Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Will the Super Bowl Ad Bubble Ever Burst?

Setting This On Fire Is Wrong
Tonight, as I was watching basic cable in the background while filling the blog, I saw multiple ads that were on the Super Bowl telecast last night. Probably for .001% of the cost of last night's buy, too.

And I am struck, as I am every year, by the greatest lie that has ever been foisted on the American public...

That people should actually watch the game for the ads, because they cost so much money and are just so gosh-darn chuckle worthy.

When all they are, of course, is astoundingly overpriced, devoid of culpability, and the surest sign outside of an ice sculpture at a corporate event that a company is just taking money and setting it on fire.

I say this, by the way, as an advertising professional that has done campaigns for companies that have advertised on these insane buys.

I say this as someone who truly believes in advertising, who gives his whole head and heart to it whenever I get the opportunity, and who has, and will in the future, wake up in the middle of the night (or stay awake into those wee hours) in my Ahab-esque search for the best possible idea for a campaign.

The plain and simple fact is that advertising *does* work. It works as part of a cohesive program, as a short, polite and persistent program to speak to a unique selling proposition. It works when there is a marriage between offer and brand, where the targeting ensures that a relevant group of people are seeing the ad, and when there is a consistent message that reassures the prospect that a purchase solves a problem, and is not a mistake.

None of these things are accomplished by the act of spending four million just in placement fees for 30 seconds of the nation's time, where you wind up spending 20 to 25 seconds trying to make them laugh by any means, regardless of how far afield you might be from the brand or offer.

Each year, we are able to capture more and more data that speaks to the effectiveness of ads. Each year, we get closer to an actually culpable moment from that data. And each year, the cost for the 30 second spot rises, because the Super Bowl is the only show in America with nearly universal audience acceptance.

And because every year, despite experience and the obviousness of the lie, people watch the ads.

This can't continue, right?


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