#29 The Big Game

Hello, friends.

I have few rituals when it comes to watching live television. One of them is watching Super Bowl's ads. It started when, as a twelve-year-old, my uncle (an actual Mad Man) gave me a copy of this book and said to call him after the Super Bowl to talk about the ads. Since then, I've spent Super Bowl Sunday watching "The Big Game" with a ​notepad and pencil in hand.

And for almost a decade running, I've met with my marketing prof and friend, Dr. Hanson, the week after to critique and converse while the images are still fresh.

One of the most interesting evolutions with Super Bowl advertising in the age of the internet is the trend of releasing the ads before Sunday. It seems counter productive doesn't it? Why would you give away your big reveal ahead of time? One reason is to generate buzz before the game so there's even more people tuned in during the live broadcast. Also it makes the ad more sharable.

For this year's game, the spots are fetching a cool $5 million for 30 seconds of grandeur.

With that much coin on the line, do you think it's worth it?

It's a valid question.

Think about your favorite ad from last year's game. Do you remember what company it was promoting?

Historically, brands use the commercials for the chance to reach tens of millions of people at one time in one place. The smart ones focus their efforts on a particular segment of viewers (granted, it's the largest segment of the year) that will tune into Super Bowl Sunday. The majority of companies writing checks will take the path of least resistance and create a sensational ad for entertainment value, but with no economic or true brand value.

My guess is you'll be able to put the ads into one of these three categories:

  • Sameness (dime a dozen)
  • Differentiation (better than)
  • Distinction (innovation and atmosphere)

The ads that shoot for Distinction will be the ones you remember.

Until next time,


- David

P.S. This company gets "distinction" as well as anybody: http://www.mailshrimpfilm.com/
P.P.S. I'm digging this iconic home design styles infographic from Part Select.

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