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February 5, 2011
Super Bowl Ads: Why 2011 Won't Be Like 1984
 
Well, it’s that time of year again—the Super Bowl, where advertisers dole out the big bucks for 30 seconds of humongous exposure. I’ll watch the game. I’ll laugh at the ads. But come Monday, it’s back to reality.

Keeping it real—that’s what most of us do. We toil independently, slave away at an agency, or work in marketing for a company. Our reality is doing our jobs on a shoestring.

Even if we had $3 million to spend—the media cost of 30 seconds during the Super Bowl—I seriously doubt we’d spend it that way. You’re not alone. Absent from the Super Bowl ad lineup this year are spots from Dr. Pepper, Intel, Monster, and Papa John’s.

The simple truth is Super Bowl ads aren’t as effective as they used to be. To prove my point, let’s contrast 1984 with 2011. Watch Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl ad promoting the introduction of the Macintosh. It ran just once during the third quarter of the Super Bowl and it’s been celebrated ever since. It was radical, impactful, and every other superlative you can throw at it.

But now it’s 2011. I’m reminded of something Scott Monty, who heads up social media for Ford Motor Company, said in a webinar about the launch of the 2011 Ford Explorer: “By integrating our ad buy into our own content and into Facebook and using broadcast and PR, weaving it all together, we actually ended up with a one-day hit that got us greater exposure than a Super Bowl ad.”

This may explain why previous Super Bowl advertisers are taking a pass this year. They’re doing YouTube videos, creating buzz with contests, and cranking up social media.

And isn’t weaving it all together what we do every day? We send out press releases, update websites, blog, strategize product launches, crank out ads and direct mail, tweet, update Facebook and LinkedIn, and run Groupon coupons. It’s all free or low cost. Anything more expensive requires meetings and approvals.

How can you survive and thrive in this brave new world of marketing and advertising? Here are Og’s three tips:

Use Measurable Media
Agencies are building their reputations, not to mention client rosters, on generating measurable results. That comes from using measurable media and tactics like direct mail, email, QR codes, online display ads, and mobile banner ads. Measure what you do, succeed, and watch your budget grow.

Apply Direct Marketing to Social Media 
I know many people are sick and tired of social media. They don’t see the value in it. Where I see value is in marrying direct tactics to social media. For example, I noted a while back how Einstein Bagels generated thousands and thousands of Facebook likes by offering a printable free bagel coupon. For the cost of a bagel and a schmear, Einstein now messages to thousands and thousands of Facebook accounts anytime they want. Who needs traditional advertising?

We’re All  ‘Appy Together
Does it make sense to create a mobile app? Or maybe look into sponsoring one? Or print QR codes on your ads and direct mail? Or get into Foursquare? I was at my kid’s school function the other night and noted all the moms and dads using their mobile phones to take pictures and record the performances. Doesn’t anyone use a camera anymore? Mobile and tablets and applications that run on them are huge and getting bigger. You don’t have to play in this area but you might be missing out.

By all means, enjoy the Super Bowl and the super ads this Sunday. I know I will. But if you really want to make a big splash in our new world of marketing and advertising, look how you’re weaving together paid, owned, earned, and social media.   

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Mike Ogden is a digital/senior writer based in Kansas City. Ad agency stops have enabled him to create for major brands like American Century, Capital One, Sprint, and USAA. Seasoned and sharp with a touch of gray, Ogden, aka Og, is known for creating and championing ideas. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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