Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stupor Bowl

I, as did 114 million other viewers, watched the Super Bowl the other night.

I, as did 114 million other viewers, watched the commercials in rapt attention. In fact, I was loathe to go to either the kitchen or the loo, not for fear of missing the actions of Eli Manning and Tom Brady but the actions of Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick. Et al.

When I did manage to view the latter two, along with Jay Leno and Elton John and Rickey Gervais and Clint Eastwood and Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels and Flavor Flav...(yawn)...I was reminded of the old Peggy Lee song (to drop yet another name), "Is that all there is?"

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

All I can say is, I wish when I worked as a copywriter at both New York and Charlotte ad agencies, I had the seemingly carte blanche expense account to suggest to my creative directors that, "Here's my concept -- all it needs to work is for you to get Betty White..."

This isn't just sour grapes on my part. (Well, maybe just a little...) The extravagance of some of these spots was cancelled out by the head-scratching query: "Okay...but what was the product? Who was the advertiser? Other than to entertain, what was the point? Especially if I can't even remember what they were trying to sell..."

Many of these spots were so intent on being over the top that, in my estimation, they ended up falling flat on their fiscally fatuous faces.

Where was the focus, I might additionally ask.

Most of us won't ever have the privilege or pleasure of promoting our businesses on television. But many of us might advertise in print, or on the web. Which can actually be tougher, less forgiving mediums because your audience is likely to rush through the pages to continue with their content reading.

Unless you’re doing a catalogue with umpteen items to sell, your best bet is to focus on one main service or product. Not that you shouldn’t mention that you have more than one commodity to offer (best rendered in a web site), but in the short space – not to mention time – in which your audience is flipping pages, on paper or online, your ad has to get at the crux of what you do. Simply. And quickly.

I attended a seminar once where an ad guru brought a couple of props to the podium. One was a small square platform with neat rows of sharp points sticking up. The other was a similar square platform, but with one sharp point sticking up (as in the old fashioned kind of retail receipts “holder”).

He took a single sheet of paper and tried impaling it first through the rows of points. Though it created minor little “impressions,” the sheet would not cut through; it remained on top of the sharp points. When he took the same sheet and forced it over the single sharp point, however, guess what happened?

The single, “focused message” broke through, while the “many-messaged” sheet -- or in the case of the Super Bowl spots, many layered visuals or with multiple celebrities -- hardly made a dent.

And now you get the...you-know-what.

So take that, John Stamos, Donald Trump and Deion Sanders.

Whatever it was you were selling.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another prime-time presentation of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

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1 comment:

Larry Miller said...

I hate football. Never liked it. Even as a kid. But I don't denigrate it. Others smarter than I like it. So not a knock. I just don't like it. But I predicted two things: NE would play badly and it seems they did. And they would also win 17-9 over NY. Which was the score through the third quarter. So I become Nostrada, 3/4 of but not 4/4 Nostradamus.

Saw some of the commercial spots. A lot of flash. A lot of art director portfolio pieces. Tricks. CGI. Stunts. Bah humbug! But very little salesmanship. No wonder America's in the economic diaper pail.

Then I saw one commercial, the one with the so-brilliant slugline, "Imported from Detroit," with so much subtext. "Halftime in America." It was optimistic but shot dark. Brilliant. I stood up and applauded...

...then sat down and flipped back to "Downton Abbey" (real conflict: will head butler Carson stay with the father or go with the daughter?) or "Californication," or whatever the aitch I was watching.

And I am glad so many New Yorkers have, Tuesday, been OCCUPYing downtown in a ticker parade for the Giants. (Note: That's "downtown," not "Downton.")