Super Bowl 46 commercials were lacking more than usual

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

6 February 2012

They just weren’t strategic

Well, so much for that. I’m not talking about the Super Bowl itself, which featured another thrilling finish for the New York Giants, but the highly publicized Super Bowl 46 commercials.

They were, for lack of better term, lame.

“But, I have to ask, what is the deal with the polar bears?”

As anybody who has read what we do at Stealing Share and how we think, you know we’re not interested in the entertainment value of the spots. (The Doritos ad with the Great Dane bribing his owner to keep quiet about the cat had the highest entertainment value, but it was a low bar set last night.)

What we’re interested in are the strategic spots intended to actually create preference. On that front, it was a very forgettable and ineffective group.

Super Bowl 46 commercialsThere were at least three mistakes made by the marketers, which unfortunately are all too common:

You don’t know who the ad is for. You know the Ferris Bueller take off with Matthew Broderick? A day after, do you know who that ad was for? I’d bet maybe 1 out of 10 would guess it was for Honda CRV. It is a common problem with today’s advertising in the rush to entertain audiences, leaving the brand to only take center stage at the very end. At least Doritos had the sense to put the brand in the front.

They all look alike. To create preference, you have to be different and better than your competition. Otherwise, you don’t present a true choice. The Super Bowl 46 commercials were dominated by car ads and you couldn’t differentiate many from the rest. There were attempts (see Bueller above and Audi tried the vampire thing). Basically, however, most looked and felt the same, just as they have for years. The only one that captured my attention was the Clint Eastwood one for Chrysler. But that one did leave me a little confused. We’re only at halftime?

Have a point. Many made no connection between the meaning of the story and the brand itself. One of the best brands in history is Coca-Cola and, usually, it stands apart from the antics of Pepsi (which trotted out Elton John for a limp attempt). But, I have to ask, what is the deal with the polar bears? At times, the spots were gorgeous to look at on a high-def TV, but I cannot ascertain what the polar bears have to do with the brand meanings of Coca-Cola (nostalgia, America, feeling good, authentic). If it’s really about “always cool,” then it should remember that Coors’ “cold” attempt has not increased its market share because “cold” is in the user’s hands. Not in the hands of the brand itself.

Overall, it was just disappointing. In fact, maybe it’s time not to get too hyped about Super Bowl commercials anymore. As I’ve said before, I think they are basically a waste of money for advertisers. They cost so much just in media time and do so little to create preferences that I usually recommend to clients to avoid it.

Even with that low bar, however, this was a disappointing attempt.

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