Want to know how to have a great Super Bowl spot? Easy…don’t plan on putting it in the Super Bowl.

Much has been written about the disappointing, and mediocre ads that showed up in Super Bowl XLIV’s lineup, which was a clear sign that agencies and marketers are still very very cautious (for fear of being fired by clients and customers respectively).

But why has caution in today’s advertising world led to an even deeper and more indistinguishable sea of sameness? Where you could replace one logo or tagline with another and it would stay pretty much the same. Super Bowl marketers this year were clearly focused on the context of their ads, not the content – seeking to be at the top of the feel-good “funny and witty” list rather than the top of their customer’s relevancy list.   

For years, brands like Bud Light and more recently Doritos have made so much press over the laughs and commentary they generate, but is that all Super Bowl advertising has become? There were countless Bud Light wannabees in this year’s Bowl, which is the biggest stage for the world’s brightest advertisers…and we’re all seeking a fist pump and chuckle? Something is wrong here.  Yes, people enjoy the common humor and witty lines in the Super Bowl, and yes, they like well-written spoofs….but not from EVERYONE. In this game, the players are clearly visible….Go Daddy will come in with something raunchy, Bud Light will do something surprising and funny, Bud will make dalmations and clydesdales loveable, and…Intel will make fun of a robot? Wait what? Does that fit to you? This is the ultimate in contextual advertising gone wrong.

Why not use the ultimate stage of advertising to really stand out. To further strengthen the connection consumers have with YOUR brand and YOUR value proposition. One marketer deserves a hand shake and recognition for getting it right, but – get this – they didn’t even plan to have the spot be in the Super Bowl. The ad made it into the big game nearly by accident and completely unplanned all because it’s story resonated so strongly with customers. Could that be what made it so great….because it wasn’t meant for the Super Bowl at all?

Kudos to Google for taking the Super Bowl and using it to promote their brand and to remind people just how valuable Google is for our everyday lives. No matter that the spot wasn’t planned for the big game, boy was it ever special. It was clear that Google didn’t write the script with the game in mind, but with the story they wanted to tell. It marketed its brand, its relevance and its value. And it succeeded.

To the rest that I can barely remember – if you are wondering, yes, I laughed. Yes I took a sip of beer, ate a handful of chips, high-fived. You got me. Then, I got lost in the next 30 seconds of sameness….more laughs….more high-fives….more chips….”wait, what did that ad say?”

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About mjkurb

Michael is the Manager of Business Development at Element 79, a full-service advertising agency in Chicago, Illinois, and recent graduate of the Master's program at Northwestern University - Medill School - Integrated Marketing Communicaitons. Running two family businesses - learned to constantly listen and be aware of customer's needs and behaviors. Master's degree Northwestern University | Medill IMC - learned to better understand marketing insight, strategy and measurement. Rest of life - learned that working harder, smarter and faster than others is how you stay one step ahead.
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