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We’re nearing the end of the #BZBowl recap week of wonderful guest posts offering varied perspectives on lessons learned from 2011 Super Bowl ads. (I say the last, but I may still finish the post started in my sketchbook called, “Why Online Ads Are Killing Good Advertising.”) Beyond today’s post, you can listen to several of the #BZBowl bloggers on today’s “Smart Companies Radio” show on 1510 AM in Kansas City, live streaming at 10 am EST / 9 am EST on February 11. One of the bloggers on the radio show, Chris Reaburn, finishes out the week here on the Brainzooming blog. Chris is a services marketing expert and author of the Services Encounters Onstage blog. Chris took on the daunting task of experiencing as many brands as possible of those who bought Super Bowl ads this year to see how well the ads did at matching the experiences he sampled:


Chris Reaburn on Super Bowl AdsDuring last year’s #BZBowl Twitter chat on Super Bowl ads, participants structured comments around the SUCCES formula from Made To Stick by Chip & Dan Heath.  By those standards, for a message to be memorable, it should possess some combination of Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Storytelling elements. It’s a good formula for advertisers to follow and worked well as a tool to evaluate Super Bowl ads.

This year’s Chrysler 200 ad scored well measured against SUCCES criteria and has become a critical favorite. The Detroit story, well enough known and felt in lesser measures throughout the country, feels familiar and real. As a product of Detroit hardship, Eminem lent credibility.  Music, imagery and contrasts in the narrative lent high emotion to what was a good story, well told.

More than just good storytelling, good marketing also makes a promise that has value and ultimately sees it fulfilled through the customer’s experience.

The promise–fulfillment connection led me to experience as many Super Bowl-advertised products & services as possible in advance, including purchases or customer experiences with Teleflora, GoDaddy, cars.com, CarMax, HomeAway, Doritos, Pepsi Max, Coke, Bud Light, Volkswagen, and Best Buy.

Of the Super Bowl advertisers, which ones succeeded in making promises, fulfilling them and linking the experience back to the ads?

It was for this last reason that the Chrysler ad didn’t work for me.  It captivatingly reinforced the Detroit brand and the Eminem brand with a credible message.  But did little for the Chrysler brand, and less to make a promise about what prospective buyers of the 200 – a brand new product – might receive in return for investing themselves in it.

In terms of matching the SUCCES criteria with the ability to convey the promise and fulfill it experientially, the NFL was the best advertiser of the night. The use of both NFL films and classic TV footage wove the fabric of the game together with the fabric of American popular culture, giving it instant credibility and emotion. That we saw the ads during their capstone experience reinforced their story in a very concrete way.

You could say that it is unfair to compare the NFL with other advertisers.  After all, the viewing audience for the ads was almost completely within their target market, and they were viewing them during the event when these customers are showing the most emotional investment.  These were ready buyers of what the NFL has to sell.

But the lesson for others advertising in the Super Bowl (like chatter) is that finding the largest concentrations of your audience and engaging them with a relevant message at the time they are most emotionally involved in your experience isn’t playing with a stacked deck – it’s giving your marketing efforts the highest probability to succeed. – Chris Reaburn

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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4 Responses to “Super Bowl Ads – Do 30 Seconds of Super Bowl Advertising Match 30 Seconds of Brand Experience? – Guest Post by Chris Reaburn”

  1. Jim Joseph says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Advertiser of the night was indeed the NFL because they created a generic organization into a brand and then into a brand experience … directly for their consumers who were watching in the moment. Jim

  2. Jim Joseph says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Advertiser of the night was indeed the NFL because they created a generic organization into a brand and then into a brand experience … directly for their consumers who were watching in the moment. Jim

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