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Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Super Bowl Special

Hype, honor, hope, humor, hypocrisy, hierarchy and ho hum

by on Feb.05, 2010

The clock is ticking down. This Sunday, February 7, at 6:00 PM, between 95 and 100 million people are predicted to turn to CBS to watch, nosh, wager, cheer, jeer, drink and honor America’s favorite sporting event: the annual extravaganza of Super Bowl 44 or as the NFL demands, Super Bowl XLIV.  Roman numerals are much classier, right?

But 51% of the viewers, according to new study from the Nielsen Results, (based on a sample of 25,000 households in the company’s Homescan panel), said they enjoy the commercials that run during the game more than the game itself.

Thus Sunday is more than just a football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. It is the new American institution known as the Cockamamie Commercials Competition or the Stupor Bowl of Advertising. Take your choice.

Some 36 different advertisers are joining the fray this year, but to us it’s all about the car commercials! This year five automotive advertisers are in one helluva money-spending battle not just to entertain us, but to achieve a lofty marketing goal. Well, at least some are.

Taking the digital in-game field will be Audi, Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai and Kia who will be spending millions despite the overall dismal results of 2009. There’s a non-discount rate of $3,000,000 for each :30-second commercial in XLIV.  The buy is scattered. Some brands have bought pre-game, half time, post game and promo positions at a lower, but still significant, rate. CBS isn’t cheap. The audience is huge.

Until recently advertisers kept their new commercials secret until the game itself.  I recall hiring a special company to videotape the entire game, and then edit it down to just the commercials, for Monday after during the game meeting with my former agency’s creative staff.  And it wasn’t cheap.  But the web, You Tube and technology has changed all that – only Chrysler has kept its commercial secret.

Here’s the line on who is doing what and whom should win the best automotive commercial(s) award as well as the odd, interesting and strange trivia and stats that have become part of the annual Sunday bash.

Hyundai is the odds on favorite

The not-so-little company that could and did shake up the automobile industry has scored big, not only with the award-winning Genesis sedan, and it unique assurance program, but by backing its superb spots with the voiceovers of Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges.

The question is: does quantity equate with quality?

In a phone interview with Joel Ewanick, Hyundai’s vice president of marketing, I learned the “watch out, here we come brand” is going to have eight, yes eight Super Bowl commercials. “Why the heavy lifting?” I asked.  Ewanick responded, “We are focusing this year’s Super Bowl campaign on the all-new 2011 Sonata, the most significant new model introduction in our history.”

In last years XLIII, Hyundai ran just two spots, so this year’s buy equals that of some really big advertisers in the fast food and beer categories.

I could provide a detailed description of each commercial, which seems rather stupid when you can watch them by clicking but I will provide a little info. Here’s the starting line-up for Hyundai’s strong campaign.

Here’s the pregame show  line-up:

In-game commercials  

Hyundai’s spots will run in “A” positions – aka, the best money can buy.

  • In-game number 1: (have still frame) Called “Paint,” this spot runs in the first quarter. Click here.
  • In-game number 2: Brett Favre’s latest retirement will appear in the second quarter. Click here.

Hyundai’s advertising game plan is simple: every commercial is aimed for the points that trigger a consumer’s reaction and a response. They have mixed humor, key features, new product, quality and 10-year warranty, which, I believe gives them the best of best in the automotive advertising category. Hyundai’s commercials are beautifully produced with meaningful content that treats the viewers with respect.

Audi’s Green Police
Two years ago it was a the Godfather homage, last year it was the Transporter honor, this year Audi is using humor – a very delicate, hard to define element — in its new Super Bowl commercial known as the Green Police.

Think of the many situations that could result from lack of attention to the need to protect the environment which has been Audi’s diesel theme in previous, non-humorous but well produced commercials … especially the rolling oil barrels last year.

The new commercial will run in the fourth quarter, but Audi has released a teaser edit which highlights the crucial role anteaters can play in keeping the planet green. Think Styrofoam. Click here.

Vegas view: Underdog. Humor is a very personal response and what’s funny about the environment?

Kia goes the humor route too.

The other Korean brand, Kia — has increased brand awareness with a series of a cute  commercials featuring furry little animals and the like for Forte.

Their new spots lets kids toys do all the talking and selling to pitch the new Sorento. The target? Young families.  Featured are “live” versions of kids’ stuffed animals, characters, robots and other formerly inanimate objects.

To see a sneak peak of the  new Kia Super Bowl commercial. Click here.
Vegas view: Had to tell from the teaser, but could be a cute and cuddly winner.

Chrysler … the only Detroit Brand in the big game

In more profitable times General Motors used the Super Bowl to sell Cadillac and Chevy. I don’t recall Ford running any spots, but that may be incorrect.

When Chrysler announced it was running a spot in the game of the year, strong sentiments were voiced by many asking, “Why?”  Since then little if anything has been in my email or emanated from the new Italian-run company about the commercial.

Vegas view: No news is no comment.

Volkswagen’s new agency’s first new spot is based on an old and odd game

There was a time when kids played a game called Slug Bug. The first person to see the VW bug could say “slug bug” and punch the shoulder of a nearby sibling or friend.

Moving to the adult world and the Super Bowl the first new ad from the new agency is called “Punch Dub” in which whoever sees a specific VW first gets to punch someone. Purpose? Supposedly to drive viewers to Facebook where they can play the new virtual version of the old game. Punching a friend over Facebook will qualify that person for a giveaway contest in which a new VW will be awarded.  Okay?! There was a strong web pre-game day viral effort too.

Vegas View: Is this the newest version of the flea flicker play? Who knows? Who cares?

Honda has high hopes for squirrelly commercial

The new Crosstour’s storage capacity is the focus of Honda’s Super Bowl commercial which airs during the fourth quarter.  Click here.

Vegas view: Cute animation tells effective story.

When should commercials run during the game?

Three words almost always guarantee success: early position, early position and early position.  And with 36 advertisers, eyes get weary.

Nielsen’s study noted, “Earlier really is better. Ads placed in the first quarter of the Super Bowl are better remembered and are better liked. There is a steep drop-off as the game progresses until the fourth quarter, when ad performance settles at a level that is closer to the average for all television ads.”

The study cited an issue known as ‘ad fatigue,’ which results, ““When viewers have difficulty maintaining a high level of focus for that many ads. It doesn’t matter if the game is a blowout or a nail-biter.”

The poll was one of many new findings Nielsen released in a comprehensive study of the trends and effectiveness of paid Super Bowl advertising. Other Super Bowl insights include:

  • Ads that run early in the game are better remembered and better liked than those airing later in the game.
  • A “winning” spot can vary depending on an advertiser’s goals and target demographics.
  • Traffic to advertiser websites spiked on the day after last year’s Super Bowl.
  • Motion Pictures form the biggest category of ad spending, which leads to an immediate surge in online buzz for the advertised films.

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One Response to “Marty’s Marketing Minutia – Super Bowl Special”

  1. Watt D Fark says:

    Frankly none of the car commercials were all that memorable. I smiled at the Green Police, but that to me was the epitome of mixed message: you’re commended for being green, but “greenness” is mocked as PC.

    Punchbuggy was a snooze, and the Crosstour animation was cool but cripes, buy a minivan if you need to haul a bunch of stuff. Crosstour still homely.

    Dodge commercial was a variant on the “men are oppressed by women, use this product to reassert your manliness” theme which is both offensive and tiresome–see also Bridgestone, Bud, et al.

    Hyundai/Kia were OK, but meh.