Monday, February 04, 2008

The SuperBowl Ads - The Sins of Our [Advertising] Fathers

OK. I'm not going to get into how bad every single SuperBowl ad was yesterday. Not a single ad made a point or gave me reason to separate myself from my money for any one of the advertisers who spent ridiculous amounts of money to get in front of me yesterday. Oh sure, I laughed at some, and groaned in pain at others. I empathized with the Budweiser commercials, appreciated Hyundai's Genesis ad and laughed at Bridgestone Tire's "oh nooooo" Mr. Bill Squirrels and friends - but that's not the point.

The point is this - THE SINS of our advertising fathers. How companies get so wrapped up in what they did before that they'll give us a sequel next time - like GoDaddy. And to believe someone has a job signing off checks on spending hundreds of thousands in production costs and millions to air ads that don't work. What do I mean by "don't work?" How do I define "don't work?" I mean, NOT ONE SINGLE AD I'VE SEEN IN YEARS has created the consumer habit and practice of getting me up off my dead ass to go separate myself from my money for any of the products I've seen advertised. And I'm not a particularly tough sell. It's just that advertising no longer 'perceptually' intriques people. Oh, I can like them. That's one definition of perceptual intrigue. But I don't act on them or their lack of 'call to action.' Just informing me with an entertaining ad won't cut the mustard or gut the fish. They don't ask me to get my hands dirty, make a decision or do something. For example, no ad agency looks at a stew and sells it as Chunky Soup "the soup you eat with a fork." They sell it as a stew, as did all Super Bowl ads yesterday. Lost are the Abstract Selling Dimensions that put your mind to work. Brands, advertisers and agencies have become like ten speed bikes - most having gears they've never used.

I knew the end had come long ago in advertising when Kraft market researchers looking at my positioning recommendations on key brands asked me to "take all the sell" out of the concepts 20 years ago when Philip Morris was revamping the company with me and Chairman Bob Morrison. What was left was a gelatinous blob of verbage that bore no interest. People who'd never sold anything other than their resume to a college recruiter became 'qualified' through the myth of their position to somehow now become the arbiter of what's sold to us. High impact concepts were consumer created, and exceeded all previous AC Nielsen BASES norms for intent to purchase with top two box intent to purchase scores well above 97%. What Kraft ended up with was business positioning concepts limping around the 2% ups and downs in America's birth rate. Madison Avenue and it's manufacturing clients have lost the killer instinct - what Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed would have called the eye of the tiger.

Too many damn 'don't say anything wrong to anyone liberals' have taken the punch out of a world where brands made a bigger impact being only some things to some people rather than trying to be all things to all people. Go Daddy's ad, for example, was just an example of sheer arrogance and how companies of like ilk end up producing ads that talk too themselves about themselves which is why the rest of us just don't get it. Are you paying attention GM? To be a brand you have to stand for something, and brands today are uncomfortable asking us to make that decision - which is also why so many people get divorced. It's easier. Which is why I'd rather fight than switch. [Get it? - or is this too lost in our politically correct and socially conscious memory?]

No comments: