Super Bowl is still king in advertising

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Well, the Super Bowl once again drew record viewers and reinforces the draw this one day event still has. This also will probably keep the prices high for ad time in next year’s Super Bowl. Here are my post-game thoughts about the ads.

Once again, Doritos leveraged crowd-sourcing to choose their spot from thousands of submissions. It’s interesting that most of the time, the winners of these commercial contests are won by industry advertising or marketing veterans. This one is courtesy of JR Burningham, a web designer. This brings up the point of are advertising agencies unnecessary? Some will say “yes” because of the successes in recent years of these contests that get the public to submit commercials for cheap or free. (Yes, this year’s Doritos entrant won $1 million, buy only after they fulfilled the contractual condition that it ranked among the top rated Super Bowl spots) My view, ad agencies are still necessary. They still bring deep understanding of true marketing and getting the results that matter, increasing the bottom line. Not just being liked and then forgotten. Also, it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars and almost a year to conduct these contests. Guess who is in charge to run them? The ad agency. They understand the big picture and know what the overall strategy goals are. This helps determine if the public submissions fall in line with the core brand message. Consumer generated ads are great to spike interest and to add variety, but no brand can live like that over the long-term because it gets too disjointed and key brand messages tend to get muddied and lost in translation.

Another favorite spot is from Volkswagon, Darth Vader. What this ad was able to accomplish was drawing an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand. Same goes for the Chrysler by Eminem. Both spots were able to evoke true emotion. This is what real branding is all about. Emotional connection is stronger than just being entertained. That’s why many people can tell you why a spot was funny, but forget who it’s for.

Many of the “most liked” spots shared another thing in common. They “leaked” and played their Super Bowl spots on the web days before the game. They created a grass roots following and buzz before the “big game”. By then, people had already pre-determined they loved the spots. Now, this can backfire if your spot sucks. If your commercial isn’t dead on, then all you’ll do is create a firestorm that will over shadow the big viewing during the Super Bowl.

One of the ones I didn’t like was for Groupon. Their spot just seemed odd for odd’s sake. There was no real discernible point. They also gotten some backlash from other Super Bowl ad review polls. The mistake Groupon made was they pretended they were an established brand, so they didn’t have to tell you what they were all about and why you should use them. Because they are still fairly new, they would have been better off explaining what they do and why you should care. Many dot coms seem arrogant thinking everyone already knows who they are and what they stand for. They are sadly mistaken and thus don’t take advantage of their marketing dollars spent. Then they blame it on the ad agency or because it’s traditional media, it didn’t work  and vow to never advertise again. That is backward minded and shows how inexperienced many of these young dot com leadership really is.

In the end, there were a few gems, but too many tried too hard to be something they aren’t. This makes the ones who actually connected emotionally with the audience, wins. Both in ratings and, most importantly, the bottom line.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.


  1. Women, Branding and The Super Bowl « Bebranded's Blog - February 17, 2011

    […] There’s exactly one- the Volkswagen Darth Vader commercial.   Tony Fannin thought it was one of the better commercials.  Yet  Bob Garfield at Ad Age questioned the effectiveness of the Volkswagen Darth Vader ad, […]

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