The Brainzooming blog has a wonderful group of guest authors who regularly contribute their perspectives on strategy, creativity, and innovation. You can view guest author posts by clicking on the link below.
“I loved that ad with the little kids, you know, the one for . . ., Well I can’t remember who it’s for, but I loved it.”
We’ve all said those same words more or less. Most critiques of Super Bowl ads operate on that level. The ad someone “liked” or thought was the funniest is declared the best Super Bowl ad.
But that isn’t why advertisers buy Super Bowl time. They want to sell stuff, lots of stuff. To accomplish that, the message must be memorable. As Chip and Dan Heath write, it must be “Made to Stick.” So in generating ratings for the Brainzooming Super Bowl XLIV ad analysis, I was more systematic in assessing the best and worst Super Bowl ads using the six strategic characteristics Made to Stick says make for memorable messages.
From kickoff to final whistle there were 31 breaks containing 67 national commercials and at least one very memorable promo. I watched each ad only once—as it ran—and made my judgments as to whether each met the six criteria (yes/no only, no shades of gray here) in as close to real time as possible. I haven’t looked at any best and worst list other than Mike’s.
The runner-up is Google for Paris. I thought it hit on five of six. (Mike and I disagree here. Actually the next best ad was for The Late Show with Dave, Oprah, and Jay–but I think advertising is like therapy, it doesn’t count if you don’t pay.)
A full listing of all the ads with their Made to Stick criteria ratings and my pithy comments can be downloaded at the end of the post.
Using the same criteria, someone else might reach a different conclusion about most and least memorable, i.e. your mileage may very. But we should be able to agree that memorable communication counts for something in marketing.
Right now, we’re applying these principles for an event strategy project, designing an innovative positioning and strategy to create greater memorability and impact for attendees. What we’ve found at Brainzooming is beyond applying the “Made to Stick” criteria after the fact, the big opportunity is to innovatively use them in developing communications creative strategy. – Barrett Sydnor
Sunday night’s Super Bowl provided an incredible opportunity: getting a cool group of brand-savvy marketers from around the country together on Twitter to tweet about the best Super Bowl XLIV ads. As opposed to larger hashtag groups, the #BZBowl group was more intimate (with nearly 70 participants and no spammers). We had a lot of great IRL and online Brainzooming friends (both new and previous ones) navigating a few Twitter overloads and sharing more than 900 perspectives on Super Bowl ads throughout the game.
When you think through the “Made to Stick” criteria, the promo fully used 5 of the 6 proposed keys to memorability. It was:
Simple (little dialogue, one set, no computer graphics)
Unexpected (who’d have thought you’d get Leno and Letterman on the same set after the past month)
Credible (if Jay and Oprah will hang with Dave, why wouldn’t you?)
Emotional (with little dialogue, it was still one of the funniest ads as David Letterman imitated Jay Leno to his face)
Story-based (who doesn’t know the backstory so as to quickly put the setting into context)
The only key it didn’t use was Concrete, and that’s only because it didn’t scream, “Watch the Late Show!”
Just goes to show that a creative idea, some strategic risk taking (on multiple fronts), and implementing the SUCCESS formula can more than compensate for huge production budgets when it comes to memorability.
A few other quick impressions:
Certain “creative” (or maybe not so creative) themes emerged among ads (underwear, little people, surprise tackling, classical music). Many were easy to spot because of odd CBS scheduling which placed similar commercials back-to-back during certain breaks.
Super Bowl Advertisers (or their agencies) aren’t getting that traditional and social media should work together for maximum effectiveness. Pepsi went all social and suffered from no call-outs in the game. Few Super Bowl TV ads included social media angles (only Vizio had really blatant social media overtones), with the exception of a few, “go to the website to see more” mentions (Focus on the Family , GoDaddy, Doritos, HomeAway).
The Doritos open competition for ads seemed to work well for the brand, with some relatively strong creative in what many online felt was a lackluster Super Bowl advertising year.
For all the pre-game handwringing, the Focus on the Family ad was much ado about nothing. The ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother was very weak, irrespective of how you feel about the intended message.
The much-anticipated Google ad was interesting and distracting at the same time. It demanded attention to follow the integrated, text-based storyline in one pass (I admit it – it took me two viewings due to a poor attention span). The popular view is the Google ad signals its fear of Bing. My game time tweet was that in my previous job, I’d always tried to sell our e-commerce team on simplicity in web design. The rationale was that Amazon and Google didn’t have to invest dollars to get people to understand how to use them. So…did Google really need to run the ad?
There was nearly universal disdain, at least among the #BZBowl crew, for GoDaddy. My personal opinion is that Danica Patrick’s willingness to be in these BS ads signals how really bad the motorsports sponsorship market is. I feel sorry for very few athletes, but these ads continually put her into situations she should not have to be associated with.
Betty White (and Abe Vigoda) playing football for Snickers
The Doritos ad where the dog put its collar on its owner
The Bud Light ad with the house made out of full Bud Light cans
My sense from the chat on #BZBowl would be agreement with Snickers, but support for other Doritos ads as among the best. Forbes.com lists one of the E*Trade baby ads as number 1. I was less sold on the babies this year, but the campaign did yield a great new term, “Milkaholic.” Its other top 3 were Doritos (dog collar) and Denny’s (which should have come up with a special football promo name for its expensively-touted Grand Slam Breakfast).
As I mentioned, we’ll be updating our Brainzooming Super Bowl Analysis the next several days, sharing a strategic and innovation perspective on the Super Bowl marketing efforts. - Mike Brown
Check below for a live feed of all the tweets using our #BZBowl hashtag.
Log on to Twitter and tweet your observations about the ads. Just be sure to include #BZBowl in your tweet so it shows up below. For even broader visibility for your tweet, also include #SuperBowlAds in your tweet so those following that hashtag will see what you’re saying on #BZBowl.
During and after the game, we’ll provide updated commentary, ratings of ads using the SUCCESS criteria from “Made to Stick,” and videos of the best and worst Super Bowl advertisements. You can grab your own expected ad list and score sheet below.
While I leave many conferences feeling like, “Oh crap, I’m so far behind and won’t ever figure out the cool things other people are doing,” nothing could be further from the truth after yesterday’s conference.
Leaving Kansas City’s Uptown Theatre at day’s end after hearing Steve Crescenzo, Chris Brogan, and other great presenters, my brain was zooming with pages of ideas including some breakthrough ones which only seem to emerge during a highly-creative day removed from the regular routine.
Rather than writing presentation summaries, here’s a sampling of innovation instigators from throughout the day.
If you’re in B2B, continually watch the consumer world for ideas to co-opt. People make every B2B buying decision. Appeal to what motivates people as individuals, not as businesses. And people care about people, so put actual people with genuine stories in communications.
Great refresh of the tired old “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” quote from Steve Crescenzo: “Proceed until apprehended.”
If you’ve got customers who are spending time on social networks, then there’s got to be a customer service dimension to whatever your company’s considering in social media.
A pivotal mashup idea from the mouths of Steve Crescenzo and Chris Brogan: Communicators need to be talent scouts. That implies looking for people inside the company who are passionate and ooze the brand. These are your communicators in social media channels, regardless of what department they live and work in. Time-saving tip: when you start your talent hunt, begin in customer service.
Deliver people an artifact as quickly as you can, even if it’s a rough version of a concept. People unfamiliar with new concepts will say “no” until they’re presented with something tangible. That means you start big ideas before you get permission, and share tangible stuff before you get perfection.
Customers don’t give a crap about the mechanics of what you do. They’re interested in recommendations, and most importantly, the results. Go there first and fast!
Just like “-ista,” adding “-ati” to the end of a word makes it sound like a bigger, cool deal.
We’re putting together a great group of cool, brand-savvy people to tweet about Super Bowl XLIV ads and social media. Joining us is as easy as sharing your tweets during the game and including the #BZBowl hashtag!
According to attendees and event industry observers, we introduced more innovative social media experiences than even many tech-oriented events. This impact at the front end of producing event-based social media comes from the fact the activity merges several areas of expertise for Brainzooming, including:
Customer experience design
Based on first-hand experience, beyond creating a buzz or “newness” for an event, strategically incorporating event-based social media delivers a variety of real benefits:
We created additional layers of content beyond capturing speaker talking points. We produced additional commentary, links to relevant information, and video interviews, among other educational assets.
We extended the conference impact to audiences outside the event through conference websites and the liberal use of hashtags.
It’s possible to motivate favorable behaviors through incorporating promotional offers to drive trade show traffic.
It provides another way for attendees to become actively engaged in an event.
We gained an understanding of audience reactions to presenters on a real-time basis.
It’s a way to solicit and address on-site customer service issues.
Our efforts provided additional educational value by introducing a large percentage of attendees to social media applications.
The social media team’s presence prompted new interaction opportunities among those engaged in tweeting at each event.