Monday, February 6, 2017


The final numbers are in….. and ad-meter has spoken….

Final Score: NE 34 - Atl 28 – Ads 3 – Halftime Show -0

Accept it, we live in a hyper-commercialized society and its presence is most apparent in the media we consume.  But nowhere is this more evident that the Super Bowl that hypes everything about it – the pre-game, the game, the halftime show, the parties, the gambling and of course the commercials.  Super bowl 51 was to be another advertising bonanza featuring a diverse array of big name brands, trailers, and the always-expected risqué spots from advertising mavericks entering the foray for the first time or those returning to reclaim their glory.

Yes, the Super Bowl is the unicorn of broadcasting, the mecca for brands and the haven for ad-busters like myself.  Now keep in mind that I am a critic at heart, a sort of contrarian soul that finds solace in looking at how things should be or can be to make them better! But for the most part I found the commercials lacking in the very components that advertisers seek to achieve – capture attention, deliver a message, provide a call to action, and by all means leave the audience with some take away that connects the ads to what is intended to be sold or the overall brand theme!  By all means ads should be entertaining, --bring me some joy, push me to tears, make me laugh, get in my face, challenge my thinking, make me wonder…  for the most part this year’s ads did none of this.  They were vanilla, and in advertising that is not what you want.  Creatively ads should push the envelope, test technology, shock, infuriate, amaze, astound.  This set of ads failed on all counts.  In fact these were not only bland, but BORING.  Where were the sexual innuendos from the Go Daddy ads of the past; where was the political rancor of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair; where was the sophomoric but entertaining humor of the Doritos amateur spots; where was the pure joy of the Mean Joe Green Coca-Cola ad; the sentimentality of Budweiser’s Clydesdales or puppies; the mystery of the Darth Vader VW spots; the heart tugging storytelling Dad-ads of last year? … I know I’m forgetting many others that should bear mention but the point is that the Super Bowl ads have become far too PG and lost their edge.  Why?

Should we blame this on all the now necessary practice of pre-releasing on social media that seems to suck all the anticipation from the ads in their in-game airing; the over and misuse of celebrity cameos which confuses the messages or the subtle/overt censorship from Fox and the NFL that kept advertisers like GNC’s “Courage to Change” and 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins” off the air and forced them to the internet (BTW - To me even though the Super Bowl can be streamed on the Internet, airing an ad on the Internet is not considered a super bowl ad).  And even more important is that you never want to have to send your audience on a search across media to complete your story – it’s very risky.  It didn’t work for BMW in the year’s past although it seemed to work for 84 Lumber even though it did crash their website.

Even with the OT and the thrilling comeback victory by the Patriots, this Super bowl is not expected to eclipse the viewership of Super Bowl 50 but it did allow Fox to air four (4) additional commercials during the game.  What an opportunity lost for airing some great ads!!!

Ok , I guess I’ve got to make my picks so here they are:

1 – “It’s a 10” – it was unexpected, political, unique and relevant.

2 – “#WeAccept” – AirBNB – creative message pushes diversity and inclusion although the photo morphing was a bit hackneyed as it was previously used during the political ad avalanche.  And I’m waiting to see if they truly accept requests from all….  I’ve heard that there have been some problems.

3 – “Drive Progress” – Audi – strong message although I didn’t like the “maybe…” part.

4 – “Pee Wee” – Buick – just humorous and funny

5 – “Yearbooks” – Honda – nostalgia and I like the AR features.

That’s it for me… see al the ads and the national results here -

Oh yea, ….while we are at it, we need to also make the half time show Great Again too!  Gaga was flat and was no match for the fire brought by Janet and Justin (2004); Madonna (2012); Bruno (2014); Katy Perry, w/Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott (2015); Prince in the rain (2007), Beyoncé (2013 & 2016), or even MIA (2012)--- I expected more from Gaga!

The ticket to get in this year’s ad game cost just over $5 million per: 30 seconds to reach an audience of just under 115 million viewers.  The cost compares favorable with Super bowl 50, but is a far cry above the $37,500 paid for ads in the very first Super Bowl in 1966  Despite the costs and drops in the projected audience ratings by Nielsen, this year’s Super Bowl brought in over $509.6 million in ad revenue for Fox, a unit of 21st century Fox.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hey, Go Grab a six pack of America...
Budweiser goes all patriotic - Strategic genius or blunder?

Budweiser’s domestic sales are going through a rough patch. Its sales have declined for the past few quarters in a row, contributing to overall revenue declines for its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, per USA TODAY.
Since 2014, traditional beer sales for national brands like Budweiser and Coors have lost majority market share in the US to craft beers. Budweiser’s low price point is appealing, but its high calorie content makes it less palatable even to its lower-calorie counterpart, Bud Light.
AB InBev needed a spark that could increase sales—and, ideally, something that the company could build a content strategy around. As Budweiser has always done, it looked to its advertising department, and that brain-trust had another bold idea:
“Let’s just name the beer after America?”
When news of this rebrand came out in May, it whipped up a firestorm of reactions from all across the spectrum. Research shows the commentary on social media was primarily negative: Consumers saw the rebrand as a cheap bid for nostalgia, and an easy means of capitalizing on patriotic sentiments sure to be stoked by the Fourth of July season, this year’s Summer Olympics, and the ongoing election cycle.
It’s not by coincidence that Budweiser’s rebrand will run from June until Election Day next November. But even if the motivations are transparent, marketers shouldn’t dismiss the strategy as condescending or hack. Some of us may cringe, but Budweiser’s pivot away from negative attacks on craft beers is a smart one. The company struggled to convince consumers that Budweiser could compete on the merits of its quality and taste.
So instead, Budweiser has shined the spotlight on itself and changed the conversation, all while making a bold emotional play.
Budweiser Rebrand to America

A Home Run For Content

For many brands, a rebrand comes with significant risk. As Forbes points out, a study from Millward Brown last year found that changing a brand’s name can trigger a decline in sales by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent.
But some of those risks are associated with lost brand recognition. Through its “America” rebrand, Budweiser faces no such risk: It retains many recognizable branding components that make it such a strong global brand in the first place. But more importantly, its instant media coverage has spurred on incredible amounts of digital content, saturating the Web with articles, social media posts, and other forms of content that mention both “Budwesier” and “America” alongside one another.
According to Ad Age, AB InBev registered more than one billion earned impressions within 48 hours of announcing its rebrand. Those impressions cover both news reports and social media posts. Many brands risk losing some recognition and coverage when they change their name, but Budweiser’s gamble had the reverse effect: It became such a bold, noteworthy and polarizing move that nobody could help but chip in their opinion.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Where did all the Great Super Bowl Ads Go?

Super Bowl Ads, anything but..... in 2016!

Well I've already shared with many of you my utter disappointment with the entire crop of Super Bowl ads this year. No edge, no innuendo, no sizzle! and yes, a little too family centric ....Guess I expected more when companies pay upward of $5mil for :30seconds before an audience of 114 million viewers. So although I participated as as Ad Meter panelist again this year and posted my results religiously I decided that I'd better let the commercials marinade a bit before I weighed in on my real favorites. Strangely enough, after seeing them all in regular network programming only 4 resonate with me in this order 1) Doritos Ultrasound; 2) Jeep (probably because I've owned 4 of them); 3) Crest because of the water conservation and what's happening in Flint; and a distant 4) Mini-Cooper (just because of its message)- No Labels.  And what was up with all the intestinal ads, maybe the drug companies are really taking over after all.

Actually the intrigue surrounding Beyonce's halftime performance captured much more of my attention.  The idea that she was able to use the super bowl to debut her new song "Formation" was a stroke of genius.  It was a true artistic statement that I once attributed to super bowl ads of the past including Go Daddy's sexually scintillating caricatures; and the nostalgia of Budweiser, and the technology that used to be the province of Coca-Cola. Even if it was a tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Movement,  I really don't remember any Black Panthers in that attire!

Right on Sister!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Beast Mode" or "Least Mode"? - My Picks

Yes, the Super Bowl ads rule Social Media, too!  28 million tweets, 65 million FB posts, and 4 million hours watching youtube videos.  It's a new day, indeed. I mean #newdayinadvertising

Snorgrass’ Under-Achievers

1.    Toyota – “How Great I Am”  Comments: how could you waste a great speech by Ali and the imagery of Paralympic Amy Purdy? Waste their greatness on a not so great product, the Camry --- it’s just not believable! Poor match-making.

2.    Carnival Cruises – “Return to the Sea”  Comment: Here is another waste of a great JFK voice over.  JFK’s brand was sail boating not cruises.  I just don’t see him at Kennebunkport on a cruise ship – imagery just doesn’t fit!

3.    Always – “Like a Girl”  Comment: How could you ever have a ‘like a girl’ spot and not include Mo’ne Davis of Little League fame!  Major oversight!

Snorgrass’  Top 5 + 1

1.    Dodge –“ Wisdom” Comment: Listen and learn from your Elders!

2.    Mophie – “All Powerless” Comment:  Yes, it’s pretty daring to suggest that God could be an African American male!

3.    Weight Watchers – “All You Can Eat”  Comment: This one has a deeper message as it mocks the epitome of advertising’s impact on society and how it may negatively push consumerism as the ultimate tool of sustainable happiness!  More is not always best.

4.    Doritos – “Middle Seat”  Comment: Nothing like a Little Humor.

5.    Doritos – “When Pigs Fly”  Comment: Ditto.

6.    Fiat – “Blue Pill”  Comment: Humorous and it looks like Viagra got a free ride on this one! Co-branding at its best.

Snorgrass’ Honorable Mention

1 . KC Royals – “Forever Royal” by local KC firm Waltz Tetrick.  Comment: Well Done!  Love the AR!

Where's the Pump? - Super Bowl Ads Could Use a Bit More Air

As many pundits and fans remain surprised with the Seahawks end-of-game-play calling, I strongly believe that “surprise” remains a strong tenant of great Super Bowl advertising, and it at one time drove the very entertainment value associated with them.  Among my Super Bowl XLIX favorites was one full of surprise as the advertisement for Chevrolet’s Colorado ( actually and unabashedly simulated a signal loss early in the game to highlight the availability of LTE Wi-Fi in its Colorado model which would have provided an option to continue watching (via stream) the game had this catastrophe actually happened.  “I almost panicked” as I was also part of the USA Today Ad Meter team and was rating each ad as it aired in real-time, not to mention wanting to keep up with the game.

The only other surprises, from my perspective came from some of the first-timer ads like Loctite’s ‘Positive Feelings’ ( and Jublia’s ‘Tackle It’ ( ).  That’s a big risk for a glue company and a foot fungus company to even place ads in the Super Bowl!  No, I didn't like either of the commercials, but admire their bravery!

Interestingly many of this year’s commercials sought and actually garnered media attention well before they aired during the big game.  This strategy recognizes the changing nature of advertising as it shifts the focus from just TV to a multi-platform digital environment.  Advertisers like Budweiser, Fiat, Nissan, Microsoft, Doritos, Geiko, Game of War, T-Mobile, Mercedes, Sprint, and Coca-Cola all pre-released teasers or their ads weeks before to generate interest and conversation, or as we know it – free media.  Wondering how they did?  Visit the USA Today Ad Meter Results: ( ).  From my perspective, I had already grown tired of many of the pre-released ones especially Geico's "Push It" featuring Salt & Peppa.  Still like the song!

On the other hand, two companies used the ‘pre-release’ strategy as a premium.  GoDaddy’s “Journey Home” the story of a lost puppy who found it’s way home only to be readied for sale by a puppy mill was pre-released then after a barrage of media coverage pulled and replaced by a kinder gentler ad ( ).  The conspiracist in me sees a more sinister angle to this ad pull, as there was another commercial that also told the story of a ‘lost puppy returning home’. But the later one was from "a" or "the" most widely known and long-standing Super Bowl advertisers – Budweiser’s ‘Lost Dog’ ( ).  With Budweiser having had the #1 rated Ad Meter ad several times over the past ten years, I'm thinking NBC may have had a significant role in negotiating (leveraging) the change.

Similarly, Carl’s Jr. also pre-released an ad for its All Natural Burgers featuring Charlotte McKinney ‘Au Naturel’ ( ), who followed in the paths of Kate Upton, Paris Hilton, and Heidi Klum.  The ad did not run during the Super Bowl but certainly built a significant following via social and digital media.  The persistent media coverage and chatter on social media stoked the brand recognition of both the Go Daddy and Carl’s Jr. offerings.  My question though is what is the real difference between machine Zone's "Game of War" featuring Kate Hudson, Victoria Secret's "Let the Games Begin", Universal's "Fifty Shades of Grey", and Carl Jr,'s "Au Naturel"?

As Super Bowl games go, this one provided the perfect backdrop for advertisers, as the game was undecided until the very last seconds unlike in years past.  When advertisers are prepared to plunk down $4.5 million for :30 sec ($150,000/sec) they certainly want audiences to be tune-in for the full 4-hours and not distracted from a boring game.

The Super Bowl in actuality is an annual celebration for players, fans and advertising!  Accordingly, “Good Ads let the imagination fill in the blanks and build and build with anticipation.  Great ads also connect and engage with the audience at its level.  Advertising has become an integral part of this party and is often considered its soundtrack although that is more the province of the half-time show.  Which raises the question of why would albeit important, yet more somber “party-pooper/Downer” ads like that from Nationwide Insurance’s ‘Boy’ ( ) and to a lesser extent  No More’s "Listen" spot ( choose this occasion to educate the audience in this manner. While both ads are strong from a design and message/content standpoint and I fully understand how important it is to capture audience attention in delivering a message (be it educational or as a public service), I believe for ultimate success advertisers should always select content with decorum that befits the occasion or programming.   Possibly the sheer temptation of 10 million viewers was just too much to take a pass and go for a calculated risk. You’ve got to applaud the attempt.

One thing is for sure,  people do watch the Super Bowl which, signals that the ultimate winners may have been NBC and the NFL.  And this year the audience was record setting. TV brought this audience, so as long as it continues to deliver the future of advertising on television will live!  Next up for television - the Academy Awards, the Grammy’s, the NBA All-star Game, NCAA March Madness, and the NBA Championship Playoffs – may they fare as well?

Some New Moves for Super Bowl Advertising

Super Bowl Ads Highlight the Changing Nature of Advertising

“Teasers, Trailers, & Hash-tags,.... oh my”

These days, the real success of a Super Bowl ad is not just measured by how many people watch it during the game or like it in consumer polls, but how much it is shared in social media before, during, and after the game, says Dr. J. Anthony Snorgrass Professor of Advertising, Branding, & Strategic Media at Avila University’s School of Visual & Communication Arts.

Dr. Snorgrass (aka Dr. J.) along with Amy Winger, Chief Strategy Officer at VML; and Gavin Johnston, Group Planning Director, at InTouch Solutions; did some Monday-morning quarterbacking of their own when they gathered to discuss Sunday’s commercials and the changing role of TV in advertising on KCUR’s Central Standard segment on February 2, 2015. (

Snorgrass suggests that advertising has not changed at all, but possibly the tools of the trade have with all the advances in consumer-oriented technology.  To him, advertising has always sought ways to ultimately enter one’s psyche via one’s head (logic appeal); or through a direct strike to one’s heart (emotional appeal); or thru one’s pocket (investment).  In today’s digital environment there is an even stronger almost morph-like relationship between marketing, advertising, and branding across social, internet, mobile, and traditional mediums which creates even more opportunities for access to minds, hearts, pockets and souls.  In old school advertising the only metrics were views and impressions.  In today’s digital advertising the metrics still include views and impressions; but also mentions in news, posts, tweets, pins, snaps, shares, tags, check-ins, comments, links, gaming, and yes, even memes.   All of these serve to expand audiences for advertiser messages.

Johnston, Winger and Snorgrass’ discussion of the Super Bowl and the relevance of TV was well timed, needed, and wholesome fun. The takeaway? Consumption is changing. As advertising and technology continue to evolve, marketers need to adapt their messages and provide an integrated, multichannel approach to connect with them.