Advertising on the Biggest Entertainment Stage

As most marketers have done today, I’ve read many posts and articles about the big game last night: the winners and losers of the “ad bowl”; why Nationwide made such a goof; how Loctite took a gamble and how everyone spent most of the game crying.

This year’s Super Bowl was certainly worth remembering. As NFL fans, we work ourselves up to a frenzy in anticipation of this one game, but all too often, we are disappointed by a lopsided score and a game that doesn’t really feel as competitive as it should be. If you know me, you know I’m a Saints fan. So, the 2010 matchup will always hold the top place in my heart. However, I do have to say that this year’s game was excellent…true entertainment experience from beginning to end. I know I wasn’t alone in that moment when I gasped thinking my cable signal had gone out just at the top of the game nor was I alone in that last gasp when the most unexpected interception of the season happened. Wow!

For the last four years, a fellow marketer, Debbie Laskey has graciously asked me to participate in a post review of the game ads. It’s been great to hear her point of view. Although she asked again this year, she was unfortunately put on the sidelines by a sudden illness. With her on injured reserve, I felt the need to carry the torch for the two of us. In the past we’ve done our take on winners and losers. This year, I think I’m going to go with the “winners of the quarter”.

For me the hands-down winner for first quarter was that epic spot by Chevy. If you want to stand out in a field of excellent marketers, shock and awe are a way to go and boy did they do it. Unfortunately for Esurance, their spot with Lindsay Lohan followed it immediately and was lost in the “What just happened?” discussions that abounded in homes and online. I realize that this spot may not have technically been a “Super Bowl ad”, but it was just too good to keep it out of play. Offsides for jumping off the line early. I’ll take the penalty.

Second quarter obviously went to “Lost Puppy” from Budweiser.  Successful sequels are few and far between. It’s like lightning striking twice on the same spot. No offense, but do we really think Furious 7 is going to match the essence and unexpected success of the original. We all remember the VW Star Wars kid like it we just saw that ad yesterday. The sequel was…an approach. The animal love factor just didn’t work until Budweiser thought to take a turn at it. We fell in love with that little puppy last year as if we could smell that sweet puppy smell right through the television. When Budweiser announced they would follow up with a sequel, I thought, “Oh please, be good.” It was.

Liam Neeson is a gamer? Who knew? Third quarter goes to Supercell’s Clash of Clans spot “Revenge”. In the years that I’ve worked on this annual review, I’ve stayed away from game ads. The very business they’re in is dependent on an attention grabbing platform. I think they have a bit of an advantage. What I loved about this spot was that I was absolutely surprised. From a consumer point of view you start to realize that maybe gaming isn’t just for darkened basements (no offense to you gamers). This is a 62-year-old action hero. If it’s cool enough for him, maybe it’s cool enough for all of us Boomers.

My fourth quarter winner isn’t as clear. Like video games, I typically don’t include movie promotions. The makers of movie trailers are genius. You take one shot and without knowing if this movie is even good, you drive people by the thousands to buy tickets. Am I going to see Ted2? Ummm….probably not, but what I loved about the spot was the use of Tom Brady. I love a commercial that leverages the program it’s running in. So right…and yet, so wrong.

My other leader is Mophie – a brand with a niche audience, and yet it signed God as the spokesperson. Hey, if that’s your spokesperson, the Super Bowl seems like the proper stage. I also liked the storytelling aspect of the spot.

My original goal was to pick four and only four advertisers to spotlight, but as a marketer, I feel I need to give some voice to some additional brands. Halftime: mad props to The Voice. I’ve only ever seen one episode of The Voice, but might just try becoming a regular viewer now. A Thunderdome-style battle of the voices? I can watch that. Honorable mention goes to BMW. How many of you emailed that info email address to unlock an entry to win a new i3? McDonald’s just slammed Twitter with retweets. Who expected them to do so many giveaways?

Special mention must go to Loctite. What a gamble! I don’t love the spot. Heck, I don’t even like the spot, but I have to admire the guts it took to spend that kind of budget on a one-time roll of the dice. As a marketer, I feel the need to go out and buy some glue. I think you should too.

Advertising on the Biggest Entertainment Stage

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

My Saints didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Even though I feel like New Orleans was properly represented last night in the form of hometown hero Eli Manning, I really didn’t have too much of an interest in the program until a Twitter friend, Debbie Laskey reached out to me and proposed a joint blog post – a bit of a she said/she said approach to reviewing last night’s advertising contribution.

First dear readers, I’d like to introduce you to my partner in review. Debbie Laskey has 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree. She developed her marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. Currently, Debbie is a brand marketing, social media, and employee engagement consultant to small businesses, start-ups, and non-profits in Los Angeles, California. Recognized as a “Woman Making a Difference” by the Los Angeles Business Journal, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition since 2002. If you’re not already doing so, I highly recommend you follow Debbie on Twitter ( and on her Blog (

 So, Debbie, what did you think of last night’s program?

As a brand marketing professional, I can remember a large number of yesterday’s Super Bowl ads, but then, I may have been more interested in the ads than the game (since no California teams were playing).

My favorites have always been the Coca-Cola polar bear ads and the Budweiser Clydesdales ads, and this year, those ads did not disappoint. But what others stood out? I liked the Hyundai “Cheetah” ad because the cheetah did not want to race the car. Check out the “Behind the Scenes” video on YouTube to see how the ad was made.

I also liked the Chevrolet “Happy Grad” ad – very amusing and definitely made you laugh. I also liked Pepsi’s “King’s Court” ad featuring Elton John – the theme was universal because everyone wants “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Everyone was waiting for Volkswagen’s follow-up to last year’s Darth Vader ad. Since that ad was my favorite last year, I hoped VW created something special. But there was no “Wow” factor in the “The Dog Strikes Back.” Sure, I liked the exercising dog and the “ad within an ad” featuring the Star Wars bar scene, but maybe, VW should have taken a year off?

There were some ads that fell flat for me. I didn’t like Bud Light’s “Platinum” ads – they lacked energy and as a result, didn’t seem to have a message. The Hulu ads were boring. The Chevy Silverado “Apocalypse” ad was too dark – the theme that Chevy trucks are the most long-lasting could have been achieved in a better way. Audi’s “So Long Vampires” lacked creativity and didn’t focus on why an Audi vehicle may be the best in its class. The Jerry Seinfeld/Jay Leno ad for Acura and the Doritos ads were bland. Finally, last year’s Go Daddy ad featuring Joan Rivers was funny, and unfortunately, that same humor was missing from many ads this year.

And what did I think?

I have to say Super Bowl this year was a bit of a flip for me. The game was great all the way until the very end, but the commercials were less than satisfying for me. I think I miss the creativity and entertainment of those old beer commercials, and honestly, I don’t know how that happened. Trust me. I’m not looking for another round of WASSUP!

I do think there were a few spots that stood out to me in the plethora of B and C-rated work.

M&Ms: Just My Shell – Kudos to them for continuously creating characters we love to watch (and eat). This one literally made me laugh out loud. It was so unexpected and so much fun.

Budweiser: Return of the King and Eternal Optimism – This is just classic Budweiser advertising. It tugs at your sense of patriotism and reminds you that Budweiser is always there at the intersection of life and celebration. Plus, in my book, any time you throw in the Clydesdales, I think you have a winner.

Sketchers: Mr. Quiggly – Who in their right mind didn’t laugh as this French bulldog crossed the finish line in style? Throw in a little contract negotiation with Mark Cuban and you’ve got the unexpected humor that only great commercials can deliver.

Chrysler : It’s Halftime In America – I’ll admit I wasn’t blown away by last year’s anthem to Detroit, but this year, my story is different. It was another tug at the patriotic heartstrings, but with the punch of the all-American tough guy, Clint Eastwood. Wow! I even admire the placement. Everything was so well programmed – the copy, the timing, the reveal.  Excellent work.  I think this one will go down in my books as one of the smartest ads I’ve ever seen.

Honda: Mathew’s Day Off – How could I make a list of top spots without Ferris Beuller? I just loved this spot, but I don’t think I’m going to be buying a CRV anytime soon. It felt very true to the original inspiration and for that, they deserve a top spot on my list.

Then, there were some spots that made me think, “What was a waste of the big money it takes to be on the Super Bowl?”

GE – Look I get it. When you’ve got a giant company that people only think of as electricity, you have to show you’re more. What better place to do that than in the biggest show on Earth. GE tried to make a human connection, but still seemed cold and distant. – What was that? Surely there was a better way to show how can raise your confidence level without some strange alien life form emerging from your back.

Etrade: Fatherhood – I think it’s time to let this baby grow up. He’s just not that cute unexpected kid anymore. Seriously, is that child in high school yet?

My biggest letdown: Pepsi. This had the building blocks of something really remarkable, but it just didn’t hit the spot with me.

As Debbie said to me: The countdown to Super Bowl 2013 starts today! I’ll be rooting for my Saints and some really great creative to make it to the game.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

My Year in Review

2010 has moved faster than I can ever recall. It was a whirlwind of change and highs and lows of varying degrees.

Watching the Saints win the Super Bowl. The memory still brings tears to my eyes, and I know that no matter what happens this (or any) season, Saints fans around the world will always have that moment.

The sight of oil-covered pelicans that struggled for so long to come off the endangered list.

Watching miner after miner come out of the ground in Chile into the arms of loved ones.

It was an exciting year for me to work at Isle of Capri Casinos.

We had the chance to really update the Isle of Capri brand to something that felt a little more energized and fresh. Working with mostly first-generation riverboats, this task is easier said than done when everyone would just love to have a one-level Las Vegas-style casino. Unfortunately, capital was not that easy to get in this economy. So we had to do it with operations and a little creativity. Happy to say that we did it!

Our Otis & Henry’s restaurant brand is coming along fabulously! At the close of the year we now have a fourth outlet located in Lake Charles, LA. The Lone Wolf brand is growing as well, with a third location now open in Kansas City, MO.

I was reunited with two old friends, the first was the woman who introduced me to the casino business. The other was someone I worked with at Harrah’s New Orleans. I have great memories of both and hope to create new ones.

I was given the chance to be part of some really big, game-changing projects.

We finally photographed all of our executives in a way which I think better reflects the soul and personality of our organization.

Virginia, I might have to call the turn, if not for the economy, at least for the company.

I realized how blessed I am to work with some really great people.

I established some great virtual relationships with many great thinkers because of the global use of social media.

As we reach the end of the year, I have some very cool projects on my plate: a great repositioning of one of our brands, a new dining brand to differentiate our offerings, the introduction of an improved program for our guests, and the excitement of working with a few nonprofits.

And as I sit here watching the weather reports track a huge storm system while trying to figure out what I should do in case of a tornado (my pets have decided to go with the “every man for himself” plan and dive under the bed), I am reminded that we’re all just a part of God’s greater plan. I think he has some good things in store for 2011.

I’m thankful that I’ll be sharing it with you.

My Year in Review