Super Bowl Ad Critics: A Cult of Know-Nothings
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