Wow, $3 Million For Those Ads?

Great Super Bowl again this year (congrats GiantsSuper Bowl Ads) … but, ugh, what happened to the ads this year?   The general consensus seems to be that, as a whole, this was a very off year.

Many people look forward to the Super Bowl Sunday commercials as much as to the game itself because, over time, many of the commercials have slanted more and more towards entertainment than product/brand messages.  The 30ish time slots (at about $3 million apiece) have become part of our culture and many companies eagerly participate to reach, by far, the largest TV audience of the year.


Then Monday, we are back to our professional lives … where most of us don’t work in companies that can afford the cost of running these ads during the Super Bowl.


There is no sense getting into a review of the ads here as we can never be sure of a company’s intent.  But what we can be sure of, most of our ads (read: dollars!!) have to work harder for the dollar than these ads do.


Advertising is a risky proposition because we are putting ourselves out there to be interpreted however the viewer interprets us, in the context that they are viewing in.   As much as we try to control the message, how the message is received (if it is received at all) by people we don’t really know (no matter how much data we have on them) is still where SUCCESS is decided.   And, we are expending valuable resources to do it!


So, stay away from advertising?

No.


Communication (let’s call it “communication” rather than limiting it to “advertising”) is crucial to all businesses, whether for awareness, launches, image enhancement, pricing issues, correcting fallacies, calling people to action … whatever.  But we live in a world where we are hit with messages of all types all day long and thousands of messages that hit us subliminally that we don’t consciously process but hit our minds.  This is a lot of competition for attention!  (unlike the Super Bowl ads).


The Super Bowl ads have the benefit of being a big focus of the 4-hour game period and people WANT to pay attention to them (THAT, besides the audience size, offsets a large part of the $3 million expenditure), but most communication attempts don’t have anywhere near this participation intensity.


So, what do you do?

If you have something to say … or need to say, say it! If you don’t get it out there, how your brand is thought about and defined is left mostly to others.


Be clear in why you are doing it and what your goals are. This should be done before you have any concepts in mind … and your goals should be measurable so you know if your efforts have the intended effect and whether or not you should repeat them.


Decide on the communication vehicles and channels which best serve the message and get the most “bang for the buck.” Where you communicate, how it is delivered, what messaging vehicle you use can all have an effect on how the message is received.   Super Bowl commercials are not right for most businesses!


Reduce your risk. Two simple ways to reduce your risk are to:

  1. Get feedback by doing some research before you spend more money on sending or placing your communication.   This can often identify some “red flags” that you are too close to see yourself.
  2. Track your results.   If the communication is ongoing, this will allow you to understand how it is working along the way to alert you to changes you may have to make (e.g., Are they seeing it?  If so, are they paying attention/believing?  Are those seeing it buying, calling, or visiting at a higher rate than those who don’t see it?”).


All of this can be done much more quickly (and for less money) today with online focus groups and online surveys – even for ad testing.


Be prepared for the response.   Have the product ready, alert your supply chain, have people to answer calls, etc.   And either celebrate the success or figure out how to improve it the next time.


When all is said and done, make sure YOU spend wisely and let others buy Super Bowl time.

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