I am going to make this short and sweet (or snarky) because I know we have all just endured the longest power outage in NFL history. Which is a good place to start. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the Super Dome back office. As I noted on Twitter, I think that the Director of PR for New Orleans can pitch a new book tomorrow: PR When the Lights Go Out. I tweeted that chapter one would be about checking the power bill, but honestly, we all know that they never ran expected that scenario. We can assume they had a thorough inspection prior to the largest sporting event of the year and unfortunately someone may have simply under-estimated the heat that goes into making Beyonce look hot.

Let this serve as a reminder to event planners everywhere: Plan for the worst. If you have pyrotechnics launching ever three seconds, you better have a back up fuse or two (or back-up generator) in your bag.

Besides the jokes, I doubt very many spectators will harbor ill feelings, but it is unfortunate for New Orleans and the Superdome from a business standpoint, as the city hopes to capture the hosting privileges for 2018 to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the city. Luckily, no one panicked and all was well after the 34 minute delay, but for the management and the ground crew, I am sure the event felt like a disaster.

I just wish someone had pulled the plug on the bad commercials! Dudes choking on hot dogs; sheep eating Doritos; teenage mutant senior citizens running amok; Dafoe as the devil; Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen channeling Beavis and Butthead; and some hot chick kissing a toad. GoDaddy would have had better luck having her kiss Danica Patrick!

By the end of the first half, I was in double jeopardy – my team was behind and there was not one commercial that I had enjoyed. And then, as it often happens, Oprah saved everything. The Jeep commercial saluting our troops was sugary sentimental, but in the best way. Very few things make us cry these days and two minutes of Mama Earth telling us that “We are a nation that is home again” is just what we all needed. It re-framed the game after an hour of juvenile jokes and reminded us, for two minutes, why this great American event is even important.

Ads that seemed to get respect were the ones that pulled on our heart strings a little. Frankly, I think that is because consumers are tired of crap. We’re a smarter viewer and we don’t have time to waste on banal ad campaigns dreamed up by desperate creative teams in an effort to garner agency awards for unsuspecting, over-spending clients.

The ads that I (and many) favored certainly gave a little tug or touched a tender spot, but at least they didn’t leave us shaking our heads (Assy white guys faking Jamaican accents in a German car? What does that even mean!?!) Budweiser had an odd, but moving hit with their story of Clydesdale love. Deion Sanders was sweet in his humorous attempt to be drafted again as Leon Sandcastle. Ram’s pictorial feast featuring Paul Harvey was a pleasure, and so visually and emotionally stimulating, that I didn’t even mind the conservative tone. The parents who wished to avoid “the talk” with their young son created a sweet fantasy baby making world that was fun to watch. But of the dozens of ads, only a handful really hit a home run with viewers.

It’s as if the entire process of creating, managing and delivering the advertisements were dreamed up to purposely exclude actual target customers. The ads rarely had a marketing message and few offered any social media interaction. Only Coke and Pepsi attempted to move from television to internet and even the corporations with huge social media resources failed to offer up a URL, Hashtag or Twitter handle.

Samsung, which has vast social media experience, did not even have the presence of mind to create and manage the Mr. Sam Sung Twitter account. It appears some random person threw up the handle as the commercial aired. And why they were not encouraging customers to tweet with Mr. Sam Sung is beyond explanation. It’s as if they had no inkling that a zillion people would want to find Mr. Sam Sung after seeing the commercial. It’s like they purposely developed this ad when their PR team was gone all day at a social media conference.

My first response on Facebook was that “I think it says something  [in general] about advertising and specifically that this venue brings out the ridiculous and ineffective…in hopes that the client will be an internet sensation the next day.” There was literally zero attempt to practically connect consumers with a product or brand. I know we have come a long way baby, but we are not so sophisticated that we can actually stop selling our products.

I had lots of comments, post and retweets confirming my opinions, but I want to hear from you. What do you think? Was it a successful Brand Bowl or did relevant branding go down in defeat?

3 thoughts on “Super Bowl 47 Branding Post Game Review

  1. Wonderful post, Jules. Spot-on, as always. And not an edit in sight.

    What’s wearying is the incessant and oftentimes aimless bleating passing for advertising these days. I can’t say for certain who the majority of these ads were supposed to reach (excepting the trailer for Iron Man 3 which, considering the bang-up business Marvel Entertainment’s movie and toy divisions are doing these days, is everyone on the planet, I suppose). What I can say is your observation about the lack of social media savvy on parade during the SuperBowl was disheartening; can we still call it a Brand Bowl? These companies seem to have taken leave of their senses (and a coherent marketing and advertising strategy with a social media component) this go-round.

    Maybe you can speak to this in what I’m sure will be an enlightened and well-reasoned response, Jules, but I’m not sure how large companies can effectively broaden their brands’ reach without, if not a dedicated social media strategist, at least a marketing plan with an emphasis on the effective deployment of social media strategy and the resources necessary to make at least a token stab at a campaign incorporating Old and New Media.

    The heart-string tugging ads: these were designed to appeal to a sense of, what? Shared purpose? Family? An American ideal? Do enough people purchase vehicles out of a shared sense of community to warrant an ad designed entirely to evoke some combination of nostalgia and, I don’t know, a bygone sense of American exceptionalism? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

    I tend to disdain cute in my SuperBowl advertising (excepting the Star Wars-themed VW commercial from a few years ago, which still ranks as one of my favorites), but I think that’s a function of the fact that we do this kind of stuff in real life and I’m a little too analytical in that regard. I’d be interested to interview the execs who greenlit these ads and the ad agencies responsible for their eventual launch. Who were your target audiences? Your research dictated this was the best means through which to reach said audiences?

    This isn’t to say companies should leap whole hog into the social media fray without conducting their due diligence; some companies’ audiences aren’t amenable to ad and message placement on social media platforms (though I’d argue some of their audiences are savvy enough to warrant a social media test balloon, at a minimum). Still, the idea that a company can effectively market to a cross section of the buying public with no social media strategy seems misguided at best and self-destructive at worst.

    My favorite part of your post? “Assy white guys faking Jamaican accents in a German car? What does that even mean!?!” I mean, just the best.

  2. I am replying as a consumer, and as someone not working directly in the marketing/advert/PR field. For the most part, I found the commercials lacking in purpose – assuming the purpose of any TV commercial is to engage the consumer and entice them to buy.

    Were they entertaining? Yes, they were – though not every commercial entertained the entire audience. I was not amused by the godaddy.com one, as you might imagine – I’m beyond the “sex sells” in my sophistication of advertising influence. But I think advertisers and their agencies weren’t going for the hard sell, I think they were going for the entertainment factor, because these commercials have been a part of the entertainment of the evening for many years – ever since the short film by Apple in 1984.

    I certainly agree that many advertisers missed the boat by not linking to social media sites. And Samsung missed it by miles not linking a twitter account to their ad, like you mentioned. And who else missed it by not having live voting for favorite commercials? Certainly CBS.

    My favorite image from the whole gameday festivities? In a commercial, it would have to be the opening frames of the Budweiser commercial. But overall, it was Ravens DB brown making a “confetti” angel.

    1. Laura: You make several great points. Yes, the trend has always been for companies to provide an extremely entertaining ad that is specific to the Super Bowl. What you noted and is what surprised me is that while I expected silly or entertaining, these were flat out random or obnoxious. Lacking purpose for most and totally disconnected from the brand. My feeling (marketing hat on) is that brands cannot afford a several million dollar random ad. Funny? Yes. Silly? Yes. Totally unconnected form the customer or able to support the brand? No.

      I agree that sex sells, as does potty humor and teenage angst, but when I think of sex selling – it’s usually something sexy. Not something gross. Even if I think a bikini clad babe washing a car is sexist, I can at least acknowledge why a company would go for that approach. The ads that were supposed to be sexy just missed the boat, as you said.

      And then the lack of social connection is just mind boggling. I would have assumed that live voting or social engagement would have been common place.

      So, as I often do, I totally agree with your thoughts. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.


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