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2011 Superbowl Commercials

$3,000,000 for 30 Seconds

2nd Annual Superbowl Awards from Teakwood Marketing

Big Bucks
At $3 million dollars for a 30 second commercial (or $100,000 per second), the Superbowl is a chance to view the best advertising efforts that big business (mostly cars and beer) can come up.  For the small business owner, there are nuggets of wisdom hidden in this viewing experience. Here are my Superbowl Awards, observations and how you can apply them to improve your own marketing efforts (without the hefty price tag!)

The Setting

Nugget #1 – Target prospects in the mid range area with your marketing message and not just the low hanging fruit of the up close people.  You are going to convert your share of the up close ones anyway.  It’s the mid range that has opportunity.

Cute & Funny Award
Hands down winner is the Volkswagen’s Passat “The Force” spot with a little guy in a Darth Vader costume unsuccessfully trying to tap into supernatural powers.  The remarkable element of this spot is that the kid in the Vader costume is powerfully expressive yet we can’t even see his face!  It’s cute.  It’s funny.  It’s memorable for the kid, but not for VW.  I don’t think cute and funny are Passat’s brand traits.

Nugget #2 – Cute gets attention.  So does funny.  Once you have your prospect’s attention, you have to give them more than just a laugh.  That is the moment to give them value.

GOLD Medal for Brand Message
Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” spot featuring rapper Eminem is provocative, motivating and contains a powerful “brand” punch for Detroit and the American car industry.  It’s not so much about the Cadillac brand.  This spot makes me want to “Buy American” and feel good about doing it.  It’s not how many times you get knocked down that is important, but how many times you get back up.

Nugget #3 – Tell a good story.  Make sure that it is well-written and connects with the prospect’s emotions.  Do that and your prospects will listen.  The lasting effect of that message will outlive cute and funny everytime.

Stinker Award
The Groupon Tibet spot has been getting a lot of flack for having crossed the line of good taste.  The spot begins with celebrity Timothy Hutton dramatically explaining the plight of a struggling culture and then shifts to a light-hearted commentary about saving money.  At first, I agreed with the critics as this seemed a bit tacky.  But a little bit of research shows that Groupon has used this formula successfully before with Cuba Gooding Jr. about Saving the Whales and with Elizabeth Hurley protecting the Brazilian rain forest.   I guarantee that all those who had a negative impression of the Groupon Tibetan Superbowl ad never saw the previous ads with Gooding and Hurley.  On a smaller scale, these ads aren’t that obnoxious as the parody is clear.  However, on the big scale of the Superbowl, this was a first time introduction to millions of people about Groupon and the parody simply didn’t work.  With all of the negative publicity that was generated, I bet Groupon wishes they had their $3 million back.

Nugget #4 –Parody is two edge sword in advertising.  Parts of your target market will get the parody, others parts may be offended.  If you are going for humor, it is a safer bet, but less sophisticated, to go with slapstick humor because everyone gets that you are trying to be funny (whether you are or not).

Best Slap Stick Moment
Snickers. Roseanne Barr whining and then smacked down.  What more is there to say?

Nugget #5 – Don’t whine. People don’t like that.

Most Effective Product Introduction
The most watch television event of the year is an opportunity to introduce your product on the world’s stage.   There were several efforts at this including Best Buy’s Buy Back/6G spot with Ozzy and Bieber as well as Teleflora’s off color – Help Me Faith spot.  I thought the winner was Motorola’s Empower the People spot that introduced its Xoom tablet as an alternative to iPad.  The spot parallels Apples 1984 spot about breaking away from Windows domination.  But in 2011, Apple’s iPad is the dominate tablet brand and Xoom is on the map as a renegade. Americans tend to like renegades.

Nugget #6 – Maximize the opportunity.  The Superbowl is one of the most effective ways to get your product on the map.  When making advertising decisions, consider the sweet spot of the tactic.  Take into account the size and demographics of the market, combined with the technology available to deliver the message and your strategic goals.

Personal Note from Drew
I’ve been asked who I was rooting for during the game.  I am a Bengal fan.  I do not like the Steelers.  I am ambivalent toward the Packers.  But you have to root for somebody in order to really enjoy the game.  After weeks of contemplation, I chose to root for the Steelers because I like Troy Polomalu’s hair better than the Packer’s Clay Matthews…Troy, you let me down.

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