John Coleman, CEO of Portland, Maine-based VIA agency, has summed up why Super Bowl ads work or not in his blog today for Fast Company. Coleman says that good Super Bowl ads stand apart from the ordinary criteria we normally put against advertising, i.e. will the customer find a compelling reason to remember us at the time of purchase?
First off, Super Bowl ads aren’t technically advertising. The traditional role of advertising is “to advert,” i.e. to intrude upon someone’s intention with a message. With a 111 million attentive audience, many6 of whom prize watching the TV spots as much as the game, the ads aren’t intruding at all…unless they try to wham you over the head with a strong sales message. Coleman says that it’s like going to the game with your client: Have fun, talk about Manning’s incredible pass to Manningham or Brady’s almost “Hail Mary” or even Madonna’s half-time spectacular, but steer clear of business.
According to Coleman, whose company was Ad Age’s Number 1 Small Agency of 2011, “You’re not there to pitch your product, you are there to build a relationship. Your TV spot should be doing the same thing. Spots that focus on building deep brand endearment can use that equity and goodwill throughout out the year. It will make all of your subsequent selling moments more effective. People find ways to justify buying brands they like.” (Emphasis supplied)
This latter point underscores what we’ve been hearing in general lately from field like “behavioral economics” and “neuro-marketing.” The “reason why” approach to marketing communications, for better or worse, is being subsumed by emotions. The question then is not rational versus vs. emotional, but which emotional fields are brought into play. For example, in a Washington Post Poll, the Clint Eastwood Chrysler spot, which has been controversial to political and media pundits, nonetheless won over the hearts of eighty-eight (88) percent of the respondents.
Agency for the spot was Portland, OREGON Wieden + Kennedy, who also did the Polar Bear sports fan for Coca Cola.