fabans - Posted on February 08, 2007
I'm so glad you wrote this column. I watched the ads mentally thinking "cute but how am I going to remember WHICH beer product that is?" etc. Then when the salesgenie.com segment came on, I was blown away. I think they hit everything that you need to connect with your target audience and make it completely memorable. I don't think it will change a thing with the rest of the commercials, but it's nice to see that someone remembers what good direct marketing is about as opposed to pure entertainment.
Nathaniel - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny -
I have a question. Normally think you're 100% correct that gratuitously "cute" advertisements which break all the rules to stroke an agency's ego are wastes of money. But since, unlike most TV, a significant percentage of Superbowl fans and members of the press consciously watch, discuss, and evaluate the entertainment value of Superbowl ads, isn't this a special case? The buzz for Nationwide Annuity Federline commercial seemed pretty big before the Superbowl, and on Monday, groups and papers around the country were discussing the entertainment merits of Bud commercials vs others. Isn't there anything to be said for the additional press and discussion that Superbowl commercials garner? (Granted, ROI is still impossible to evaluate, but that will pretty much be the case for any Bud commercial, right?) Thanks -N
Todd - Posted on February 08, 2007
I love beer and pizza. Little Caesar?s has run some of the cutest commercials and picked up awards for them along the way. Many a Bud commercial has given me a laugh and led to more than one water cooler conversation. I?ve never bought a Little Caesar pizza and I prefer the beers of microbreweries for the taste. Denny is correct. Give me an offer or at least a reason try/buy and I may help someone get a return on their advertising dollars. Otherwise, you?ve only succeeded in entertaining me before I spend my money elsewhere.
Carl Street - Posted on February 08, 2007
Amen, Denny, Amen. Golden Parachute Guaranteed Stratospheric Fortune 500 executives are typically divorced from the realities of mercantile life. While in the military I learned early that the generals had little idea how the war was going in Vietnam -- they were moving pins on a map and plotting their career strategies. The only people who REALLY knew how the war was going were us guys on the ground; no "spin" doctor could protect us -- we were there. These ads reflect that mentality; they are designed to capture country club bragging rights and have far more to do with "ego share" than market share. As far as the "critics" go, they remind me of a Ph.D.sex education instructor who has never had a girl friend... :).
Carl Street
carl_street@cjstreet.com
Kimber Smith - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny,

In addition to your tenet that ads must sell, I also think people watching the ad want to be "that guy" -- you know, the guy who is using the product. I didn't want to be the guy who threw a rock at someone for a beer, I didn't want to be the marketing department watching scantily-clad women, I didn't want to be the guy who wrecked his car eating snacks, I didn't want to be the guy trying to outrace a card dropping out of the sky. Why would I buy these products?!

About the "ads must sell product only" -- I do think there's an exception of one company: Coca Cola, who also builds customer loyalty in its marketing mix. The company continues to be "the pause that refreshes" and the ads portrayed a happy, feel-good image in a creative and delightful way.
Andrew Billmann - Posted on February 08, 2007
As always, Denny, right on the money. Particularly about Bob Garfield. It's as if funny = sales. As if.

My personal barometer: "What does more good for the company: This ad, or taking the cost of this ad and handing out a corresponding number of dollar bills to people on the street?" For EVERY Super Bowl ad, it's the latter.

I'm only 36, not some crotchety curmudgeon that doesn't understand today's pop culture. I love to be entertained. I love to laugh. I thought a few of the ads were funny as hell, but even 10 minutes later, I couldn't tell you who the ads were for, much less the products.

I have NEVER understood how the entertainment component of creative execution has evolved into the cake -- it should never be more than the frosting.
David Garfinkel - Posted on February 08, 2007
Denny, I couldn't agree with you more... the numbers tell the whole story. The mass-market icon buttons that the Sales Genie ad pushed... well, the ad might not meet everyone's aesthetic standards, but those icons are buried deep in the unconscious minds of many prospects. As the numbers show. And, as for the business stupidity of the other ads themselves and the "reviews" of those ads, I wonder if it has something to do with the notion that if you aren't a celebrity in America, you ain't nobody? It may just be that these entitled people think selling is too prosaic and plebian for their elevated status in the world, so they turn to... the world of entertainment! So they can be a celebrity! A mini-movie-maker! A mini-movie-critic! That's my theory.
Rob Finley - Posted on February 08, 2007
I agree with some of your comments, however, an entertaining ad is great for branding. Giants like Budweiser and Coke realize that. Small companies don't have that kind of money to throw around. As far as Connie's comment, the game was actually very good, if you understand football. I don't recall seeing a Superbowl with so many turnovers.
Charles Dupin de Saint Cyr - Posted on February 08, 2007
You know Denny, you are right!
My company is a direct competitor of Salesgenie, and we came out on Monday as SUPER happy that InfoUSA had such a cheesy ad (perhaps insulting to sales folks in terms of stereotypes?) -- we were thinking it might even backfire on them, but you are right: They had every element there, from the price incentive to the "no credit card required" (which I initially passed off as too basic, but now realize the power of..)

The only question I would ask is still regarding the stereotypes (red Ferrari, blond gal, low golf handicap): was that used as a filter (to pre-qualify the customer to their main audience), or was it aimed NOT at sales people; but rather list marketers who would certainly see sales folks in that way.
Connie - Posted on February 08, 2007
The Game Was Boring The Commericals Were Equal As Boring. We Need To Bring Back The Good OLd Advertising Days
Where You Could Understand the Point The Commerical Was Trying To Make...