Super Bowl Advertising A Few Days Later

As proof of the power of the Long Tail, I offer up below a handful of superlatives from the national Super Bowl ad buy, all cataloged courtesy of YouTube.


Most On-Brief

***No, I haven’t seen the creative briefs. But seriously, these seem really on-message for what the briefs must have been.***

Smart usa – Offroading

T-Mobile – We Killed the Long-Term Contract

RadioShack – The Phone Call

Ford Fusion – Nearly Double (I disagree with their comment that the double-ad had never been done before. Roadblocks, anyone? Obama ’08 half-hour adfomercial, anyone? Still, it’s on-brief. And kind of odd. And I’m still thinking about it a few days later, so…)


Pluck Those Heart Strings

Hyundai Genesis – Dad’s Sixth Sense (Yes, this could have been in the on-brief bucket too.)

Duracell – Trust Your Power

Microsoft – Empowering


Just Plain Ol’ Fun

Doritos – Time Machine


And Some Questions

  1. What’s the deal with T-Mobile? One ad (above) in which they talk about saving $ by not going all big celebrity, and then they throw a bunch of Tebow ads at us (this and this)?

  2. The team at Carmichael Lynch Spong analyzed the game’s ad buzz before kickoff even occurred. Begs the questions: Does pregame buzz actually lift during game buzz? Does pregame buzz improve longevity of buzz after the game is over and the stadium lights shut down?

  3. Are ads running after halftime SOL in a blow-out match like the one we suffered through this year? (Especially when multichannel viewers have #manningface and all kinds of other memes—let alone better programs—to enjoy!)

Did any of this year’s spots beat out this beauty for Kia, circa 2012?

Dead Dinosaurs Are Amusing

Earlier this month I posted a short case study about how the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was changing its standard State Park product with newer activities and amenities up at the new Lake Vermillion property under construction.

Just last week the Star Tribune carried another great example of a brand that is changing up its offering in order to better attract and retain customers.

This time around, it’s an amusement park instead of a State Park. But what Valleyfair is doing with plans to introduce a dinosaur exhibit in Shakopee is no different, at its core, than what the DNR is doing up north.


Change Your Product, Grow Your Base


The vision for the Parks & Trails Division of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources “is to create unforgettable park, trail, and water recreation experiences that inspire people to pass along the love for the outdoors to the next generation.”

My anecdotal thoughts on this vision, taken only from my own [admittedly too brief] visits to Minnesota’s state parks is that the Division is doing well with the youngest families and also with the RVing set. Not, perhaps, as well among couples or families with older kids. Spend some time in a county or regional park in Minnesota–in a way these represent some of the DNR’s competition–and you’ll get a sense of what I mean. Especially when you consider the county and regional parks with brand new facilities and amenities, the state’s parks have some catching up to do.

Minnesota’s state parks are, basically, rustic ancestors for these more modern, playground-friendly and sanitized iterations. (Caveat: Catherine and I were married at Gale Woods Farm, a strong educational anchor to the counties’ Three Rivers Park District. We’ve been back countless times since our wedding because it’s an awesome park in another awesome park system. And yes, the unique “product” offerings at Gale Woods–hello, it’s a farm–certainly help.)

And that’s kind of the problem for the DNR: 75 state parks and recreation areas within a state filled with countless other options for those who are inclined to spend time outside. (We haven’t even talked about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the rest of the Superior National Forest or Voyageurs National Park!)

The DNR is working hard to counter the problem. Exhibit A: recent news about the development of a new state park being added to the DNR’s parks system: Lake Vermillion State Park. A DNR press release about the state’s newest park contained most of what I heard on the radio, plus a bit of history about the legislative proceedings that made it all possible in the last decade. Those aforementioned county and regional parks are about to get a run for their money:

  • It’s Minnesota’s first new state park in 30 years. That’s what we call a news hook in and of itself, on a few different levels.
  • It’s located in Ely’s backyard. There will no doubt be a halo effect attracting those already in and around Ely for recreation.
  • It’s being built with the very kinds of amenities adventure-seekers, well, seek. From children’s tree houses and an “adventure trail” with a ropes course to nearby Soudan Underground Mine State Park–this park is going to keep visitors engaged.

A classic example of how to win by changing your product. I can’t wait to add this park to the Mandle Family list of must-see must-do activities next summer!

(This post has been in draft mode for a while. This more recent Star Tribune article about Lake Vermillion State Park went even further with explanations about the adventure-based mindset driving this new park’s development. It also reminded me to finish this post up and push it live.)

Comprehending Foreign Design

A central tenet of marketing is to give your customer what he/she wants. If you were Steve Jobs, then oftentimes you gave them something they didn’t yet know they wanted, but I digress.

In Canada, where both English and French have been officially recognized as state languages since 1969, that means marketers need to service both English and French in their marketing materials.

When it comes to point-of-sale and product packaging, this means brand managers can choose to produce two completely different sets of materials–one for each of the geographies known to typically harbor English or French speakers.

But this can be expensive since it would mean production runs of lesser quantities per version. It also runs the risk of upsetting those transient speakers of the “other” [official] language who find themselves outside of their usual territory.

So brand managers have to account for both languages on singular pieces, particularly when it comes to product packaging.


Look at what this means for the tasty box of shredded wheat cereal we bought in Vancouver in an attempt to placate our kids with healthy snack bags.

The bilingual speaker–or monolingual, as the case may be–is able to read the important messaging the brand manager wanted to deliver. But what a lost opportunity for designers, and brands for that matter, who might have wanted to have a little fun with their packaging real estate.

The bilingual requirements aren’t always a matter of jam-packing or removing any and all creative opportunity. These milk cartons looked so delicious we bought two! 🙂


Nor is the excessive copy always of the sort some might consider frivolous brand-speak. Some shoppers might really need to know about the sugar content of their orange juice.


Still, I wonder if designers would find Canada’s attempt to overcome language barriers a form of creative barrier in and of itself. And is language comprehension more or less important than the hopefully-sales-driving inspiration presumably associated with the creative approach to that barrier?

Looking Beyond Super Bowl Advertising

One week ago today those of us in the advertising business were rapidly trying to keep tally of the marketing analyses coming out of Super Bowl Sunday. That and, after literally working through the night, catching up on sleep.

At Colle+McVoy, our third year of Super Bowl advertising research unearthed some similar social media findings as what we learned in our second year of looking at the meaning behind the data of Super Bowl chatter. For instance:

  • Pizza reigns supreme. More than wings, dips and other forms of sustenance.
  • You don’t necessarily have to advertise in the game to be mentioned or referenced during the game.
  • It isn’t always just about the ads.

After looking for some specific, deeper truths we were also able to say a few things in 2012 we simply didn’t know enough to ask of our analyses in 2011:

  • If the Papa John’s “Coin Toss Experience” is any indication, event marketing can be just as–if not more–impactful than running traditional advertising during the Super Bowl. The product placement helped the brand edge out Pizza Hut–which had purchased ad space during the pre-game show–by seven share points.
  • Ease trumps depth. Sure, you can say a lot more in a blog post, and back-and-forth discussion is more natural in a message board or forum. But when it comes to ease and immediacy, sporting enthusiasts run to Twitter. The microblog accounted for an estimated 97% of all content relevant for our Super Bowl queries. Blogs, forums and traditional news sites had equal share of the rest.
  • Given Twitter’s role, then, marketers will be intrigued (worried?) by a finding that might show how microblogging participants won’t necessarily adopt the hashtags set up as the “official” monikers for events or campaigns. No matter that #sb46 required fewer characters and was, therefore, the hashtag that made the most sense for Super Bowl tweets; fans this time around preferred the much longer options. Super Bowl Tags for Twitter
  • This is where we’d cue the expected comment referencing marketers’ concerns about lack of control in the social media space. It’s also, this time around, where I would air a theory that big game or event days might draw the novices out onto Twitter. (Just look at the character savings and hassle mitigation to be had with #sb46! Only a Twitter novice would miss that or simply not care, right?)
  • Along with the use of hashtags to promote [Twitter] campaigns during the game comes a broader finding that is perhaps more frustrating. Especially given the longevity of Super Bowl advertising now that all the spots are available for viewing on YouTube’s adblitz and elsewhere, the absence of digital or social references in the ads was shocking. We calculated less than three-quarters of spots included a site URL. Well less than a quarter included Twitter or Facebook. (While other sources cited digital and social integration rates much higher than what we found, I can’t help but look at methodologies as the cause of those differences. And anyway, inclusion of digital/social properties is different than truly connecting with audiences to do something there, as this great ReadWriteWeb post makes clear.)

Why not take a spin through the data on your own? There’s a lot to dig in to when it comes to SuperChatter. Perhaps you’ll see something in the numbers that begs of even further questioning when it comes to Super Bowl XLVII.