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Brady Irvine

Brady Irvine Marketing Guy

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Super Bowl Ads Are For Idiots...

(I apologize in advance for the rant that is about to take place…)

All of the discussion around the commercials that air during the biggest football game of the year is enough to make me wish I could turn into the Hulk and start smashing everything in sight.  Which one was the best?  Who missed the mark?  Are they just playing it safe?  Are they as creative as they used to be?  Is the insane cost of them worth it?  Grrr…


Now don’t get me wrong, I like to laugh and be entertained as much as the next guy.  (Probably more) So I am certainly not suggesting that if you are entertained by these commercials that you are an idiot.  I appreciate the creativity and the humor too.   My hatred stems from the idea that the buzz they generate is good marketing. 

As Kevin O’Leary is fond of saying on the Shark Tank (and the Dragons Den) “I mourn the good money that is being killed by this nonsense.”

“But everyone is talking about them…”

On the surface yes, it seems like a good thing to have tens of millions of people watching and discussing your commercial.  I get the thinking behind it.  The problem is they are discussing your commercial, not the benefits of your business, not your products, not your services. 

Legend has it that marketing super-genius Gary Halbert used to take the ads he was working on down to a local bar and read them to the patrons.  If they said “Hey, that’s a great ad…” he would throw it in the garbage.  If the response was “Where can I get that product?” he knew he had a winner.  What Gary knew, that these other people don’t get is that the ad is supposed to highlight the offer being made, not attract attention to itself.  It’s like the window of a store; the idea is to see the display inside, not the window itself.  If you are noticing the window it’s probably dirty. 

If everyone is talking about your commercial, guess what?


If there is an award to be won, it’s the agency that gets it.  We aren't trying to win advertising industry awards, we are trying to make money.

Then there is the cost of these things… $3,500,000 just for the air time?  Plus the cost of actually creating the ads?  Yes there is a huge audience seeing them, but how many of them are currently looking for your product or service?

Do you honestly think that Doritos is going to generate an extra 10 million in profits as a direct result of their advertising on Sunday?  Do you know how many chips that is?

Now that I’ve gotten this out and I’m starting to calm down, yes I understand that some of the discussion will help sell some products, (though I can almost guarantee that the ads aren’t profitable) and these big dumb companies can afford to throw the money away anyways… 

However it scares me to think that the rest of us with small and medium sized companies are going to see this hype and think blowing the marketing budget on big goofy ads that don’t sell anything is the way to go.

Please don’t be an idiot, stay away from the dark side.  Hold your advertising accountable and don’t spend money on things that don’t generate the desired result.  (More customers/money…)

Jim Bell
I see where you are coming from, but I look at it from another angle. Look at the Acura commercial. They had so much site traffic that the Acura website crashed as did the Fiat website. I guess it worked. Yes, most of those visitors can't afford a new NSX, but it created buzz. I know that our site had the most traffic on Sunday than we ever have before with the CR-V commercial hitting. When we came in on Monday morning, we had over 30 leads to respond to and we didn't spend a dime. It was all done by the manufacturer. Cheers to the 30 plus manufacturer commercials in that 6-10:30 time slots. They created the buzz and it worked.
Brady Irvine
I know. I was mostly just being grumpy because I'm tired of hearing about Super Bowl commercials. The back and forth between Ford and GM over the Chevy end of the world ad is getting lots of real information and discussion about the trucks out there too, but it's still annoying to listen to. The point I wanted to make with my tirade was that there are a lot more cost effective ways to get 30 leads than spending 3.5 Million on a flashy Super Bowl ad. Yes, I know it's the manufacturers' money and if every dealer gets 30 real, legit leads it starts making sense but like I said, I was grumpy.
Brady Irvine
Although grumpy or not, I still say there are cheaper ways to get better, more targeted leads than a big Super Bowl ad. And more often than just once per year...
Stephen Jackson
Brady, Most of these companies have been around longer than I've been alive, I can't help but trust that the huge expenditures that go into producing a Super Bowl ad is a very calculated and deliberate move. Surely Chevrolet doesn't just blow all that cash for the fun of it - they've collected mountains of market research that shows them exactly what works. Consumers today are extremely resistant to direct sales and mistrustful of explicit solicitation attempts. Remember BMWFilms from early last decade? The Belgian company spent millions to produce not ads, but actual MOVIES starring Clive Owen - which had almost nothing to do with the car itself. But it was an incredibly successful campaign that pushed BMW to the top of the luxury car segment. Worth it? I say yes. Hard to believe, but in today's marketing environment, pull will beat out push every time.
Brady Irvine
I understand what you are saying, but big companies make bonehead decisions too. (I work in a GM store, trust me you'd scratch your head at some of the ridiculous crap they do) Any time decisions are made by committee things slow down and there is potential for waste. (Government?) I totally agree with you about pull vs push marketing, but that doesn't mean that brand building or image advertising is better than direct response. Direct marketing can (and should) be effectively used to "pull" as well. The fact that it's commonly only used for push type marketing is another example of big companies making bad decisions. (Just because some salespeople suck doesn't mean you can't sell a car sitting across the desk from someone.) As for the BMW thing, I haven't seen the ads (or more importantly the numbers) so I can't really discuss them. Yes I love movies and being entertained, but that doesn't mean I would put my money on the line to advertise that way. Anyways, whether or not you agree with me I really appreciate the conversation. Thank you for your comment, and the chance to discuss this stuff.

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