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Monday, February 16, 2015




Last week we shared Part-1 of our observations and learnings regarding advertising appearing during “Super” Super Bowl XLIX. This week we are bringing you Part-2, or the second-half of our game so to speak.


We refer to it as “Super” Super Bowl XLIX not just due to the excitement of the game (which was clinched in the last 26-seconds of regulation time on the 1-year line with a timely and spectacular interception) but also because of the super stats both on and off the field. According to Nielsen, a record 114.4-million people viewed the game, with another 1.3-million people who viewed it on computers and tablets. TV viewership climbed to 120-million in the last 10-minutes of the game. A 30-second spot aired during the game cost advertisers up to 4.5-million dollars. Gasp - that’s a whopping investment, particularly when you consider that this equates to $150,000 per second of airtime! There were a total of 96-ads from eighteen distinct industries ranging from automobiles to travel, racking-up big, big bucks for the hosting network NBC. For those of us marketers who kept our eyes, ears, minds and hearts open there was a lot of learning to be gleaned. Key learnings from Part-1 are:


1.     Television affords broad reach and should not be ignored

2.     Effectiveness is a better way to seek efficiency

3.     Strategy is a difference maker

4.     Coaching is more than commenting

5.     The purpose of advertising is to stimulate customer behavior


(If you missed Part-1 CLICK HERE to get the details of each of the learnings.)



Here is Part 2 of our observations and learnings:


6.  It’s important to be appropriate - Nationwide admitted that their 45-second spot “Boy,” where a kid who never grew up because he died as a result of an accident at home, was to raise awareness of child safety not sell insurance. (Revisit point #5.) While we believe that you can’t please everyone and bi-polarity is not necessarily a negative (since it reveals a passionate base of supporters), there’s a time and place for everything. This was not the place for “Boy.” We already suffer from anxiety about worldwide terrorism coming to our doorsteps, rising taxes, corporate reorganizations and resultant job loss, spread of Ebola, outbreak of measles and, yes, child safety. We were not receptive to the how or where the message was delivered. Additionally, we’re sensitive to those children who were among the 114.4-million viewers of the Super Bowl. There was no warning prior to the commercial that this dealt with sensitive material that was not appropriate for children. Nor did it consider the feelings of guilt it might raise among those parents whose children suffered an accident at home. “Boy” was the disruptive partygoer who came into your home uninvited and put a damper on things.



7.  Advertising needs to be emotive and relevant for prospective customers to feel the benefit – Emotive is not the same thing as being emotional. Emotive as it relates to advertising is about the use of stimulus to cause us to feel and realize the brand’s benefit. Emotion is about the context of the message itself. Emotive is other-directed (the impact on the receiver) whereas emotional is self-directed (the state and tonality of the advertiser). There were a number of highly emotional ads during the Super Bowl. That’s terrific in a way. It’s terrific that advertisers were able to get beyond strategy talk to express their emotional side. Dove Men’s + Care spot is an emotional tribute to Dads. “Boy” is a sober, mournful telling of a life not realized. P&G Always is a heartfelt exploration into sexism. In each of these cases it’s about them and how they feel about their subject, not their brand. Certainly we are likely to resonate with the emotion. But where’s the relevance to the benefit? Do I feel that Dove Men + Care will better care for my (a Dad and Grandfather) skin? Will “Boy” make me feel that Nationwide should be my insurance provider? Will P&G Always make me, as a woman, feel that I will have better protection and security that bolsters my self-esteem?  Doubtful. Highly doubtful. Consider the Coca-Cola spot where a Coke spills into a computer, transforming the spreading of hateful messages into sharing happiness, which is consistent with their “Share Happiness” campaign. It reminds us that sipping a Coke brings a smile to our lips, makes things and us feel a little better. It’s about being emotive in a relevant way. That’s a way to stimulating a behavior. Let’s take time to share a Coke. Let’s share happiness.


8.  “Likeability” means nothing if it does not translate to ringing the cash register – This, too, is related to point #5, “the purpose of advertising is to stimulate a behavior,” that we addressed in Part-1 and mentioned it earlier. Why are we addressing it again? Well we are coming at it from a different angle since talk among Super Bowl viewers, talk around the water cooler, articles in the popular press (and even some professional pubs) and post-game polls focus on, and refer to, “likeability,” as if this is really the key criterion in assessing advertising. What is even more concerning is that many client companies (and by the way we deal with Fortune Top 100 companies) that are supposed to be professional, and know better, use this as a primary criteria in judging their advertising. They believe “likability” is what they should be measuring to determine effectiveness. But there’s advertising that people claim to like that doesn’t do a damn thing to stimulate a behavior and ring the cash register. And, there’s also advertising that people claim to dislike, and may even hate, that works in driving sales. As much as we prefer to be liked, we really don’t care whether target-customers like our advertising as long as it is stimulating the behaviors we seek. (On the other hand we are not going out of our way to be disliked. See point #6.) Instead of focusing on “likability” address these four questions;

  • What is the benefit that is coming through in the advertising?
  • Is that relevant and important to you?
  • Is it different than the competition?
  • What is the likelihood of your purchasing, prescribing, using, etc. (as appropriate for you brand)?


The answers should be “yes” to all four questions. This is more important than “likability” since it deals with message registration, differentiation and, ultimately, “effectiveness” as relates to “ringing the cash register.”


9.  The “idea” is the “thing” – What “thing?” The thing that makes for effectiveness. The thing that enables target-customers to appreciate the benefit promise. The thing that triggers the desired customer behavior. The thing that enhances the productivity of your message. The thing that helps to generate a positive return on your investment in advertising.


The idea is the “thing.” There is the Campaign Idea and the Ad Idea. While there were a number of ads containing an Ad Idea there were only a few that were Campaign Ideas. A campaign is more than one in a row. Then there’s an Ad Idea, which is for a specific spot or print ad. Campaign Ideas provide a return over the long term, and help make your advertising far more productive. The Ad Idea is limited to the time it is being aired. Leadership advertising is built upon a compelling Campaign Idea with equally compelling, reinforcing Ad Ideas.


The purpose of the idea is to transform the strategic message into compelling customer language. It consists of the Naked Idea, what we call the creative concept, the core dramatization and key copy words. All three elements need to work together to deliver the benefit promise. If you do not have an idea then it is unlikely that your advertising will be effective.


The Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” is a Campaign Idea, and one of the few we found during the Super Bowl. Roughly stated the Naked Idea (i.e., Creative Concept) is to dramatize hungry people behaving out of character using celebrities to personify them who are inappropriate for the person and/or situation. The Core Dramatization is personification of a normal hungry person with a cantankerous (or otherwise inappropriate) celebrity portrayal, who is transformed back to the normal person after his/her hunger is satisfied by eating a Snickers. The Key Copy Words are “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry. Snickers Satisfies.” The Ad Idea aired during the Super Bowl, which is consistent with the Campaign Idea, is as follows: Naked Idea – Marsha, of the Brady Bunch, suffering from hunger, is personified by the actor Danny Trejo in his menacing, vindictive, angry role in “Machete”; Core Dramatization – Personified by Danny Trejo then transformed back to the gentle, lovely Marsha after she eats a Snickers’ Bar; Key Copy Words – You’re Not You When You’re Hungry. Snickers Satisfies.” The campaign debuted during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 with actress Betty White personifying the way a hungry guy plays touch football (hmm, like a prissy old lady?). This campaign reversed sales declines to achieve healthy growth levels far exceeding category growth.


The idea is the thing. If you don’t have it get it. Shoot for a Campaign Idea that, as the late, legendary adman David Ogilvy put it, should last for 30-years. If, as some of you have told us, you don’t do Campaign Ideas then make sure you have an Ad Idea.


10. Advertising is marketing and marketing is advertising – Well there are a couple of meanings inherent in the statement. First, if you haven’t noticed, advertising is still an important component of the marketing mix. It’s astonishing that some clients refuse to call it advertising, as if it were a disease, and choose the moniker “communications.” That’s because they don’t believe in advertising’s impact on sales. And, it’s thereby easier to slash the budget for advertising. Second, if you’re not advertising your brand presence is diminished and, as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Don’t condemn or banish advertising just because it doesn’t work for you. Learn how to make it work effectively to make your marketing more productive.


Also, we can learn or reinforce learning about marketing by viewing what’s going on in advertising. Here are some additional thoughts:


  • Address customers as real people - The Esurance “Breaking Bad” spot should remind us marketers that customers are real people, not merely a set of demographics and statistics. We need to get beyond the data to really know our customers. How well should we know them? As Esurance makes clear in the spot, “sorta you is not you.” We should know our customers so well that we can predict how they will respond to stimulus and only share stimuli that we know will achieve specific behavior objectives. By the way, everything we share with customer in marketing is stimulus!
  • Perceptions are reality – Chevy Colorado, Motor Trend’s 2015 Truck of the Year, shares two photos with “real people” (not actors) of the same guy in the same location and in the same pose, with the only difference being the vehicle in the background (a truck in one, a car in the other), to determine how they feel about each guy. The results are clear. Trucks can make people feel different about the guy. And, we feel confident the vehicle (in this case the truck) can make or reinforce how the guy feels about himself. Note to self: perceptions are reality and we build brands around the perceptions we create, not the facts and figures. By the way, who doesn’t want to be the guy girls want to run off with?
  • Oppositioning can be a powerful approach – Hey, politicians do it all the time. “Oh, Mr. Romney is a good guy and family man but he’s very wealthy and wants to give tax breaks to people like him, the wealthy.” In other words, he is not for the middle class and suggesting such positioned President Obama as a champion for the middle class. Budweiser, “Brewed the Hard Way,” took on the micro brews with a “macro” brew boldness, claiming it is not for dissecting or being fussed over by those who sip Pumpkin Peach Ale, but people who like drinking beer. Grrrr, RUFF, RUFF! They not only oppositioned the competition but also those who drink the micro-beers, in an attempt to establish themselves the King of Beers, and their users like the guy in the photo with the Chevy Colorado truck. You know the one girls want to run away with.
  • Brand linkage should not be overlooked – The Morphie spot received favorable press. But we viewed it prior to the Super Bowl and could not remember what it was about. Sure, the ad breaks through the clutter but when you can’t remember the brand and its benefit, well, that’s poor brand linkage. (Note to self: commercials that are over produced, like Morphie, usually fail to generate sound brand linkage.) Messaging not only needs to be relevant to the target-customer but also to the brand if it is to be remembered and acted upon.
  • Please, avoid “Hall of Shame” advertising – Sure sex and celebrity can sell. But can’t you do better. Is this the image you want to establish with potential customers? T-Mobile’s spot featuring Kim Kardashian is, in our judgment, and their word, “tragic.” A definite candidate for “Hall of Shame advertising.”


Regulation play is long over. Super Bowl XLIX was a venue for super excitement and learning. Now then, this Bud’s for you! Cheers and good luck.


Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney

Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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