Five Things To Make Your Ads “Super”

Coke Ad - Classic 1979
Classic 1979 Coke Commercial Featuring Mean Joe Greene

It is Super Bowl Sunday – and later this afternoon millions of television viewers will be “entertained” by the best commercials companies and ad firms can come up with.  The stakes are high – this year CBS is charging $4 million for a 30 second spot.  Not a good time for a “swing and a miss” yet some commercials nail it, while others leave you scratching your head.

What makes some commercials better than others?  Like most good marketing, it starts with the basics. Here I list five “must haves” for any commercial, advertisement, direct marketing piece, etc.

  1. Know your audience – and market to them.  Yes – this is Marketing 101 – but it is amazing how many people fail in this very fundamental step.  
  2. Establish your goal – before you worry about messaging.   Are you trying to secure immediate purchase (pizza delivery) or initiate the first step in a long conversion process (buying a car, choosing an investment firm).  Pizza spot can be brief (are you hungry, call now) and be done in 15 seconds.  You don’t need detailed info about all of the reasons to buy this pizza.  A financial firm trying that would run the risk of alienating the
  3. You need to be aware of the reach as well as the limitations of  the vehicle you choose.  A classic failure in my book is GoDaddy.com and the Danica Patrick Super Bowl Ads.  Super Bowl has about as diverse of an audience as you can possibly have, from grade schoolers to  nursing home residents.  Those on either end of this spectrum along with most in the middle are not likely in the market to reserve domain names.  My advice to be more effective would be to stick with AdWords and get e-mail lists from Wired, Inc., etc.  Probably a much better use of the marketing dollars.
  4. Humor is GREAT – if it is memorable.  How many times have you remembered the theme of an ad (I remember herding cats from a few years back) funny but now memorable.  I have no idea who ran that ad – and I suspect nobody else does either.
  5. Know and understand the concept of repetition.  Having something good that people see 10 times is far preferable than something fantastic that they see once.  This pretty much eliminates the long term impact of Super Bowl ads, unless they are just the kickoff (pun totally intended) of a whole campaign.  It is just the way the mind works folks – most people’s decision process is just that – a process that requires “chipping away” rather than blunt force.

Enjoy the game today, especially the commercials.  If you don’t remember the companies, that’s OK – it is not your fault, it is some uninformed marketing gurus somewhere that are more interested in winning awards than they are in influencing behavior.