Tuesday, February 8

Super Bowl #fail

I have a general rule for my blog that I always try to keep things positive. No one wants to hear me or anyone constantly gripe. Besides, I am trying to focus on the fun of marketing for all the reasons why I got into this crazy business to begin with.

But ... I would like to point out some of what I would call advertising misses from Super Bowl Sunday as a learning experience. Marketing is a spectator sport (as is football for most of us) and we can learn from each other ... good or bad.

Groupon. I had such high expectations for this brand. It is hot hot hot right now, gathering loyal consumers faster than Obama during the election. I really thought they would come out with a bang on their first big night, and they bombed. They completely misread cultural cues and ended up insulting folks in the process. Also a complete mis-use of celebrity. Now not everyone agrees with me on this one. There are many who say that they had a much higher order strategy and the mere fact that everyone is talking about the brand scores a win. My friend Nate Riggs is in that camp, and if you'd like you can read his very thoughtful analysis here. I am more in the camp that it was a distasteful joke gone awry.

Speaking of celebrity - Sketchers. Was the spot selling Kim Kardashian or shoes? If I had not heard the hype ahead of time, there is no way I'd even remember the brand name.

Best Buy. I had high hopes for Best Buy's Super Bowl debut. The brand got a lot of preview chatter in anticipation of Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osborne. But when I finally saw the spot, I was left scratching my head. The match up made no sense, and certainly did not create any more chatter post game. Gone and forgotten.

Cars. Way way way too many spots. Aside from the two standouts (by a long shot) VW and Chrysler, they were all the same. And boring - despite what looked like big production budgets. Although I did like the Chevy Truck spot that saves the little kid over and over again, ala Lassie. The more I watch that spot, the more I get it.

Bud and Pepsi. Too much of the same ole stuff - they all ran together. Nothing spoke to me as a consumer. All sizzle, no steak.

Doritos. I heard all this hype ahead of time about two gay themed ads but they never ran. Instead there were three spots that were created by fans that I don't think delivered much in the way of insight. Focused on taste for sure, but isn't that rather obvious for a food product?

The lesson learned? Same as on my post yesterday. Start with a core consumer insight and build a unique and relevant brand experience for your target audience. And then worry about the clever writing and the production values later. That part is easy if you crack the code on the genetics first.

For more discussion, visit brainzooming.com - Mike Brown was the host of #bzbowl where a bunch of us were tweeting live during the game. Great fun and great commentary.

Did I miss anything ... what's your experience? Jim.


  1. On Sunday I was about ready to give up on Groupon. The Tibet ad felt intentionally offensive, almost like a shock-tactic to get people talking about the brand, which seemed to work (even though it never trended on Twitter alongside other Superbowl ad brands). Strangely enough, the blatantly offensive series of Groupon ads is actually a silent front for their CSR campaign called 'Save the Money' in which Groupon users can donate to the various causes ridiculed in their celebrity endorsed videos. This is a VERY strange marketing strategy but definitely a unique one, and I say that despite being REALLY offended. You can check out all the ads here: http://bit.ly/g1M6Q5

  2. I know, this one is tough to call. Was Groupon so brilliant that many of us didn't get it. Was it really a call for philanthropy? Certainly can't debate the level of conversation that it generated.