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.)

P&G Aimed For Efficiency, Not Free

In marketing circles last week there was a lot of buzz about the layoffs P&G had just announced. You can see for yourself in this Business Insider article what the root cause of the 1,600 pink slips was.

In a nutshell: Digital marketing. To be more specific: Social media.

My heart goes out to those who are now having to figure things out in this still-difficult job market. I also feel badly for those marketers who will mistake P&G’s decision as the proof they need to [continue to] refer to digital marketing–particularly of the Facebook variety–as being free. More efficient? Yes. Free? Far from it.

Marketing in a social environment like Facebook might not require all of the trappings that go along with owning a true piece of site real estate of your own–domain names, hosting, code, traditional search optimization, etc. Especially if you are trying to operate lean and mean–and if you don’t care about people finding you organically in the social network. But the effort it requires to keep a social stream in Facebook populated does not just come out of nowhere. It takes time, inspiration and people. And if you want to stand out from the standard network template–the way these five agency Facebook pages stood out for the team at DigiDay, for instance–rest assured you’re going to need to do some coding. Additional hidden cost with Facebook? They own you. Literally. With the price of free on Facebook comes the need to be flexible enough to react to format changes the Facebook team often pursues with little/no warning. The biggest price of all? The fact that you don’t own any of the data that comes along with your Facebook outpost.

So again, my condolences to the 1,600 at P&G who are no longer at P&G. But my condolences as well to any one who misreads the tea leaves and mistakes digital as being a purely dollar-saving component within their marketing toolkit.

A Different Kind of Risk with Celebrity Branding

It’s Bike Walk Week here in the Twin Cities, and with the Tour de France next month it was time to use a certain situation in the cycling world to springboard to a broader marketing discussion about use of celebrity endorsement.

Now, with the Tour right on the horizon we were sure to see an uptick in media coverage about Lance Armstrong and the on-going questions about doping: “Did he ride clean or did he dope?”

You may have seen, or at least heard fallout from, the 60 Minutes episode last month where the doping allegations were renewed. So much for having to wait until next month. Seeing as the latest wave of tit for tat has already launched a counter effort from the Armstrong camp, it’s possible the CBS news program discovery isn’t going to make a dent in the legacy of the cyclist after all. This MediaPost article tries to transcend the question of the man’s legacy and instead look at the impact of his situation on the Livestrong brand.

What’s interesting is that, despite all the attention Armstrong is again receiving in the press, the status of celebrities and brand sponsorships has not really been brought front and center. That surprises me in part because of how much of a focus the “celebrity as brand” issue came up during the Tiger Woods scandal.

I’m not a talent agent nor do I profess any deeper information or understanding of the above two sports celebrity cases. However I do have a few points worth considering if we segue the post and discussion over to the question of what a celebrity might bring a brand.

I recently worked on a campaign to promote a brand by way of a celebrity who was in a distinct fashion relevant to that brand. (Sorry, I’m not going to get in to specifics so as to retain client confidentiality.)

We featured the celebrity in broadcast communications and then worked with a partner agency to develop a pay-per-click campaign in Google search. What we learned was that the celebrity affiliation accounted for a predominant quantity of search traffic to our client’s website. However, after the celebrity buzz subsided, the non-celebrity search traffic began to take over.

Also, whether the celeb-driven traffic was high or not, those visitors seemed more interested in the celebrity than they did in the messages and products our client wanted to convey.

In summary, the celebrity can have a role to play in driving a brand’s site traffic. A sure win for short-term marketing efforts. However, since that same celebrity affiliation may not lead to more than site visits, marketers will want to think beyond the initial media buy for the longer-term brand impact.