While most of us know of the event, we hardly know when it took place, who played or even who won (would you think less of me if I confess that I STILL don't know this at the time of writing this post?). What we do know that Janet Jackson had a famous wardrobe "malfunction" and the fact that the ads shown in the commercial breaks are really really really really REALLY expensive. How expensive, I hear you ask? In 1967 it was $42,500 and today the ad cost $2.6 million reaching nearly 78 million viewers. Note also that this cost does NOT include the production
This price is directly correlated to the original principles of "reach" and "awareness" and takes advertising and media planning back to its original roots – using the least amount of people, to reach the most amount of people in the least amount of time (and somehow using the most amount of money!).
When I was a student at university in Cape Town, I was so desperate to see the top ads at the Cannes Lions, I somehow located a copy of the showreel and managed to get an entire cinema packed with students to watch it with me. The advantage was that I was President of the U.C.T. Marketing Society, so I managed to get my hands on the valuable showreel. The disadvantage was that after I'd ushered everyone in, the only remaining seat was on the cold hard floor!
I found myself catching up on the ads on Rohit Bargava's "Influential Marketing" blog. I really admire him and learn a great deal from his posts. I recommend you read the post but if you're pressed for time, scroll down and check out the ads here.
My personal favourite is the Google ad – costing a mere $5 million and marking the company's first entry into mainstream advertising. I love the irony that such a a) strong brand and b) internet marketing/media company by simply having such an ad has said that it a) believes it needs to build brand and b) reach massive audience with loads of money. Nevertheless, the ad showed the power of original and traditional advertising by building brand awareness and favourability through storytelling. It stuck to Google's core brand and product value of simplicity, yet it delivered an emotive message which I could relate to.
For some reason, the online buzz didn't place it first, and favouring slapstick humour instead for the Dorito's ad. Perhaps this is because of a suspected larger male skew to the audience?
This is where my disappointment came in. I searched for the ad on YouTube and instead did NOT find the original in the top 5 hits!! Instead I found a parody of the ad. Was this their intention?? Why-oh-why is there only a sponsored link to DOWNLOAD CHROME instead of a link to the video? When I clicked on the 6th link, there is an error in the video as it was posted by someone else. What a missed opportunity in extending the long tail of this ad!
My second favourite is the Audi ad, using a lot of humour and simply entertaining in the same way advertising did back when I was a student. Am I going to buy that new Audi though? No?! In fact, after seeing the ad, I can't recall the model number. But more importantly, I'm not in the market for a new car. Targeting's a bitch, ain't it?
So here are the lessons I think we can learn:
- Brands still think they need to build awareness and favourability (or retain/reinforce brand values) through emotive or entertaining storytelling
- Brands still think they need to spend a lot of money to do this (do they?)
- Don't forget to monitor and influence social media channels as brands need acknowledge that these will be active in conversation and content creation (old marketing meets new marketing)
- Emotive storytelling is brilliant but is that the right relevant emotional hook your audience are looking for?
- The 30-second spot may be dying but it's not dead yet