Lessons from 37 Minutes of Super Bowl 2015 Ads

By Zachary Clark, Director of Business Development

Over 49 Million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl 2015, and this year’s cost to buy 30 seconds of ad time was more than $4 Million. After reviewing more than 37 minutes of advertisements (some of which include extended spots from companies), there are a few lessons that we can all learn.

It’s pretty safe to say that this year’s crop of ads wasn’t as strong as in years before. That doesn’t mean there weren’t still some good ones (I’m looking at you Loctite), but the overwhelming majority were extremely poor and left viewers wanting just so much more. Here’s why so many brands fell short of satisfying on the biggest stage:

Ads Are There to Sell

So much has been made over the past few years about the most over used buzzword of recent memory, “Content Marketing.” The idea that stories and entertainment plays better than straight up selling a product. And, in many cases it does. We’re a human race that doesn’t constantly want to be sold something, but put things into perspective. You’re going to spend over $4 Million on 30 seconds and only use 3 of those seconds to say something about your product or brand? Who ever thought that would be a good idea? 

(Full disclosure, I too have given into the content marketing hype machine.) 

Advertisements are there to sell things. Sell a product, service, brand, or an idea. Yes, you can use storytelling in your ads, the best ones do! But, please just sell something. Like Budweiser. They’re not selling you beer, they’re selling you friendship and sharing moments with the people around you. Their ad sold you that experience and used the power of the iconic Clydesdales to do so. But, then you have someone like Microsoft. They do some pretty touching stories on people who are making a difference and are inspirational, but where are the products? Some make a few cameos, but when your Surface is up against the iPad juggernaut, maybe you should have had those 49 million pairs of eyeballs take a look at one.

Too many of this year’s ads were overly wrapped up in trying to capture emotion and they lost sight of what advertising is truly there for: to sell.

How Off Brand is Too Off Brand?

Here is where companies may have fell off the most. Brands take years to build up an image that properly showcases “what you’re all about.” And, when people come to expect something from you, you can’t just go and be something completely different. Unless you’re trying to redefine who the brand “is,” stick with the image you have so audiences can have some consistency.

Take for example, Bud Light. They’re about fun, partying, and “being up for whatever.” That’s why a real-life Pac Man game was so perfect for them. It was actually fun, showcased being together at a big party, and had some semi-staged spontaneity to it. Then there’s GoDaddy. For the longest time Danicka Patrick has been their go-to girl, and I get that the original spot created was pulled, but a guy was literally sitting at a desk for 25 out of 30 seconds. The GoDaddy brand was synonymous for risqué and something that was going to be a bit out there, and that’s a majority of the reason people even talked about the brand in the first place. So, to go soft on America now was beyond off brand and extremely disappointing to see.

Ideas Are Clearly At a Premium

If this year wasn’t evident enough, being a true creative is really, really hard. So many of the ideas behind this year’s commercials were bland, overused, and blah worthy. There was potential, but most ads completely fell short of having a higher level of creative vision. It just goes to show that not everyone has the talent to write and produce magnificent spots that transcend audiences.

Brands and organizations should take note of those who do creative really well and give opportunities to the people within agencies and not the agencies themselves. Big name doesn’t always equal great work, but hard work and talent surely gives you a better a shot.

Until next year, advertisers.

Image courtesy of GoDaddy YouTube

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