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Were This Year's Super Bowl Ads a Waste of Money?
By: Alexander Villeneuve
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It all began during the pregame show, when I learned that Hyundai, an automobile brand strongly positioned as dependable and affordable because of its popular Assurance program, would truly prefer itself to be a Benz or a Beamer. Interestingly, I later learned that Mercedes-Benz prefers itself to be a Hyundai because it was promoting a "luxury" vehicle priced under $30,000. It's a strange strategy for a brand that not too long ago was the beneficiary of rival Cadillac severely damaging its own brand by introducing a very similarly priced Catera.

I also learned that Pepsi, which hasn't gained market share in the cola category despite introducing Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi One, Pepsi Blue, Pepsi XL, Pepsi Max, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Kona, Pepsi A.M., Pepsi Raw, Pepsi Natural, Pepsi Twist or Pepsi Throwback, is pretty confident that new Pepsi Next will finally put them over the top.

Similarly, I learned Budweiser is continuing its cannibalistic strategy this year as it introduced Budweiser Black Crown. The Black Crown variety joins Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Light Platinum, Bud Select, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Golden Wheat, Budweiser 66, Bud Select 55, Budweiser American Ale and a host of others on the Bud brand tree. Yet, as sales of the former King of Beers suggest, each variety is simply feeding off each other, as evidenced by a sales of Budweiser falling from a peak of 50 million barrels in 1988 (seven years after the introduction of Bud Light) to just under 18 million barrels in 2011 combined with a gradual decline in market share. 

Meanwhile, most brands used the Super Bowl as a really expensive attempt to measure a feel-good falsehood such as online engagement or awareness rather than a truer outcome like a sale. For instance, Coca-Cola and Oreo spent significant resources to prove very little as its ads were more intent on consumers interacting with their advertisement than building a compelling case for consumers to interact with their products.   

But even though Jeep and Audi made such a case to consumers, each was merely built upon soft attributes such as patriotism and boldness (described as bravery in the ad) respectively, which cannot truly be linked to either product. Even as beautiful and poetic as the Ram truck commercial is, the brand will simply never own or become synonymous with hard work. I believe the lack of emphasis on hard, tangible attributes by so-called marketers to be very disturbing.      

Thankfully, after watching nearly four hours of such marketing nonsense, late in the game, Tide delighted when it cleverly dramatized how it removes even the wildest stains from our clothes.

It's good to know the spoils of victory won't ruin our best shirt if spilled.



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About the Author

Alexander Villeneuve loves to hear from readers. It makes him feel important, so please contact him on Twitter or his blog.

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