The Super Bowl highlights one great promise in the world of marketing: that advertising can be a welcome experience.
I can't think of many other events for which the advertising is as much of a part of the experience as the event itself. For $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, advertising on the Super Bowl comes with big responsibility and big expectations. Consumers expect to be entertained; they don't want to face a hard sell during the most important football game of the year.
Most of us won't be in a position to buy a Super Bowl TV spot any time soon, but I think the Super Bowl holds some powerful lessons marketers can use in crafting their own marketing plan. For four hours Sunday night, we saw the polar opposition between brands that maximize their Super Bowl moment and those brands that should have never spent the money in the first place.
So how can you get it right? I'll share three ads I thought were winners, as well as the lessons each suggested to me.
1. GE Capital: Don't Be Boring
I know, I know: Some brands lend themselves to more excitement than others. (Beer is a bit easier to sell than health care manufacturing supplies.) Still, there is no excuse for making advertising boring. One good example was the GE Capital ad. They aimed to humanize the world of turbine manufacturing—not an easy thing to do. Be funny, intriguing, irreverent, passionate, bold—be anything but boring, no matter what your product offering is.
2. Chrysler: Talk With the Audience, Not at Them
If you run the same messaging in your advertising week after week, you're likely talking at consumers and not with them. Talking with consumers is a dynamic experience: Your messaging is meant to truly connect with a consumer, providing a solution to his or her problem. Look at Chrysler's Super Bowl spot featuring Clint Eastwood. The ad focused on a central theme surrounding the economic challenges we face: "It's halftime of the game and halftime in America."
Whether you liked it or not, the ad was clearly run in context with the audience, the programming and the moment. The automaker was trying to connect with the audience, not talk at them.
In a fragmented, on-demand media environment during an economy that has stripped disposable time and income from hard working folks, the days of speaking at consumers is now long gone.
3. GoDaddy: Create Dialogue, not Messages
Advertising should not be the beginning and end of the conversation. With the right dose of creativity and consumer incentives, the possibilities for extending the discussion through social media and other channels are endless.
Look at the GoDaddy ads, which have been a fundamental part of their marketing strategy over the years. Like it or not, the ads are all about creating dialogue that goes well beyond the commercial—and the company has been masterful at it.
Most advertisers who invested money to advertise during the Super Bowl worked hard to promote the conversation beyond the ad. There is no reason the rest of us shouldn't do the same. Extend the dialogue, increase engagement and drive significantly more efficiency in your advertising dollars.
I know that few of us have Clint Eastwood in our casting list—or GE's deep pockets, or a supermodel in our rolodex—and most of us will never run a Super Bowl ad. But the fundamentals of marketing hold true despite your budget. So before you run that next ad, ask yourself: Is this Super Bowl worthy?