Is it time to rethink what Super Bowl advertising is all about?…

I promise to keep this brief. By 6:00 pm on Monday following Super-Bowl-Sunday, pretty much everything that can be written about the game, the half-time show, and the much-anticipated ads already has been said.

My question is simply: Isn’t it time to re-think the formula used for promoting on the Super Bowl? Or is it just too much of a sacred cow for brands and agencies to wrap their collective noggins around?

The time-honored recipe of football interspersed with ads for cars, beer, and snacks, with a handful of random one-offs (the “cats and dogs” of advertising, if you will) is getting tired and maybe should be retired. Example: Eminem did a good job in two spots…one pitching a soft drink and the other a city that apparently still  makes cars…but do we need the same spokesperson doing both? Isn’t there another icon that crosses ethnic, social and gender categories that could have done one of these? Or is he the only persona up for the job?

Every year I get all jazzed up about the creative on display, and lately I have been increasingly disappointed by the work. My resolution: no longer will I run to the restroom during the game in order to be back, seated comfortably, for the next commercial interruption. I’m afraid it has gotten to that point…

There needs to be a better way to bring a brand to life on the world’s biggest event stage. At least something that doesn’t  stoop so low as to search for humor while stepping on the backs of those struggling to survive in an oppressed society, solely in order to peddle discount coupons. That one ad was, for me, a tipping point (shout out to Malcolm Gladwell)… I can tell you one thing: I won’t view Groupons the same ever again…

The “lowest common denominator” in advertising, indeed in most aspects of American society, has been in a precipitous free fall for years. You have to go back pretty far in time to find when advertising was meant to inform, not titillate (or offend)…This was not what David Ogilvy had in mind, I am pretty sure of that…

What’s the answer? I don’t know. But the first step to recovery is always the acknowledgement that you have a problem. Is marketing and branding there? Or have we not yet hit bottom?

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2 responses to “Is it time to rethink what Super Bowl advertising is all about?…

  1. I hope it has already hit bottom because then there’s nowhere to go but up!

    I really think, or at least like to think, that people are waking up, becoming smarter about what they buy, who and what they choose to support, what their own impact in the world may be, and have a good understanding of how they are being marketed to. Hopefully the masses will start to demand better and the lowest common denominator will have to be raised.

    The GroupOn ads in particular were completely tasteless. But what’s turned me off even more is that the CEO is standing up for them! They are clearly disconnected! Whatever their intent, the message was not received and they hit a sour note with a lot of people.

  2. Thank you, Janna, for sharing your thoughts, and for visiting ideationz!
    It is amazing to many how inane so much of our advertising has become. I am by no means a prude, and I enjoy a good laugh as much as anybody…but there is a difference between slapstick and toilet humor. There is nothing wrong with being silly, satirical, ridiculous or profane…but if I am going to use humor in the context of brand building, I have to be cautious about which market segment I am going to risk offending. Too often there simply are no filters in place to assure that my target audience is in on the joke, and that they will find it humorous, memorable and appropriate to my brand.
    I have to think that our creative agencies can do much, much better…

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