What Small Biz Owners Can Learn from Superbowl Ads (Besides How to Waste Ungodly Amounts of Money)

What Small Biz Owners Can Learn from Superbowl Ads (Besides How to Waste Ungodly Amounts of Money)

Superbowl marketing advertisingI must confess: beyond the pleasures that come with watching a slew of manly men in tight pants run around and get sweaty, I’m not really a fan of football.

I watch to support Mr. Perfect’s interests and because (let’s face it) he’s holding the remote.

What I DO love about Superbowl are the get-togethers. Family and friends spending quality time around the digital fire ring, ingesting lots of cheese-based food stuffs and washing those tasty bits down with fermented hops.

And yes, the commercials…

It used to be that the ads were a huge secret only unveiled on the big day to those who did their time in a barcalounger. But recently, corporate marketers are doing all they can to wring every last drop out of those ad spends and possibly generate more buzz.

As a thrifty small biz owner who doesn’t have millions to spend on wasteful advertising, I often wonder how much better off our species would be if these corporations spent their hefty budgets on things that really mattered. I don’t know… create better products to begin with?

Things that make you go hmmm…

Just for fun, I asked the fabulous folks on my email list which of the pre-released commercials was their fav, and why.

Of those who responded, most preferred the Budweiser spot. Here’s what I heard:

Budweiser makes the best commercials. I wish their beer didn’t suck so much. That one gave me goose bumps and made me cry. What a cool story in one minute. In a tie for second would be the Audi Prom and the Taco Bell Old farts and the Doritos goat. All of them tell a good story, and they actually get their brand/product in their… But Coke should stick with the bears… (Laurie Nylund of Panangle)

Budweiser: It brought tears to me eyes when the horse came running up to him. It just goes to show we have no idea of the impact we have on other’s lives and how much we may mean to them. This just might me my most favorite Budweiser commercial yet. (Dianne Hartshorn of Blanches Place)

I would have to pick the Clydesdale as my favorite. Building a good solid business, be that online or offline, involves building relationships and really getting to know your customer. Treat them as if they are your family. Do that and they will remember you and keep coming back. (Elizabeth Todd of Income Trigger Consulting)

I like the Samsung “El PLato Supreme”- cleverly written, delivered and makes fun of a sue happy society …made me laugh..second runner up is the Clydesdale — pulls at the heartstrings to be sure. (Jayne Ubl-Johnson of Drive Safe Ride Safe)

The bud commercial made me cry, but I would never drink the swill. I think my fave was Viva Young. So unexpected and fun, love the translation of the song and the outrageous scenarios with the elderly acting like 20-somethings. But make me want to get a taco or burrito supreme? No way. The only product I wanted to buy as a result of watching was the Becks Sapphire since it’s something I’ve never seen before and got my interest — tho the singing fish didn’t capture me. (Gloria Miele of Optimal Development Coaching)

I loved the Bud ad. [It] made the biggest impact on me…because of the emotional impact of a well told story. I am not much of a beer drinker and if I did choose to have a beer it would not be a Bud — except for those rare occasions. You know — it’s 107 degrees outside and you find yourself in some dry county at a dusty ranch faced with a plate of BBQ’d meats, beans and corn and your choice of Sweet Tea or Bud. I think that makes the commercial a success! I’m clearly not their target market, but their commercial could influence my behavior under certain circumstances which is the most they could hope for from me. (Lisa Keating of Encino Mom Productions)

I watch SB commercials for the entertainment value only. None of them persuade me to buy their product. (Corinne Marasco of Imprimere Consulting)

My favorite was the Audi/prom ad because it was relevant, humorous and you knew what the product was before the last 3 seconds of the ad. In contrast to many of the other ads, this one focused on a story and an emotional connection with the viewer. You don’t have to be in high school to relate to that particular fantasy. I felt like a lot of the others were too focused on “noise on the screen” perhaps to get our attention and trying a little too hard to be funny. The Audi ad pulled off “funny” because it connected on a real human level. As for buying the car? I can’t say the ad would prompt me to do that. My car purchases depend on cost, the driving experience, service and other preferences that an ad can’t influence. (Carol Lynn Rivera of Web.Search.Social)

My favorite is the VW Beetle commercial. I used to own a double yellow VW Turbo and I LOVVVVEEDD it. Not only did it make me smile every time I got into it, I would get stopped by complete strangers who would ask me what it was like to drive a bright yellow car. Oh, and yes, I would go out and by one in a heartbeat — well, when my 5 year old is able to ride in a seat belt and not a car seat. (Colleen Conger of Digital Photo & Design)

My favorite is Budweiser’s “Brotherhood.” Any commercial that touches the emotional triggers of that special and lasting love connection between people and animals gets my vote. This is an ad without a facade. It doesn’t need one. [Would I buy it?] If I were a beer drinker … Yes! (Melanie Kissell of Solo Mompreneur)

And while I’ve never been a horse person, I also found myself a teensy bit teary-eyed when Mr. Clydesdale came back to say hello to his “Daddy.”

But the REAL question shouldn’t be, which commercial did the best job of entertaining you. The REAL question needs to be: Will this advertising get you to buy anything?

Let’s break this down…

If women (who do most of the grocery shopping) are the target audience for this commercial, it’s clearly made an impact with us. We like the commercial. It pulls at our “heart strings.”

But will we change our buying habits because of a good story?

I sure wouldn’t. I love beer. REAL beer. And Budweiser (to me) is the equivalent of a bad generic soda. (And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.)

I’m curious — ladies — if you’d choose to buy a 12 pack of Bud the next time you were “tasked” with stocking the fridge for yourself, your man or a circle of friends (vs what you usually buy).

And let’s say for argument’s sake that you’d never heard of Budweiser before. Would you try a new beer because their commercial made you cry? Mmmm…it’s a long shot. But Melanie did say it would move her to make that purchase. But she admits she doesn’t drink beer…so, what do we do with that?

Let’s get real here — the only people on Planet Earth who’ve never heard of, or tried Budweiser before aren’t likely to see this commercial. (Melanie only saw it because I asked her to watch it…she readily admits she doesn’t watch TV on a regular basis.)

And, for that matter, do ANY of the Superbowl ads make you want to buy the advertised product or service? And I’m speaking here of a product or service you’ve never tried before…Or, are they really just entertainment?

I have to admit, that the only spot that even got me thinking about buying anything was the most boring of the bunch: the one for Beck’s Sapphire (then I found out they’re made by Budweiser so, um…). And if I were a soda drinker, I might consider the SodaStream product. But that’s where it ends.

So if you’ve been thinking about putting some money into producing a commercial or (more likely) a video for your small biz, consider these four things:

  • Who are you trying to reach? (Tell a story that appeals to your ideal customer)
  • What do you want them to do? If you’re trying to convince people to switch products or services, then that needs to be part of the story you tell…why should they switch? (Make sure you’re telling a RELEVANT story to your ideal customer)
  • Will your message be enough to get the job done? If you’re selling a big ticket item, your sales cycle is probably a long one (as opposed to the sales cycle of a $50 item); in which case you’re going to need to spend a lot more time and money getting in front of your target audience (Could you tell the story in a more efficient and cost effective way?)
  • And finally, is your product even worth the time and money? (Maybe you need to go back to the drawing board?)

Always, ALWAYS start with creating an awesome product. Even millions of marketing dollars won’t convince people to buy crappy stuff.
(Thanks Laurie, for finding this article).

I’ll give the last word on this to Stephen Colbert:

So which commercial did you like best and why? And would it convince you to buy the product? Share your views in a comment below.

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    I actually thought the Budweiser commercial was ridiculously over the top sappy. And boring. I zoned out a minute and a half in. I wonder how many guys would like that commercial considering they’re the more likely demographic?

    Funny you mentioned the sapphire commercial. I had the same initial reaction. Boring. But hm, a new beer? Ok, may be I’ll try that…. oh wait… never mind.

    And the soda one… never heard of that product, thought it was kind of cool, figured it was kind of expensive, don’t drink soda…. moving on.

    I think this is the big fail with superbowl commercials and you said it exactly: these are brands we know like the back of our hands. How many people are going to hear of Budweiser for the first time during Superbowl and go wow, gotta try that! So if it’s an awareness campaign it’s sort of spent. If it’s a new customer campaign… um, who would that be? If it’s to entertain us, ok. But does that help their bottom line? The most awesome commercial ever would not get me to drink a Budweiser! Unless they paid me. Maybe like $80 ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/panAngler Laurie Nylund

      The difference between marketing goals such as awareness, engagement, customer loyalty, lead generation, and sales isn’t something we discuss much – we sort of lump it all willy-nilly into the marketing basket. Given the dollars the big boys spend on these commercials, you gotta think they are achieving SOMETHING that keeps management happy.

      And THANK YOU for the mentions Tea-woman!

      • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

        All great topics for further discussion! Thanks for sharing your POVs, Carol Lynn and Laurie!

  • http://twitter.com/MelanieKissell Melanie Kissell

    Thanks for the mention, Tea. You’ve made some really good points and, I betcha, created some really good questions about advertising!

    First off, I’m a gal who goes weeks on end without turning on the T.V. I don’t enjoy it as a way to spend time, there’s little to no quality programming to choose from, and there are TOO DAMN MANY ADS!! (Pardon my French)

    Although I chose the Bud commercial as my fav, I agree with @twitter-15837561:disqus Like most commercials (in my humble opinion), it’s over the top. Aren’t they all?! I believe it’s intentional on the part of advertisers to do something (usually stupid, outrageous, or an insult to my intelligence) to grab you by the collar and rope you into their pitch.

    And heaven only knows why they find the need to pay the super(bowl) big bucks to run their ads over and over and over again! That tactic doesn’t make me want to buy anything … it makes me want to put my foot through the T.V. screen!

    Might I add (if you haven’t surmised this already) …
    I LOVE marketing … and I HATE advertising!

    Totally hilarious video from Stephen Colbert!!! LOL!!

    One more tidbit about the Bud ad:
    Of all the commercials in this grouping, it was the only one that spoke to my reality — a scenario I could genuinely relate to. My oldest brother worked the stables of race horses several years ago. He groomed, fed, and exercised the horses. I had the joy of visiting the stables many times and loved every minute. If you’ve never stood close to a horse … try it sometime. :)

    • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Thanks for chiming in (twice!) Melanie. I appreciate your voice as part of this discussion. :-)

  • IncomeTrigger

    Thanks for the mention Tea. Having watched all the ads there were some good stories. The Budweiser to me was a nice story about the relationship that the man had built with his horse. The Mercedes was another good one; dare to dream. Most of the others also had quite a nice story line. The problem with each and every ad, as far as I’m concerned, was that I was not enticed to try any of the products or even take a first step by looking for more product info.

    The only way that I could see ads like this achieve conversion would be through regular repetition to subconsciously re-enforce the brand. As an example, if I had seen the Budweiser ad several times over a period of time and the local liquor store had it on display close to the entrance or exit I might try it just to see what it’s like.

    Could it be that so much money is spent on the big Super Bowl ads as a marketing exercise simply to test the audience response?

    BTW; The Colbert Report video is restricted to viewing in the US only.

    • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Sorry you had to miss out on The Colbert Report…can you access it through his website (http://www.colbertnation.com/)?

      And yes, you’re right — the conversions on these ads are probably not what they’re after. More likely, they’re pursuing some sort of advertising or creative award. Which is one of the big problems when you work with a big ad agency (they’re usually more interested generating buzz for the commercial than the product).

      • IncomeTrigger

        I can get to the website OK but videos won’t play. Looks like the Colbert report is definitely not available outside the US. I’ve had this same problem was another site some time ago. Something to keep in mind if you want to share info worldwide.

  • http://www.brandshiftmedia.com/ Rhiannon Llewellyn

    Honestly, I think that the only thing Superbowl commercials do is reinforce beliefs: I already am a fan of Samsung, so their commercial was funny to me and made me feel good about liking that brand.

    The Budweiser commercial just reinforced for me that they give good commercial, but the beer still sucks. (LOL.)

    None of the commercials for stuff I’ve never tried made me want to try it. The Taco Bell commercial was hilarious and awesome but I’m still not in the mood to go ruin my digestive tract with 99 cent tacos. ;) Again, I know Taco Bell does a good job making themselves look hip and trendy and occasionally awesome, but their product (like Budweiser) kind of sucks. Their commercial spot reinforced that for me.

    Of course, there are outliers. The Gangnam Style / pistachio commercial? FREAKED ME THE F OUT.

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