As marketing professionals will do, we gather round the television for the "Big Game" on a cold winter's night (used to be on a Sunday in January... you know the one) to enjoy the game, and of course, the slate of new ads from the greatest brand-agency minds on the planet. It's a tradition. For many, it's the night of the "Big Ads" with a little football intermingled to break up the suspense.
In my first agency experience, we would gather the Monday morning for an informal mimosa-heavy breakfast meeting (think hair of the dog) to talk about our favorite ads and debate the lasting consumer appeal, brand engagement and the like. Of course, this was back in the days when the internet was new and the "second and third screens" were still a glimmer in the eyes of those working feverishly to downsize cell phones from bricks to something a much easier to carry.
Fast forward to this year's collection of concepts. I do so with new tools and the ability to read first hand the thinking from among the greatest minds in brand development - David Sable, CEO at Y&R Advertising - while enjoying my protein shake (yes, the times have changed). I caught his take from his LinkedIn article "Super GMOOT Bowl".
Mr. Sable presents an interesting and well thought take on his personal "Big Game" experience as this was his fourth time in attendance with what he called, "...this piece of Americana and sportsmanship."
His focus was on how the advertisers got lost along the way. Sable asserts that advertisers this time around were too focused on extending the ads in attempt to get them to jump to the second screen - as he puts it they, "traded content for clicks." This year, many advertisers engaged in an ill fated social media strategy to somehow garner more engagement by releasing their ads via social media. Advertisers wanted the share via social channels before all of us got to enjoy the common, shared human experience of the game.
And, that was the real hidden genius in Mr. Sable's piece. I loved how he talked passionately about his experience. He even enjoyed the experience of paying "$14, not including the mustard" for a pretzel simply because it was part of his experience. The experience he shared with the 80,000 people in attendance at the game.
I agree with Mr. Sable. The strategy fell flat. Remember, the great value placing the ad on that special TV watching day - anticipation and a shared human experience. An enormous captive audience is waiting to see what the new collection of brilliant ads would look like. For a huge portion of the audience, this is the only football game they'll watch the entire year. And, yet the advertisers put the pretty red delivery wagon in front of the Clydesdales so to speak. I don't want to see the bride's dress until she's coming down the aisle.
My experience was like the millions of other viewers at home. I had my warm fire going, a few friends and my family with plenty of snacks that my doctor wouldn't approve of - all rallied around the tube. The game was secondary to the commentary and conversation. But a hush fell when the spot breaks aired. We anticipated and then, the disruption of a friend blurting out, "oh yeah, I saw this the other day, not very good..." Dude, you just ruined my game day fun! Haven't these guys heard the concept of spoiler alert?
Irrespective of what your critique of the quality of the ads this year the failure, I submit, was the execution: they delivered the surprise out of sequence. The advertisers robbed the consumer of the authentic experience that's part of the "Big Game." Likely, they were full of good intentions thinking that it would somehow extend the investment by reducing the CPM via increased reach and frequency.
They got it bass-ackwards... Wrap the social media marketing strategy and public relations messaging around the perimeter of the experience. Your audience has been bombarded over its lifetime with myriad messages - most of which aren't very thoughtful or creative - and thus ring hollow on the authenticity scale. The consumer gets it. They don't mind being sold - just do it with some appreciation for the shared human experience or event that got you there in the first place.
Leave our consumer experiences to themselves. To the best of your ability, be present in their lives but on the perimeter - inviting them to engage if they so choose. Where possible, create platforms in the context of the shared experience that will give the consumer/customer a reason to have a more permanent, deep relationship with your brand. Authentically participate in the lives of the consumer. In short, stop selling, get real and connect. The sharing will happen organically.
Respect the experience and they will LOVE you. Then, watch your brand really take off.
...the bottom line is that most people agree that, with a few exceptions, this crop of Super Bowl ads is pretty lackluster. The ideas are less about what’s right for the brand than whether the work is something that can “go viral.” They traded content for clicks. And settled for headlines, which are fleeting, rather than brand stories, which can be enduring. So in the end, the GMOOT template of obligatory cute animals, the stupid tricks and the babies add up to formulaic advertising. Dull, forgettable and no doubt ineffective. ~ David Sable, CEO Y&R Advertising from a LinkedIn post (Feb. 5, 2013)
About Hot Air Marketing...
Hot Air Marketing is a experiential public relations and community relations activation consultancy. We partner with PR agencies and their clients - or directly with brand managers to develop and execute hot air balloon themed PR campaigns throughout the region and nationally.
If you are a PR professional, brand manager, or social media guru looking for new ways to capture the hearts of your customers, we should talk.
Simply put, we utilize the power of hot air balloons as a vehicle to make memorable connections with your customers and prospects. We will help take your brand to new heights.
Learn more at www.HotAirMarketing.com - yes, we ARE full of hot air.
Hot Air Marketing is led by Brian Hoyle, a marketing strategist and a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Brian has more than 25 years experience driving revenue and brand value for the brands, clients and non-profits he's served.