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The GGC “Big Game” Ad Review

March 18, 2022   Posted By Chris Ilcin

Hello sports and marketing fans, and welcome to the Goldstein Group “Big Game” Ad review. Full disclosure – GGC did not, and most likely will never, have a client ad in the big game. But we do feel that there are valuable lessons for businesses of all shapes and sizes in the trends that the ads represent every year. 

Lesson #1 – Take the Long View 

The first thing you’ll notice is that this blog post is coming out over a month after the game was played and the ads all ran. There are two reasons for that.  

First--while we live in a society that is increasingly based on instant reactions and immediate judgment—your company’s marketing and branding should be considered in a long-term context. Sure, you want to have some “instant” reactions. How many leads did a trade show produce, or what was the open rate on the last newsletter? But it’s equally important to track how many of those trade show leads converted to a quality opportunity over time, to know which content in the email caused the most engagement, and to learn what we can do to encourage further engagement. 

Second, by not joining in the initial flood of post-game analysis, we were able to make this post stand out. After all, here you are reading it! The best marketing can be a victim of bad timing, so finding a pace and rhythm to your messaging is just as important as the message itself. And in case you need a replay – Ad Age has all of the ads here 

Lesson #2 – The Details Matter 

Nostalgia is a tricky, and subjective, thing. It’s highly personal, but based on pop culture, what is nostalgic to you may be a fuzzy memory to me. In order to combat that, some people will turn to a broad, generic creative approach. But that has risks too. 

A successful example – Coinbase had an ad that was just a bouncing QR code. And while this ad has received a lot of derision, I’d like to point out two things that I think made it successful. One, it ended right after a “corner hit,” which anyone old enough to remember screen savers will instantly react to. It also serves as an example of using nostalgia while not relying on it to make your ad effective. Two, the QR code received 20 MILLION hits in 1 minute, proving you can’t argue with results. It’s doubtful that any other Super Bowl ad generated that type of response and traffic to their site! 

An unsuccessful example – Meta (or Facebook) wanted to show how its expanding platform can help you re-invent yourself by finding new interests and a virtual village of support. Its use of a Chuck E. Cheese character animatronic band fell flat to most viewers, as if it was trying too hard and was creepy all at once. 

Lesson #3 – Integrate Your Marketing 

The Amazon Alexa ads featuring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost were just okay for me. What I think Amazon did excel at was its blanket approach—shorter versions of the ad acted as teasers before the game and continuing the ads after the game in heavy rotation. And not just that; the couple made appearances on numerous shows before the Super Bowl, not explicitly promoting the ads, but raising their profile and indirectly that of the ads too. 

The lesson: pick an overarching message, stick with it, and decide the most effective way to deliver it in every outlet. A consistent message that can be tailored to the audience and platform is far superior to changing your message constantly, leaving your brand muddled and unclear. 

Lesson #4 – You Can’t Buy Credibility 

Here are some fun numbers. A 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl cost on average $6.5 million (up from a $5.6 million average last year). With that same $6.5 million, you could have bought an ad in every Super Bowl broadcast from the first in 1967 until 1989. 

And while the normal players were there (Budweiser, GM, Frito-Lay), one of the bigger blocks of ads were those from the nascent cryptocurrency industry. In an effort to mainstream their industries, they bought ad time filled with celebrity cameos, (creepy) de-aging technology, and the previously mentioned bouncing QR codes. What didn’t their ads do? Explain what a cryptocurrency is and why it’s something the average person should consider.  

The lesson - all the money and creativity in the world can’t overpower a muddy message and unclear goals. 

And there you have it, some quick take-aways, and lessons to think about in your own marketing strategy.  

Stay Awhile

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