It’s as Much a Goal as a Game — The Annual “Big Game” Ad Review

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

Hi Sports Blog Fans, time for the annual Sonnhalter Super Bowl, er I mean “Big Game” ad review. As with past years, it’s not on time or really about the ads, but rather the marketing lessons manufacturers can take from all the hoopla.

This year, let’s look at the three main types of ads, and the pros and cons of each.

1) The Big Build Up

This is the type of ad campaign where there’s a buildup, or teasers dropped across different channels that all build up to a big “event” ad during the game. This year’s best example is the Crocodile Dundee movie campaign that wasn’t. Instead it was all just a build up to a new campaign for Australian Tourism.

Pros – Gives your entire message a framework and direction. Sets the tone and content for everything to come for a good long while.

Cons – It works if you’re a country or a well-defined brand. If you don’t have a clear, concise message (or lots of beaches that aren’t going anywhere) and the intestinal fortitude to stick with it past the fourth quarter, you’re throwing away money.

2) The Big Splash

This is the type of ad that seeks to surprise, jar your expectations, or thumb its nose at traditions. It also only typically works during the game. It’s there to cause a splash and get attention right then and there.

For this example, let’s look at what I think was the worst example. For me that would be the Chris Pratt Michelob Ultra commercial. Sure, the setup is kind of funny, the famous actor thinks he’s landed the role of a lifetime in a beer commercial, only to find out he’s an extra. That part is fine, but the second set of ads, with him in the background, only works then and there. It’s a waste of time and money, kind of like telling the same joke twice.

Pros – If done right (like just about any movie ad, but especially The Cloverfield Paradox), it not only works to create buzz, but builds a cascade effect with retweets, shares and mentions.

Cons – If done wrong (I’m looking at you PuppyBabyMonkey), it just leaves people scratching their heads, and makes you look like you were trying too hard.

3) The Big Launch

Similar to #2, this ad type sets a new direction for a brand. This is a big giant “reset” button that seeks to make a splash, redefine who you are as a company and set the stage moving forward. In my opinion, the best example of this was the “It’s a Tide Ad” series. It’s funny, it’s interruptive, it’s designed to make people laugh. But it also serves to show the brand’s strength. By pointing out that in every other iconic commercial, the actors all wear spotlessly clean clothes, they show the importance of their product.

For a bad example, the less said about the tone-deaf Ram Truck commercial, the better. One other ad I found to be a lesson in not what to do was the Kia campaign. Bad CGI, poor use of a celebrity, and overreaching your brand identity don’t make for an effective ad, and now they’re stuck with an expensive launch that was largely overshadowed, if not outright ridiculed.

Pros – Sets up your brand message for years to come. Serves as a flag in the ground (or hammer in the screen).

Cons – Sets up your brand message for years to come. Serves as a flag in the ground (or a Platinum stake in the heart).

The Big Lesson for Manufacturers

Think of the Super Bowl as your biggest industry tradeshow. Each of these campaign styles is also an effective (or ineffective) trade show strategy.

  • The Big Build Up – Use preshow emails to preregister booth visits; just make sure you have a cohesive message.
  • The Big Splash – Host a preshow breakfast or a press event; but make sure to prequalify who’s there, have a concise presentation and follow up.
  • The Big Launch – Build a new booth and launch new products; but make sure the booth supports your message, the products serve a customer need and that those customers are there.

 

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