Three Terrible Trends with Super Bowl Commercials

It was a disappointment. Countless tweets and Facebook posts during and after the big game about how we wasted four hours of our time. I could have watched Sherlock instead.

While the game is often unpredictable, the one redeeming quality over the years has been the commercials. This year, they were also a flop. Recently, I only remember a few truly excellent examples of quality ads as I see a terrible trend happening in the marketing industry.

My personal favorite that I can remember is from VW.

Based upon what I have seen over the past three years, here are the alarming trends that I see:

Terrible Trend Number One – Commercials are not memorable

I honestly cannot remember more than three commercials from this year’s game. It’s been less than a week, and I think I remember one Budweiser commercial with a dog and a horse. Other than that, there was nothing that I will go online to see again. It was that weak.

The entire purpose of advertising and marketing on television is to be remembered so you can purchase the product or service later. If you can’t remember the brand, then it was all for naught.

Do you remember the commercials from last year? A good general rule of thumb on whether or not a commercial is memorable is if you can name three of them. Can you?

Terrible Trend Number Two – User Generated Content

Yes, user generated content is great. It taps into the creative minds of the masses in an attempt to reinforce your brand image. Unfortunately, you just spent $4 million of air time and then ran an amateur video to try to communicate to your customers.

That’s just terrible. The fact that an agency and a company approved this process is complete shenanigans.   Either the company is being cheap after writing a giant check for air time and getting the commercial via some contest for “free” or your marketing agency is just being lazy.

User generated content has its place. Online and organically, it shows how your brand has reached into the consumers’ minds and they want to become your brand ambassadors. Sometimes it goes viral – good for you. Companies and agencies should not take advantage of that loyalty and contrive it into a way to mail in your Super Bowl work.

Millions of people from all over the world watch the Super Bowl. Granted, not all of them get the same commercials, but the expectation is that it is a well produced, well thought out work of art.

Terrible Trend Number Three – Show the Damn Product

How many times did you see a commercial and you had no idea what it’s for until the last five seconds? They think they are creating a memorable experience to get you to watch the whole thing and not leave for more chips and queso. In my opinion, it’s just bad execution.

The audience is the hero of any marketing effort. Some of us have lost sight of that. I was once told that “form without function” is a meaningless piece of art. I’m starting to agree.

These are commercials, people. They are not short films to tell a story to win an award. What are you going to tell me about your product or brand that makes me buy you versus another brand?

I want to know your car gets 10 percent better gas mileage than the Audi. I want to know that beer tastes better than Budweiser or Sam Adams. I want to know your tax services are cheaper than H&R Block. I really don’t care that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays ping-pong with some stranger off the street.

Yes, yes, I know you can only show a bottle of beer so many times and that’s why they change the packaging every year. (That’s a completely different blog – lack of innovation from beer companies). It’s the job of marketing professionals to create that story and, right now, the storytelling sucks.


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