Pretty good game this year. On the field. The ads were far less impressive. I’m pretty done with what passes for humor in Super Bowl spots.
But, today, we’re not talking about what I like and don’t like. Today we’re viewing a selection of yesterday’s ads through the lens of Mobium’s brand philosophy. To own truly compelling brands that drive sales, clients need to understand what customers and prospects value most, both emotionally and functionally, when they make buying decisions. Success comes only after brands offer what buyers value and what they perceive as distinctive, meaning what they can’t get elsewhere. Then, entertaining and compelling creative must serve the mission of connecting the brand and buyer in meaningful ways.
So, let’s look at who Super Bowl advertisers are targeting, decode what that target values and what the brand offers, and discern whether that offering is distinctive. And, ultimately, do they pass the Mobium brand philosophy test? Yeah, it’s not b2b, but when you’re spending $3.8 million for a :30 spot, you better be saying something meaningful to your potential buyer no matter how you dress up your ad.
E*Trade (“Save It” – Baby with cash pile gives investment advice)
Target: Savers irked by high investment management fees. What they value, what the brand offers (WTV/WBO): Low fees for do-it-yourself investors who want to maximize their returns. Is it distinctive? Among financial powerhouses that advertise, yes. Pass/fail: PASS
Allstate (“Apple” – Adam and Eve set in motion eons of natural and human mayhem)
Target: Anyone concerned with liability. WTV/WBO: Protection against the inevitable disasters of life. Is it distinctive? Yes, they demonstrate a deep knowledge of all forms of mayhem and presumably possess an equal knowledge of how to protect you against the consequences. Pass/fail: PASS
Mercedes-Benz CLA (“Car Wash” – Hot babe watches high school football team wash car)
Target: People who find Kate Upton attractive (e.g., everyone on Earth over the age of 4). WTV/WBO: A car that will attract models who hang out in your driveway while you’re working, or napping? A car you can wash by hand? Not sure. Is it distinctive? Not in the world of auto advertising. Pass/fail: FAIL
(That’s enough links. If you haven’t seen these spots, you can Google them easily enough.)
Mercedes-Benz CLA (“Soul” – Devil bargains for guy’s soul, offers car)
Target: Twenty-six-year-old men who dream the dreams of 19-year-old boys. WTV/WBO: Sex, drugs & rock and roll, but at a modest price. Is it distinctive? It’s not even real. Pass/fail: FAIL
Toyota RAV4 (“Wish Granted” – Purple fairy grants family’s wishes)
Target: Dimwitted suburban families. WTV/WBO: SUVs without the spare tire on back and with satellite radio. Is it distinctive? Only if you never saw another SUV. Pass/fail: FAIL
Volkswagen (“Get Happy” – White mope speaks like Rastafarian, takes boss for a drive)
Target: People who hate their jobs and find short rides around the neighborhood life-changing events. WTV/WBO: A fun driving experience. Is it distinctive? We’re still talking about cars, right? Pass/fail: FAIL
Kia Sorento (“Space Babies” – Moron dad “explains” where babies come from)
Target: Idiots. WTV/WBO: A vehicle with a voice-activated music player. Is it distinctive? Uh, really? Is this the worst ad ever made? Pass/fail: FAIL
Budweiser (“Brotherhood” – Clydesdale pony grows up, forced to march in parades)
Target: Parents who listen to classic rock radio and have no natural gag reflex. WTV/WBO: Enduring family bonds. Is it distinctive? No, anyone with a heated basement these days can get their kid to return home during extended periods of unemployment. Pass/fail: FAIL
GoDaddy (“Perfect Match” – Female model and bufugly male “engineer” make out)
Target: Businesses that need websites. WTV/WBO: Attractive/engaging sites built to sell. Is it distinctive? Yes, it would be impossible to top that combination of sexy and smart. Pass/fail: PASS (though I’m not sure the company actually delivers on the promise of designing websites)
GoDaddy (“Big Idea Co.” – Guys around the world have same business idea)
Target: Businesses and entrepreneurs. WTV/WBO: Launching the big idea, being first to market, protecting intellectual property. Is it distinctive? This is the first I’ve heard about the .co suffix. Pass/fail: PASS and nearly PASSing out that GoDaddy has TWO good ads. Maybe I had too much Hamm’s at this point.
Blackberry Z10 (“Can’t do” – Guy walks down street with new phone, weird stuff happens)
Target: People who buy cell phones. WTV/WBO: A device that does amazing things. Is it distinctive? No idea because they don’t tell you what it does. Pass/fail: FAIL
Calvin Klein underwear (“Concept” – Male model shows off underwear)
Target: Male bodybuilders and models. WTV/WBO: Underwear as good looking as the wearer. Is it distinctive? I have seen no underwear like it. Pass/fail: PASS (but if they’re hoping to sell this to the other approximately 100% of people in the world: FAIL)
Gildan (“Getaway” – Dude’s sleeping hook-up is wearing his favorite shirt)
Target: People who wear shirts made better than the average shirt. WTV/WBO: Well-made high-thread-count shirts. Is it distinctive? Yes (if it does indeed have a high thread count, as promised by the tagline). Pass/fail: PASS
Speed Stick (“Unattended Laundry” – Dweeb pulls hot chick’s underwear out of laundromat dryer)
Target: Twenty-something hipster doofuses without girlfriends. WTV/WBO: Protection against body odor resulting from everyday humiliation and frustration. Is it distinctive? No. Pass/fail: FAIL
Taco Bell (“Viva Young” – Geezers sneak out of rest home for all-night par-tay)
Target: Gotta be males 18-35. WTV/WBO: Late-night drive-thru sacks of grease and fat to stuff down your pie-hole in a drunken stupor. Is it distinctive? Yeah, I guess it is. Pass/fail: PASS
Coca Cola (“Chase” – Madcap desert race to giant soda bottle)
Target: Seriously thirsty people. WTV/WBO: A cold, refreshing soda. Is it distinctive? Coke and Pepsi fans will tell you “Yes.” Pass/fail: PASS
Pepsi (“Pepsi Next” – Parents return home to kid’s epic par-tay, chill after drinking Pepsi)
Target: Soda drinkers ages 18-35. WTV/WBO: Real soda taste, less sugar for the young and energetic. Is it distinctive? In a Pepsi drinker’s eyes, sure. Pass/fail: PASS
Not bad. Take the car ads out, and we can call it a success from a strategic standpoint. Creatively, though … I get that Super Bowl ads need to be broad and appeal to a low common denominator but, c’mon, would it hurt to aim just a little higher?
My colleague Mike Speck is working on his review of the Beyonce halftime show, so be sure to check back soon. For more on Mobium’s brand philosophy, check out this e-book now.