During the past few weeks the only things receiving more hype than the Super Bowl were the political debates and polls attempting to decipher who is likely to win each party’s nomination. With that in mind, we thought it would be fun for a few of my marketing colleagues, Debora Haskel and Mike Dietz, and me to discuss which Super Bowl commercials made the biggest impact and which fell flat. Unlike the politicians, we are largely unified in our views and will remain civil – no “artful smearing” at IWCO Direct!
1. What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial and why?
Debora Haskel: Once again, I’m a sucker for the dogs. The Heinz commercial was my favorite. I saw it a few times before the game and it made me smile each time. While I have tried to adopt a healthier diet, I still love hot dogs and indulge that passion occasionally. I have never understood putting ketchup on a hot dog and have always thought of Heinz as being the red condiment. The commercial actually opened my eyes to the extension of their brand. I’m also a sucker for Christopher Walken, so I also loved the Kia “beige sock” commercial. If the sock rang a cow bell, it would have beat out the Heinz commercial for me. The message was perfect – the Kia Optima is not your beige sock mid-size sedan. It has personality, and it’s fun to drive.
Mike Dietz: I also really enjoyed the Heinz commercial. In the age of CGI and super heroes it proved that a solid idea, executed well, can be effective. It also illustrates that you don’t have to blow the budget to get results. I would also put the NFL’s Super Bowl Baby in that category. They took a basic premise and made a simple, fun and entertaining spot.
Mike Ertel: We seem to have a clear winner! The Heinz Weiner Stampede was my favorite because it was simple, fun, and though predictable, you couldn’t wait for those dogs to reach their companions. The message was clear and relevant. The next time you’re enjoying a hot dog, Heinz has the perfect condiment. The agency that put this ad together didn’t chase the trend to be obscure or over the top, rather it was straight and to the point. The story line was enjoyable. It placed their product at the center of some really powerful images: summer, time with family (loved the kid dressed as a ketchup packet), loyalty of a pet, and the perfect backyard grill food. It provided product information (the types of condiments they sell, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce) and a recommended use. Short of where to buy the product (albeit obvious) or how to get more information, it accomplished a strategic goal – to inform consumers.
2. What was your least favorite commercial during the Super Bowl and in your opinion why did the game plan fail?
Debora Haskel: The Mountain Dew Puppymonkeybaby commercial was disturbing on so many levels. It did nothing to create product appeal or interest.
Mike Dietz: I really didn’t like the Hulk vs. Ant-Man commercial from Coke. It just seemed forced and unimaginative.
Mike Ertel: Puppymonkeybaby! The mythical creature was a distraction to the product and the brand. It was an obvious attempt at generating a buzz around something obscure. The message was the combination of three things that normally don’t go together (puppy, monkey and a baby). However, soda, juice and caffeine describe just about every energy drink on the market. Will I remember the image of the Puppymonkeybaby dancing on the coffee table? Unfortunately, yes. Will it motivate me to purchase their product? No.
3. Which commercial, if any, did a good job of cross-channel marketing by getting the viewer to respond via another channel?
Debora Haskel: If there was one, I missed it.
Mike Dietz: I didn’t see one either.
Mike Ertel: You could argue Apartments.com because the website address is inherent in its name. But I don’t recall one commercial that had a call-to-action or a driver to respond. Most, if not all, were brand marketing. Time to send in the direct mail team to get value out of those marketing dollars.
4. The cost for a 30-second commercial was reported to be as high as $5 million for the air time. While that’s a lot of eyeballs, brands run the risk of over-reaching by running ads that aren’t relevant to a lot of viewers. How could direct mail have been a better use of that spend?
Mike Ertel: My colleagues let me take this one…Although the number of impressions can’t be matched with $5 million in direct mail (you would likely get approximately 10 to 15 million impressions for direct mail compared to 112 million), television can’t match the ROMI of direct mail. That’s not to say brand marketing isn’t important. However, measurable response is the single most important element of any direct marketing effort. Television ads speak to the masses but lack a specific offer with a call-to-action tailored to the individual. Personally, I would put that $5 million dollars to better use. It’s important to also note that our $5 million for 10-15 million impressions includes creative development, modeling, and strategy. The $5 million for the Super Bowl was just the air-time alone. Imagine what these companies paid to create the television ads! Upon further review, that makes the ROMI of a direct mail campaign even more compelling.
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