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Featuring Thousands Of Crabs On A Beach Otherwise Populated By Human Beings

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         Views: 1241
2007-03-20 08:48:54     
Article by Ravi Arapurakal

I am not going to go into all the individual commercials shown during Superbowl XLI. I am going to mention a few that seemed to show some strategic or executional brilliance, even if these still failed as a whole.

Before I go into them, let me make a key introductory point. There are broadly two kinds of advertising claims. Those that are so obviously true that they require no additional support to be accepted by an audience. And those that make a point that is not easy to accept, and require some support to back up the advertising claim.

One thing I noticed to be common among virtually all the ads shown at this Superbowl was the seeming inability of the Advertisers and Ad Agencies, to distinguish between these two kinds of advertising. I will illustrate this point with the following examples that came somewhat toward sound share-increasing advertising, but stopped well short of being really good commercials, for one deficiency or another.

FedEx's "Moon Office" is a 45" commercial is certainly dramatic, by virtue of being located on the moon, and showing that FedEx can handle product shipments to their customers even here on the moon. The commercial was spectacular in its ability to simulate a gravity free office, complete with the usual floating and eating and drinking problems in such an environment. It also showed something that purported to be FedEx space bus toward the end. But amazingly, the commercial dispenses with the one person who brought the good news about FedEx to the others - by having him taken out by a passing meteorite! Isn't there a limit to dramatization? People already know that FedEx gets things everywhere reliably. What does this dramatization on the moon add to that point? Where is competitiveness? And but for the FedEx space ship, Why should we expect this moon-based dramatization of FedEx's delivery capabilities make customers of UPS, DHL and the Postal Service who have not yet been converted to FedEx - do so now?

Then there is SalesGenie.com's 30" commercial that spends all its time how smart it made a salesman look smarter than his peers, by providing him with 100 free sales leads. But this is a dot come name, and the real problem is to make the audience remember the word Genie. Surely they could have found a way to dramatize the Genie in such a way that the Genie part of SalesGenie would penetrate and stick in the audience's mind!

Dorito's 30" commercial did best job dramatizing all the virtues of its nachos - spicy, cheesy, crunchy, bold, smooth, and its tagline "Live the Flavor". It featured a guy driving along while opening his bag of Doritos, with a lovely girl walking on the pavement with another bag of Doritos. The two see each other, and in the expressions and actions and events that follow, all these virtues are dramatized, complete with supers to make sure that the audience will not miss the significance of a single dramatization. Of course, the whole thing is contrived and silly, and is unlikely to make anyone who is not already a Dorito fan want to become one.

Snickers, 30" commercial shows two guys in a workshop attacking opposite ends of a snickers bar until their lips meet in the middle of the bar. Suddenly embarrassed, being obviously homophobic, they feel compelled to do something 'manly', in this case, opening up their shirts and pulling off some hair from their chests! This spot creates more unnecessary and avoidable problems for itself with this homophobic twist, which entirely obscures the product and the advantages that make it preferable to other candy bars. Phew! And they spent a few million dollars to get into all this trouble!

Then there are three CareerBuilder.com commercials. One would imagine that CareerBuilder's primary problem is to get people who are using other online job sites to switch to CareerBuilder, rather than showing exaggerated dramatizations of how difficult it is to get evaluated, promoted or get raises in their current jobs. Here again, as in the case of SalesGenie.com, they should have focused on making sure that the audience would remember the 'Builder' element of the name of the online job service, so that most of the people who saw the spot would remember the name, and want to try it out.

One of our greatest brands, Coca Cola was also present with two 60" commercials, both featuring highly sophisticated computer graphics, and a simple 30" one that featured black history month by highlighting milestones in civil rights progress. The two 60" commercials were no surprise, as they have been aired for several months already. I rather liked both ads, although I can't imagine how either of them will effect any conversion from Coke non-drinkers. I particularly liked the one that showed all the fantastic things that go on behind Coke dispensers, making it a magical product.

Sprint was there too, and was probably the most powerful of the 30" commercials shown during the Superbowl. Sprint's commercial not only made a strong competitive pitch, demonstrating how their wireless broadband was twice as fast as competitor Cingulars broadband service, dramatizing people who don't have the Sprint service as suffering from "connectile dysfunction". I am not kidding. But overall, not bad. This spot might have been worth the money they invested.

Then there was the 30" ETrade.com commercial that simulates a bank robbery, but in this case, showing how banks are robbing their customer with the fees and other handicaps they inflict on customers, complete with masks and intimidation. Here too, they didn't need to go through all this trouble to show that ETrade gives about six times as much interest as banks do. As this is verifiable they didn't need to be so dramatic about the banks. They could have been even more focused on ETrade's advantages.

Taco Bell was there with a couple of lions, yes lions. Out in the Kalhari desert. They, the lions were talking, and very charmingly, at that, pronouncing the name of their dish - Grilled Taquitos the way Ricardo Montablan might have had.

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