Team Detroit – ‘The Evolution of Super Bowl Advertising’

February 5, 2010

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ — In 1984, Apple launched the Macintosh computer with a Super Bowl ad. Based on George Orwell’s “1984,” one of the most influential books in western literature, the epic commercial ignited a revolution in the computer industry and transformed the Super Bowl into arguably the country’s most significant popular culture event.

Jump ahead 26 years. Much of this Sunday’s pre-game chatter surrounds Careerbuilder.com’s failed attempt to run an ad in which a man in an office cubicle ignites his own flatulence.

“That sort of outrageous spot may get some laughs at the office water cooler on Monday morning,” says Toby Barlow, chief creative officer for Team Detroit, a marketing and communications agency owned by WPP Corp. “But I don’t know if that is the best meter that should be used to measure advertising effectiveness.”

Barlow and Mike Bentley, Team Detroit’s chief strategy officer, both agree that the Super Bowl remains one of the most potent platforms for advertisers to initiate an exchange with their audience. But for that exchange to be effective, “for it to fundamentally change behavior,” says Barlow, it must extend well beyond 30 seconds of exposure on Super Bowl Sunday.

“The Super Bowl is an opportunity to tell the stories that drive people to some greater truth or idea,” says Barlow. “That Apple spot was the beginning of a great narrative – of a great company with great products – that endures to this day.”

Barlow points out some of the evolutionary milestones of Super Bowl advertising, from the explosion and subsequent public implosion of dot.com commercials in 1999 to the return to sincerity and patriotism after the terrorist attacks of 9-11 when Budweiser ran a Super Bowl ad with their iconic Clydesdale horses bowing down at the World Trade Center site.

The next chapter was consumer-generated content. In 2007, Doritos’ ran a consumer-generated ad,

“Live the Flavor,” which viewers rated as that year’s “most liked” Super Bowl ad, according to IAG Research.

“That, at least, was an interesting attempt to connect to something bigger. Today it seems like it’s only about outrageousness,” says Barlow. He points to GoDaddy’s titillating ads featuring Indy race car driver Danica Patrick.

“The Super Bowl is an enormous stage with an enormous audience and some companies are just using it as a technological stripper pole.”

While acknowledging GoDaddy’s growth in market share since they started airing their controversial spots in 2005, Barlow says, “They’re only following the original x model.”

Outpost.com was an online discount computer retailer that ran notorious ads in 1998 featuring gerbils shot from a cannon and sobbing nursery school kids getting their foreheads tattooed with Outpost.com’s logo.

“Go to Outpost’s web site now,” says Barlow. “It’s not there. They went out of business. So maybe, in the long run, merely being outrageous isn’t the brightest strategy.”

Bentley says smart companies have figured out they need to behave differently in their marketing efforts.

“You can’t run a lot of hard-hitting, information-based persuasion ads all year and then on Super Bowl Sunday try to entertain your audience with fun and emotionally engaging advertising. It’s like opening a restaurant and serving bland, healthy food 364 days a year and one day of the year serving food that tastes great and excites you.”

Effective marketing, Bentley says, has moved from a persuasion model to one of social influence.

“It used to be that advertising was ‘your salesman in print.’ People bought newspapers for the advertising, they wanted the communications from the advertiser. It was how they learned about products. Today, they actively avoid it. You can totally avoid an advertiser’s communications and still learn about the product through the Internet and social media.”

Great Super Bowl advertising, says Bentley, is not about moving consumers from un-persuaded to persuaded in 30 seconds.

“It’s about creating a halo of influence around that brand and establishing an ongoing dialogue with consumers that extends to the web and social media and the mobile phone and online gaming.”

Which is why so many Super Bowl commercials are now what Bentley refers to as subservient ads,

“where the purpose is to get you to do something else, typically on the web, where you can be more entertaining and emotionally engaging and you don’t have to necessarily conform to some of the social niceties that you do on TV.”

Let the evolution begin.


SOURCE Team Detroit

Source: newswire

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