Remember when Superbowl ads were expansive, not just expensive?

It’s funny.

After the Superbowl ad extravaganza, you look at the TV the day after and we’re back to the same old crappy, patronizing, dreadful, fast-forward-able, TIVO-able ads that make one want to vomit: the evil pharmaceutical spots that offer relief to back pain, but at the cost of possible suicidal tendencies and loss of vision.

A couple of things occur to me:

1.     If it’s possible to produce funny, engaging ads for the a football game break, why can’t the advertisers, why DON’T the advertisers try to do that all the time?

2.     While advertisers spent upwards of $2MM per spot, many of those ads were not so expensive to produce. And while not all of them were good, the bar was set high, so the advertisers KNEW they had to be good, so they made them “good”. I wonder why they feel any less of a compulsion to make their ads engaging the other 364 days of the year? My guess? 1. They don’t feel they need to. 2. They are not truly connected to their customers. 3. They advertise in the Superbowl break for ego reasons, not business reasons.

3.     People like “funny.” May not always work (many of the ads are poorly branded or just plain odd. Hyundai, back off the smokin’, folks) but most of the ads bring a smile = we kinda warm to the brand = we might remember them next time we’re in the store/ shopping online.

4.     The key emotions one can evoke in a short TV ad (laugh, cry, shock & awe, engender respect, change the mind of the viewer etc) are tough to achieve. Being funny is easier and more instantly gratifying – but changing “someone’s mind” in a minute or so is tough.

5.     I really, really love the Chrysler ad.

A company I worked at, many years ago, called Collett, Dickenson, Pearce & Partners, got a brief from the Fiat car company to launch a new car. They had a total budget of around $3 million. For everything. Production, media, everything. Even at the time, that wasn’t a lot of money to launch a product. They decided that if they spread the money out over a couple of months, they’d only be able to buy 30 second spots and they’d struggle to reach all of the people they needed to, but more relevantly they wouldn’t impact enough people.

Impact is key.

Now the media men have taken over the world, CMO’s have become obsessed with “eye balls” and “frequency” and “reach”. All irrelevant folks. If you meet the wrong girl (or guy) it doesn’t matter how often you meet her (or him) or how long your talk with them, if the fireworks don’t go off with 3 seconds, nothing matters. It’s impact that counts.

So my old company decided to hire a Hollywood director, the great Hugh Hudson, to make a 2-minute (at that point un heard of) ad , spend every cent on production and one media spot – AND RUN IT ONCE. Once only. It ran prime time. Once. And yet pretty much every adult in the UK at that time claimed to see it.

It’s still awesome today.

Creative team: David Horry and Paul Weiland

Same deal with the Apple ad, 1984. Ran once, in the SuperBowl, and yet everyone thinks they saw it. (Of course most have seen it on YouTube.) Again, great ad. Again, LIMITED RESOURCES used to the max. Created by Steve Hayden, Brent Thomas and the legendary Lee Clow at Chiat Day, directed by ex-CDP man
Ridley Scott.

The lazy folks at Coke who produce well-produced warmed up schmaltz and the urgent folks at Pepsi who (while their product is inferior, to my palate) are a far smarter company with much more diverse products and develop new brands to bolster their empire, and the array of car companies (well done, Chevy, you’ve AT LAST woken up!) all make serious effort, but they’re all rolling in cash.

The folks to whom a SuperBowl spot is their one GOLDEN ARROW, their one “sniper shot” bullet, rather than simply the heavy artillery in a massive arsenal, those folks NEED their ad to be awesome. Everything matters.

And that’s why I think Chrysler deserve serious kudos.

A luxury car from Detroit? Looks like the start of Sopranos. Brilliantly written, seriously brilliant work. Beautifully shot. Masterfully scored. And perfect use of the most majestic man in the City: Eminem. I am truly blown away by this commercial. I think it’s a work of near genius. Hats off to everyone involved. But most of all to the client CMO, CEO and marketing folks who OK’d it and made it run. There are many critical eyes looking at them and this can’t have been an easy buy. Well done, folks, you’ll go down in advertising history.


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