So I’m watching this video of Bob Garfield rating the Super Bowl ads. And, with all due respect to Mr. Garfield, I felt like I was watching a report from another place and time.
I’m not one of these “Super Bowl ads are a massive waste of money” people. Create something memorable, and it’s probably all worthwhile. There is something ineffable about the best TV advertising and I won’t argue with that.
But it seems like the Super Bowl ad discussion never evolves. Expert analysis of Super Bowl ads rests its case on questions of “Did I like it?”, it’s corollary, “Did it make me laugh,” and its other corollary, “Is it creative?”, whatever that means.
My take? Super Bowl ads aren’t movies. They’re tactics. If you want to rate them as movies, it’s your perogative, but don’t call them ads. We should ask how they fit into a marketing campaign. We should ask what the advertiser is trying to accomplish, and if their campaign is working. Is the campaign building, sustaining of changing brand identity? Is it driving sales? Web interactions? If the Super Bowl ad is being shoved out into the world in a vacuum — with no brand or strategy relation to the rest of marketing, it was probably a mistake.
At the end of the video, Bob Garfield laments that the “anti-creative” ad from Cash4Gold featuring Ed McMahon and Hammer (“I can get cash for gold for this gold medallion of me wearing a gold medallion!”) will likely deliver the most ROI of any ad aired last night and asks, “What is left, if not creativity?”
Well, take a look at Cash4Gold. You can call the ad tacky, but there’s no doubt that this business is in on the joke. Look at their site and there’s even less doubt that their Super Bowl ad sustains and builds its brand as part of a highly focused strategy.
As a marketer, you could do worse.