Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No Shock and No Awe in Super Bowl 2012 Ads

C’Mon Now …..

“Super Bowl Ads yield no shock and little awe”

By J. Anthony Snorgrass, PhD

Ad Age depicted Super Bowl advertisers as ‘weak in the knees’ as they pre-released their spots and traded surprise and delight for social media buzz in the form of twitter mentions, YouTube streams, and Facebook likes. Is this really the new advertising metric? Old school marketers (and former Super Bowl ad icons) unveiled their spots during the game in the hope that they would be talked about not just post-game, but for weeks, months and years after – recall Apple’s 1984 ‘Think Different’, or ‘Mean Joe Green’ by Coke, Bud Light’s ‘What’s Up?’, the original Go Daddy ‘Senate Hearing’ or even the Old Spice guy ‘Look @ me’, just to mention a few. These ads had legs, a euphemism meaning they possessed the ability to endure over time and across varied executions and mediums.

This apparently isn’t important anymore as experiential marketing that focused upon a holistic experience has given way to more short-term payoffs of tweets, likes, and viral streams. The Internet has promulgated this hyper- present rule, where the prevalence of ‘we want it now’ thinking is only trumped by ‘we want it RIGHT now’…. and advertisers have given it to us!

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly understand and appreciate the power of “sex” as an appeal in advertising but these seldom have legs in the advertising sense of the word since it becomes increasingly difficult to ‘out sex’ the competition given FCC rules governing decency in as well as the availability of edge-of-porn offerings from the Internet.

It turns out that I initially lambasted the only ad that appears to have had any legs at all for being far too somber and a poor sequel to the energized Eminem ad created for last year’s Super bowl and far too anemic for a highly diverse Nielsen rated Super Bowl audience of over 113 million people. Yes, despite the resonance of Clint Eastwood’s voice over for the Chrysler ‘Half-time in America’ ad it is the one that appears to have life after the super bowl albeit it took the political sensitivities of the times to claim its legs and whip them into shape. The ad going against the grain of typical auto ads included no views of cars and Chrysler’s name wasn’t even mentioned until the very end, which lead to its lack of clarity and invited Carl Rove’s rant that Eastwood and Obama were working hand in hand.

Even more vitriol was beckoned from many Republicans as they accused the agency producing the ad – W+K ~Wieden+Kennedy, Clint Eastwood, and Chrysler for sending out a pro-Obama message in the two-minute Super Bowl ad. Clint Eastwood defended the Chrysler ad saying that it was intended to be apolitical.

The two-minute ad that by my estimates costs nearly 3 million dollars or $233,334 per second clearly made the case that the “bailout” intervention is what has saved the auto industry and poised America for a comeback.

Certainly the Obama team should reveal in this interpretation as many politicos are jokingly suggesting that his 2012 campaign slogan will be “Bin Laden is dead, and GM lives”! Tying Obama directly to this ad would represent subliminal advertising in its highest form, from my standpoint.

But tangentially, if you really dig deep and follow the money trail you’ll find that Obama did drive a 2005 Chrysler 300C prior to becoming President and it was recently placed for auction for over a million dollars – money certainly intended to fund his Super Pac. Reports are that it got no bids because it pulled to the left. I’m one who thinks we can use a lot more of that.

By Dr. J. Anthony Snorgrass, AICP

Associate Professor of Communication

Advertising, Branding & Strategic Media

School of Visual & Communication Arts

Avila University

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