Super Ads? Not so Much

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 02/08/2015

Frankly, I was underwhelmed by Super Bowl XLIV.

I watched from start to finish and was disappointed. It wasn't just that the Broncos weren't on the field. I was looking forward to the advertising.

Had orange and blue been prominent, had the commentators been discussing Manning's statistics or had there been instant replays of Von Miller's sacks, I wouldn't have felt so deflated. But with only the Seahawks and the Patriots on the field, I was rooting for the ads.

Each year professional pitch pundits predict which ads will be the most creative, the most shocking, the most inspiring and the most memorable. The buzz started early when public pressure put one ad out of the running even before it got to the Super Bowl. When a cute puppy commercial was shown in advance, public sentiment against it was so intense that GoDaddy pulled the plug. That fueled speculation that half-naked ladies would be back with GoDaddy. Does anyone remember who or what shilled for GoDaddy this year?

I used to be able to bribe my son to watch the big game with me by promising that the ads would be a hoot. This year when I invited my son to watch the Super Bowl commercials, he answered, “Why? I've already seen them.” That's true. To generate more exposure, many companies pre-released their ads.

Other sponsors backed off this year. Because of stratospheric production costs, they opted to air commercials they have been using during regular programming.

Consequently, viewers this year were left with feelings of “been there, seen that.” I admit that I enjoyed the Katie Couric - Bryant Gumble exchange about the Internet. And I loved the classic Budweiser Clydesdales rescuing their lost puppy. Other than that, I didn't see a lot to keep me in front of the television during breaks in football action.

Maybe Super Bowl advertising has peaked. Prior to social media, it was unusual to see Super Bowl-type ads run outside of the Super Bowl experience. Now it is commonplace. Funny ads run endlessly on YouTube and are shared daily with millions. Extravagant productions, celebrities and sex that pushes the envelope can be found selling on social media sites 24/7.

Advertising basics are constant across media – print, electronic and social. The basics are build awareness, create a sense of need or desire, develop ways to meet the needs or desires and provide fulfillment. The key to successful advertising lies in being creative with messaging, visuals and delivery.

At its best, advertising captures attention and imagination. It compels recipients to take action, to feel an attachment, to make some investment, to acquire whatever product or service is being promoted. Effective advertising makes recipients feel that without the product or service being promoted, they will be missing out on golden opportunities, that they won't have what's popular with others, that they will be stuck in a rut while everyone else is in the fast lane, that they won't be current and in the know.

Pundits are still assessing Super Bowl XLIV commercials – which were winners, which were losers, which plowed new ground, which were truly innovative, which lived up to pre-event hype. The final judgments will be made by viewers. They'll back their judgments by putting their dollars into the products or services promoted by the sponsors.

For sure, the Super Bowl remains a premier venue for reaching one of the biggest audiences in the world. The question is, what will be put in front of those audiences in future years?

I'm hoping for Broncos and a few Clydesdales next year.


Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.