The Blueliner Super Bowl Ad Awards: A Marketing Perspective
Advertisers spent $2.5 million for 30 second spots during this year's Super Bowl XL. Was it worth it? Well, let's reserve judgement on the million dollar question for the moment, but there is no arguing that this night truly is the super bowl of advertising, with over 130 million viewers tuning in across the world. ABC sold just over 60 prime time spots this year, totalling roughly $145 million in revenues. And while more people tuned in to watch the commercials than the game, how will that translate to the bottom line? As professional marketers, with countless years of experience in advertising, we put our minds together and came up with a different type of analysis this year - Super Bowl Ad Awards with a marketing perspective.
While everyone is caught up in polls of which ads were the funniest and most creative, which certainly is of value, our interest is in analyzing who spent their marketing dollars most wisely. In other words, who got the best ROI from their Super Bowl commercials? Naturally, this question cannot be answered fully right now, because the results come after the Super Bowl and even then, all of that data is not 100% transparent. The Blueliner Super Bowl Ad Awards signify which companies used their budgets wisely through strategies such as celebrity endorsements, calls to action, website URL placement and special effects. Through the Blueliner Marketing Blog, which you can access through this web page, we will track how the websites of the dotcom advertisers and traditional companies fair in the coming weeks, post-Super Bowl. Here are some predictions and opinions. We welcome yours in return.
Top Five Spots
These ads may not win every popularity contest, but in our eyes, from a marketing perspective, they were the most effective.
(#5) Most Heart-Warming Ad - Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty:
Some may think that this is not the ideal audience for such a touchy feely ad. With 130 million viewers, many of which watch the games in large family and group gatherings, it works. Using Cyndi Lauper's True Colors and an effective website call to action - campaignforrealbeauty.com - Dove, with the help of its agency Ogilvy and Mather, did it right.
This is not a one shot deal either. Dove has commissioned major studies and spent a lot of money to publicize the issues of low self-esteem in women. Getting people's attention and then sending them to a website seems to be a good formula, doesn't it? Good job Dove. We'll track the results to see if the mass audience tuned into the message, and contributed to the Dove Self-Esteem Fund, by getting to the site after the game.
(#4) Funniest Ad and Best Special Effects - Fedex Caveman:
This ad, developed by BBDO, was simply hilarious, true water cooler material for the week. A caveman is fired by his boss and stomped into the ground by a dinosaur after unsuccessfully trying to use a flying terydactyle to deliver a package. Call it karmic punishment for not using FedEx.
From a creative special effects standpoint, this may have been the best ad of the night. Driving home the message that you may get fired if you don't use FedEx in a comical way is subliminal suggestion at its best. DHL and UPS better come back with something quickly!
(#3) Best Story-Telling and Web Call to Action - Hummer's Little Monster:
This ad is purely genius! Modernista agency came up with the one minute spot, another $5 million spend, accounting for 5% of the $100 million that Hummer spends annually on ads. This commercial represents storytelling at its best. No words are spoken while music walks us through the love story between Jennifer and the Robot. A well-placed call to action sends us to hummer.com/monster following the only text on screen "It's a Little Monster", allowing the story to continue.
Going to the actual website brings us further into the land of make believe, with all kinds of information about Jennifer and how she met the robot, including their website - jenniferlovestherobot.com. Strange but effective in our eyes. Will it sell more Hummers? We're not sure, but this commercial should serve to keep the new H3 in the consciousness of those who are in the market for an SUV.
(#2) Best Tie-In to Post-Game Marketing - Burger King's Whopperettes:
This one minute spot cost Burger King $5 million, plus an extra $1 million to produce. By partnering with Sprint to show an extended version of the commercial on video cell phones, creating a special section on its website, posting up Whopperette posters in BK's 7,600 U.S. restaurants, and showing the commercials in movie theatres, Burger King is launching this Whopper-focused ad campaign in a powerful multi-channel strategy.
The ad itself is classy and sexy, a well-choreographed production modeled after MGM's 1930s musicals. "As much as people want to write the TV network obituaries, alternative media becomes a way of extending what is still the No. 1 form of viewership in the world," says Russ Klein, Burger King's top marketer. We say kudos to BK's ad agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, for creative planning and execution of an integrated campaign. Will this great creative sell more Whoppers? Time will tell.
(#1) Best Overall Ad - Toyota Camry Hybrid:
This spot, developed by Conill, Toyota's Hispanic ad agency, was so simple and effective. And isn't it about time that some Spanish words were used in a mainstream television ad? Jim Farley, Vice President of Marketing for Toyota, clearly understands his audience, noting that "one out of every four adults Hispanics watches the Super Bowl." He continues, "In the spot, a little boy makes the connection that the Camry Hybrid uses gas and electricity, much like his father switches back and forth between the two languages." We agree and think that this was done in a tactful way.
The ad does a wonderful job of cross-cultural marketing, with a positive family-oriented and environmentally conscious message. No wonder Toyota is #1 in the Hispanic market since 2004, with the Camry being the third best-selling car in that market. We believe that this commercial will help Toyota further entrench itself in America's fastest growing population. While Ford's Hybrid creative, with Kermit the Frog singing "It's not that easy being green" was also appealing and scored high, Toyota's ability to cover the multi-cultural and environmental issues simultaneously was simply brilliant. Lastly, what gives this spot the edge over Hummer and Burger King is that it did more with less. At 30 vs. 60 seconds, using two unknown actors and no special effects, it is our estimation that Toyota will get the most bang for its buck of all 30+ Super Bowl advertisers.
Best of the Web
As far as dotcom companies go, it's a far cry from 1999, but that doesn't mean that dotcom money isn't still good enough for prime time. Four Internet companies were featured during the Super Bowl - godaddy.com (2), Overstock.com, Careerbuilder.com (2) and E-trade. We will track all four websites to see which got the biggest boost from the spots.
(Tie #1) Careerbuilder.com -
The best of the bunch was Careerbuilder.com, going with its trademark theme, the monkey management team. Something about this campaign, by agency Cramer-Krasselt, just works. The office theme, with well-trained monkey actors pulling stunts like burning money and the token disgruntled employee, strikes a chord with the generally dissatisfied American workforce, always looking to break the corporate chains and move up in the world. Taking the theme online, Careerbuilder.com offers virtual games and tools, like Monkey Mail, where you can dress up a monkey and blast emails to your friends or fellow disgruntled co-workers. Nothing sells like the promise of a better career and life, and nobody does a better job of selling that opportunity than Careerbuilder.com.
(Tie #1) Godaddy.com -
Godaddy.com has received a lot of publicity for its racy ads, which it had to edit 14 times in order to be accepted for airing by ABC. Yeah, everyone agrees that the godaddy.com girl is hot, but can she really carry the brand? Godaddy.com CEO, Bob Parsons thinks so, and he may be right. While last year's spot was effective in putting godaddy.com on the map in an industry where margins are shrinking fast and users are becoming keen to comparative shopping, this year's spot, tie-in to the website and the PR that it generated, may have helped godaddy.com seize this opportunity to create separation and further establish their brand. This month's web stats will tell the tale, but there are bigger questions involved that deal with how the cost of two Super Bowl spots can be made up in a business with such thin margins. This spot features great calls to action, from the cleavage-busting t-shirt to several mentions and sign-off "More at godaddy.com". The site features all of the uncut versions of the commercial, a store full of promos featuring the godaddy girl, and a blog from the CEO. This is the closest thing to selling p-o@hr-n that can be seen on network TV advertising. Regardless of your personal opinion and moral values might be, when it comes to marketing and the bottom line, this campaign works.
More of the Same Award
The "Priceless" campaign is too easy to tune out. Every idea and creative concept has a shelf life, and we think that Mastercard's very successful, award-winning campaign has run its course. Guess someone at their ad agency or corporate headquarters doesn't agree. To each their own. It just seems that, no matter what new actors or concepts they bring to it, the spots just all come off the same after a while. During the Super Bowl, while the audience expects the WOW factor, this spot fell short.
Strong and Steady Award
It's hard to argue with Budweiser's Super Bowl strategy. Dominate! While Bud didn't do anything dramatic or over-the-top this year, it did not disappoint either. The best Bud Lite ad of the night was a tie between the roofers and the magic fridge. Budweiser's Streaker, Clydesdale and Wave commercials were all well done, although Streaker got the most laughs. These are worth seeing, and we are sure that all of us will see the ads again plenty during upcoming sports outings. It doesn't top the "Wazzzup" Budweiser ads from 2000, but it keeps the laughs rolling in for that ever so precious 18-34 beer-drinking demographic.
One to Grow On Award
Ameriquest had two witty ads by agency DDB Direct LA, featuring comic and embarrassing situations - one in an emergency room and the other on an airplane, followed by the punch line, "Don't Judge Too Quickly, We Won't". We got it, but only after checking out the ads for a second time. OK, so Ameriquest won't judge you by a low credit score, and you can still qualify for a mortgage. That's sharp, but maybe a bit too sharp to pick up right away. With its solid creative concepts, we believe that this one can grow on people if it's part of an over-arching marketing campaign. Perhaps they figured that people understand what we do by our name "Ameriquest Mortgage", and don't want to spend 30 seconds hearing about how to lower their interest rates. We buy that.
This year's Super Bowl featured a lot more movie advertising than the norm. We counted 10 movie spots. As things get more competitive at the box office, going for broke during seems to be the call this year. ABC also did a fantastic job promoting its own shows, most notably Desperate Housewives, LOST and Grey's Anatomy, using some excellent marketing tactics. Question: How do you get the 18-34 year-old population to feel like it's permissable to watch a show with a predominantly female audience like Desperate Housewives? Answer: Put a popular, macho NBA basketball mega-star, like Shaq, in the promo. Perfect, job well done ABC. For the Best Celebrity Endorsement Award, ABC & Shaq handly beat out Jessica Simpson & Pizza Hut (2nd Place), Puff Daddy & Diet Pepsi (3rd Place) and Leonard Nimoy and Aleve (4th Place).
Another noticeable trend is in how many times Super Bowl ads will get replayed this year. Ad replays will be at an all-time high this year, because of the higher percentage of people who have broadband connections, overall ease of Internet file-sharing, downloading and connectivity and greater online advertising for keywords linking to replays of Super Bowl ads. More people than ever will see these ads, whether or not they watched the game, which bodes well for the advertisers. Gotta squeeze everything you can out of a $2.5 million investment, right?
Check out all the Super Bowl commercials for yourself - http://sports.aol.com/nfl/superbowlads
To comment on the Blueliner Super Bowl Ad Awards, click here or email superbowlawards@bluelinerNY.com
Blueliner Executive Management Team
- Arman Rousta is Blueliner's Principal and Internet/New Media Expert
- David Houle is Blueliner's Chief Strategy Advisor and Advertising Industry Veteran
- Dali Singh is Blueliner's Managing Director and Media Maven