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

Ad Bowl 2014 – Part II

As I mentioned in my post from yesterday, Debbie Laskey has once again partnered with me to review the ads of this most recent Super Bowl. I gave you my take. Below are Debbie’s thoughts, but first let me tell you a little about her.

Debbie-Laskey-MBA-for-siteDebbie is a 15-year marketing practitioner. She honed her skills while working in the high-tech industry and in the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France. Her expertise is varied but includes strategic planning, brand development, corporate communications, customer experiences, and social media marketing (which I think she excels at). She has been recognized as a “Woman Making a Difference” by the Los Angeles Business Journal . Since 2002, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition and has also been recognized as one of the “Top 100 Branding Experts” to follow on Twitter. Currently, Debbie is the director of marketing and communications for the Exceptional Children’s Foundation in Los Angeles, but also manages to provide strategic marketing direction for B2B/B2C/non-profit clients.

Ladies and gentlemen, Debbie Laskey…

Every winter, on one Sunday, every TV around the world tunes in for one super football game. But for those of us who live and breathe all things marketing, the final football showdown each season provides a different focus. That focus costs a pretty penny – or several million to be exact. The incredibly high-priced ads that grace the TV screen during the Super Bowl have become known as the Brand Bowl, and I’m thrilled to share a three-peat review of these ads with Julia Carcamo.

As a brand marketing professional, I recall many of the ads despite this year’s one-sided Game. What about you?

Here were my faves:
[1] MetLife featured the entire Peanuts gang with a preamble to the Game, and since the game took place at MetLife Stadium, this was a good intro to the Game.
[2] Budweiser’s puppy and Clydesdale with the hashtag #BestBuds: this ad was memorable and tugged at the heartstrings.
[3] Budweiser’s thanks for military service: this ad was memorable and reminiscent of Budweiser’s timeless post-911 ad.
[4] Doritos time machine ad was funny but would have been funnier if it had run after Radio Shack’s Back to the Eighties spot.
[5] TurboTax’s ad was amusing except for the fact that no one wants to think about filing tax returns the first week of February.

I appreciated the presence of more cause-related marketing ads, especially Microsoft’s #empowerment ad and Chevrolet’s cancer awareness ad.

However, one element was different for me this year. While watching the Game, instead of simply Tweeting once I saw the hashtags after each ad, I participated in a TweetChat with the hashtag #SBexp for “Super Bowl experience” hosted by Jim Joseph  of Cohn and Wolfe. Jim will host similar TweetChats during the upcoming Olympics with the hashtag #OlympicsExp.

Ad Bowl 2014 – Part II

AdBowl 2014

The Super Bowl has been played and once again Debbie Laskey has asked me to partner with her in her review of this year’s Super Bowl ads. We’ll be chatting later today to find out if we had the same thoughts, and I’ll share her review with you. In the meantime, here’s my take on yesterday.

I must say this year was a little disappointing. Gone are the days when massive production budgets and huge theatrical events were the commercials that we saw. Sure advertisers are still spending a lot of money to produce these ads, but for now, it looks like they’re a little less theatrical and I daresay a little less creative.

I heard a lot before the game about Ford shelling out the least amount they could to be a part of the game. That would be the spot right before the kickoff. Sorry Ford but your Fusion ad was not among my favorites.

Here are my favorites in order of appearance.

Kudos to Cheerios for remaining true to its brand and its respect for families of all kinds in spite of those with that would challenge them. Gracie is as charming as ever. Maybe she should have asked for a Clydesdale, too!

RadioShack came out of nowhere for me. I love this ad and so did a number of my friends. I love the way they called themselves out with a sense of humor. I knew exactly what they were talking about, and from what I read on Twitter, half of America did too. I can’t wait to see what they do with their brand, with their stores and with their business.

Another big surprise for me was Tim Tebow in the T-Mobile commercials. Having never been a big fan of his (actually not one at all), I have to say I’m kind of one now. He took a situation that has to be probably one of the most embarrassing in his career, and he really turned it to his advantage. Who knew not having a contract to be so liberating?

I like Volkswagen’s Wings ad. Sure, sales are slipping, but VW has a way of using comedy chops to illustrate the enthusiasm and longevity of its brand. It was funny.

Did Coca-Cola partner with Cheerios to make people realize America is still a melting pot of people? Two different products. Both a part of magical moments in our lives.

Although the boys of the Seahawks were pounding the football field and all around them, the girls of GoldieBlox showed everyone that girl power is pretty inspirational. Hey boys, are you jealous?

And while everyone was zigging with American pride Jaguar zagged with  a bit of English pride. These British villains sure make being bad look SO good.

Pepsi did I nice job of hyping halftime. Their “Souncheck” was a creative use of the New York City skyline.

I tried to not make it my favorite, but I just couldn’t help it! My winner was Budweiser’s “Puppy Love”. The spot had over 35 million views on YouTube before it even aired and ended the evening at the top of USA Today’s Ad Meter.

Finally, I have to give points to those advertisers that spent money to shine a light on a good cause: Bank of America for (red) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Chevy for World Cancer Day. I don’t think the commercials were the blockbusters we expect during Super Bowl, but did you expect to want to show your support for something other than a football team yesterday? I was among the many to download the US song “Invisible” and I’ll be making my profile purple tomorrow.

ADBOWL is a registered trademark of McKee Wallwork + Company. This post is not endorsed by McKee Wallwork + Company.

AdBowl 2014

Teasing the Big Game is No Longer About the Playoffs

In 2005, I had an ad running in the third quarter of the Super Bowl. We gathered our friends around the television to wait and watch. That is ancient history. Even up until 3 or 4 years ago, you still had to wait until the big game to see these ads, but today, advertisers are teasing and just downright revealing their Super Bowl creations before the game. Good idea? I think so.
Getting a commercial on the air for the Super Bowl could easily reach $5 Million. As an advertiser, you have to ask yourself, “Are you going to get a return on that investment?” While many say it’s not worth it, technology and social media gives marketers a way to stretch that budget like never before.
Some tracking sources are already pushing out data. Digimind is a social media monitoring platform, and based on their monitoring last week, they are already reporting a general positive sentiment of 87% for this year’s crop of ads.

As of Monday the 27th, 17 companies had already posted teaser spots on YouTube in addition to paying for promotions on the site. By the end of the week, almost every advertiser had released their actual ads. In fact Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” spot had over 32 Million views this morning. Compare that to last year’s Super Bowl viewership of about 108 Million. I’d take that before airtime, and don’t forget that these ads continue to be seen after the game.

“The Super Bowl ad contest, it turns out, is increasingly similar to a presidential campaign—it’s all about the crucial weeks of expensive and calculated preparation leading up to the big day. Last year viewers watched 265 million Super Bowl commercials on YouTube, about 2.6 times more than in 2012, according to Google. What’s more, almost one-third of those video clicks came before kickoff. ‘The scoreboard of the Super Bowl has become YouTube views,’ Lucas Watson, Google’s vice president of global brand solutions, said at a breakfast in Manhattan last week.”Bloomberg Businessweek, “How Google Gets Its Piece of the Super Bowl”

Stretching your creative over a variety of social channels is the only way to go if you want to build a story around your brand. This tactic is not just good for a big-budget ad. It can be useful for any campaign, especially if you’re working on a smaller budget. Take the content. Re-cut it to engage your employees first. Then start giving your customers bits and pieces to get excited about. By the time you roll out your new product or service you could have the next “Rocky” – a labor of love shot on less than a million dollars, this hit movie brought in over $225 Million and one three Oscars including “best picture”.

Blair Witch Project.

Napoleon Dynamite.

Slumdog Millionaire.

How will you stretch your next creative project?

Teasing the Big Game is No Longer About the Playoffs

Brands That Fascinated Me

The best part of having an agency is the opportunity to sit with the creatives and talk about brands and what fascinates them and me. I love seeing the nuances through someone else’s eyes. As we approach “Ad Bowl” (you know that long string of commercials with a little football played in between), I can’t help but look forward with anticipation and look back on the past year to see what surprised me. Interestingly, two of these brands piqued my curiosity at the beginning of the year and held on. All of the others developed as the year did.

I’ll start with the obvious. Miley Cyrus– no one can say she wasn’t disruptive. She broke through the clutter and controlled her conversation. Although I tend to lean more to the evolution approach, she had to tear her Hannah Montana image apart to emerge as the person she wants to be seen as. She has to be absolutely the best brand marketer I’ve seen in recent years.

Netflix – I wrote about this a few months ago. A few years ago, pundits were saying this company had really stepped in it and had no way of coming out clean, but today, Netflix has transformed itself into something relevant and important in people’s lives by reinventing itself into THE entertainment content provider.

Nike+ – The long-held position of personal achievement shifted to include a connection between users giving you the motivation go stay on track. So, even if you’re that runner on the lonely road a dawn, you’re never alone.

Major League Baseball – Not content to rest on the fact that baseball is American’s past time, MLB embraced technology to make your experience richer from the moment you step through the gates. Let’s face it, the games are a bit of a commodity. The schedule is long and you can see the game at little to no cost in a number of ways. It’s the experience that keeps fans going to the stadiums. Seems like the National Football League is going to follow suit.

Ron Burgundy – Yes, I’m talking about the fictitious character from the popular 2004 movie “Anchorman”. As funny as it was at the time, it was a gamble to release a sequel so many years later, but someone had the foresight to put Actor Will Ferrell’s Burgundy into today’s world. Did you see him host the news?

Square – Meeting the needs of the small business, they are a very agile company that is positioned for massive growth

Oreo – As a New Orleanian, I sat in horror as the power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Even in the dark, the brilliance of one little tweet showed through, and Oreo did not stop going. The sheer amount of creativity that came out of that group must be a result of a sugar high. Take a look at an Oreo holiday tradition. I’ll never look at holiday cookie exchange the same again.

Chobani – We all know location is everything, particularly in grocery stores where competition among SKUs is intense and where competition among me products can be downright deadly. By insisting on proper shelf placement and pricing itself a little higher than most, Chobani can be credited with popularizing Greek yogurt in the US. Independent thinking and commitment to a vision has made this independent company a big player among better recognized brands. After a PR disaster in early 2013, Chobani will be making its Super Bowl debut in 2014.

Chipotle – really showed marketers what it means to be brand storytellers in 2011 with its poignant telling of a farmer going back to the start. This year, they did it again with “The Scarecrow”, not only telling a great story but also developing a game which gave their message a longer shelf life.

Santa, yep, the fat guy in the red suit. Maybe it was watching a video of my nephew make a call to him one night leading up to Christmas. Maybe it’s the thought that we could all use a little magic sometimes. He continues to be relevant and has been a quick adopter of technology to spread his cheer. Quietroom realizes Santa is not going away. Check out the great brand book they created.

OK. This last one may be a little controversial, but as a lifelong Catholic, I have to pick the Catholic Church. The election of Pope Francis has breathed a new life and focus into the church. As a Catholic I am excited to see him open minds. As a marketer, I am excited to see what people will think of the church as he brings about a change in the mindset of many.

I hope you see some of these brands in a new light. What brands fascinate you?

Brands That Fascinated Me

Ad Bowl 2013

There are a number of reasons why this year’s big game was important to me. First and most important, there is the economic impact of the game on my hometown of New Orleans. Second is probably the opportunity to once again review the collection of ads in this year’s game with Debbie Laskey.

My winners are a mix of ads that moved me, ads that I felt were on brand strategy, ads that made me smile, ads that reminded me how much I miss New Orleans and the ads my fellow co-workers found to be the best. Here they go, in no particular order.

Taco Bell’s interpretation of “Cocoon” made me smile and it made an entire bar full of people stand up and cheer. For that I say, “Viva Young”

Hyundai’s ad “Stuck” speaks to me every single time I’ve been behind someone on the road leaving behind mementos of their time in front of me. I usually try to drop back a little further. Now I see there is another turbocharged option.

Hyundai scores again in this homage to “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off”. Who wouldn’t want to give their family an Epic Playdate?

Bravo Jared and bravo to Subway for delivering the point that always seems to be the downfall of the diet du jour….keeping it off. No flash. No sizzle. Just the heart of the message.

Was it a good commercial, or do I just love the vibe of New Orleans? Either way, I’m in for the Mercedes CLA Soul spot…so much so that I might even forgive the billboard across from Napoleon House.

It used to be that the first break was the marquee spot. Chrysler, however, has repositioned halftime as the “it” placement. Most purists would argue that they are forgoing a spotlight on their products. Some might say they are positioning themselves as the all-American option. Ford, anyone?

In a past life, I sold radio. That station featured a segment by Paul Harvey. Chrysler’s Dodge Ram salute to American Farmers was very moving to me.

My tear-jerker:

I’m not a St. Louisan, but the Budweiser Clydesdale spots have always been among my favorites. There is just something about them that makes me feel un-American if I don’t cry. This spot seemed to be a hit among most of the marketers I work with on a daily basis.

As the officials on the field say, “failed to convert”.

That penalty goes to Go Daddy (even though they did somewhat redeem themselves with   “Your Next Big Idea”

Go Daddy’s Perfect Match spot just made me feel a little dirty. Even if you’re not in the same room, the sound of that kissing is enough to just send shivers down my spine.  To quote one of the marketing directors I work with, “I don’t like the way they subjugate web developers.”

Also, missing the point was Toyota. I guess Kaley Cuoco is the latest hot property and I should be blown away with her part in this Rav4 commercial. I’m not. In fact I had the name of the car make and model wrong when I wrote this sentence. Sorry Toyota. I guess your wish wasn’t granted.

Honorable mention goes to Kia’s Space Babies. Babylandia looks so much more interesting than being slung in a sheet flying through the air on the beak of a stork!

Of course, this Super Bowl will go down in the record books for also creating the biggest delay of game thanks to a pesky power outage. Although media maven and social media expert alike is always touting extending your ad buys into social, Oreo and Tide were fast to  take advantage of the hiccup. Clever…timely…and absolutely on brand, they might be my winners for the night.

Twitter Oreo Super Bowl Blackout

Twitter Tide Super Bowl BlackoutThanks again for letting me share my thoughts on the ads we all seem to look forward to. I’ll be posting Debbie’s thoughts soon, but in the meantime let me know your winners and losers.

Ad Bowl 2013

My Favorite Christmas Commercials

I couple of weeks ago I read a Graham Robertson’s blog post entitled Some of the Best Christmas Ads I’ve Seen. It made me think about the commercials that I always remember. Interestingly enough, my favorite commercials aren’t a part of the big Ad Bowl that some people call Super Bowl (well, that is except for the ONE commercial I worked on that ran during the game, but that’s a whole other story).

To me, the commercials that run during the Christmas season are some of the best because they are part magic, touching on an emotion that can leave you teary eyed.

Remember that young man coming home to awaken his house to the smell of Folgers. There’s nothing better that being reunited with loved ones for Christmas. It’s possibly the best present ever.

Coca-Cola’s Christmas Hilltop Commercial

Of course, after seeing Norelco’s stop action commercial, I had to buy a new electric shaver for my dad, even though he already had a perfectly good shaver.

I had forgotten about this classic McDonald’s commercial. How great is it to give Santa the perfect gift?

And I just loved when the M&Ms came face to face with Santa. He DOES exist. I knew it!

Merry Christmas everyone! Make some great memories.

My Favorite Christmas Commercials