Super Bowl Commercials

by JR Griggs

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517px-SuperBowl46Last night we saw the most watched sporting event in the world. The Super Bowl. Of course with it were the most anticipated commercials. So anticipated, I have heard reports that some get bladder infections, from not wanting to go to the bathroom during commercials. Right now there are lists being made by different magazines and networks, to determine the best Super Bowl commercials. There are even articles already out declaring which commercials succeeded and which ones failed.

What interesting is that all of this is done, with zero consideration of which ads actually pulled in sales. If your ad makes one of the lists, success right? I mean, who doesn’t want to pay millions for a Super Bowl commercial and have no concern for sales? It’s all about making the funniest commercial list, right? As I previously mentioned with Proctor & Gamble’ Old Spice ads, just because people think it’s funny, doesn’t mean they will buy it.

Long before anyone knows which commercials actually brought in sales, awards will be given out. People will champion the commercials that are voted the best. CEO’s and business owners will make the enormous mistake of following suit. Trying to create funny commercials and ads that don’t bring in sales. The madness will just go on and on.

It’s not that funny doesn’t work. It can work well. However, when your being funny but not giving a single reason to actually buy your product, it will fail. The Old Spice commercials are funny, but they are not convincing people to wear Old Spice. I thought the M&M commercial was hilarious. I was already eating M&M’s during the game though. And when I left and was asked if I wanted to take the left over M&M’s home, I declined. I know how many extra miles I have to run to burn those little suckers off.

Branding vs Direct Response

That of course doesn’t mean that the M&M commercial was ineffective. I have no clue, only sales will tell. I don’t think they are advertising to bring in more sales but maintain the awareness. There is value in brand awareness and keeping your name out there. Doritos is in the same boat. As a business owner, you must understand this difference. There is a difference between branding and direct response advertising. There is also a way to do both.

For instance, the M&M commercial could have finished with a line on the screen that reads “Go to to get a 10% off coupon”. That would take the buzz of the commercial and drive sales with the coupon. That takes the same commercial and simply adds direct response into the mix. M&M’s do not have to convince you to buy them. They just have to remind you to.

Old Spice however, is trying to compete against Axe. They need a little more than reminding. If they really wanted to get a feel for their market and how to better approach it, they could do research right there in the commercials. They could add something at the end that says “Go to and tell us what your favorite deodorant is and why, to download a Buy One Get One Free coupon for Old Spice.” Will that work? Heck I don’t know, I am just brainstorming here and using techniques that normally do.

The point is that your ads need to drive in sales. Being funny or even controversial may create awareness, but will they create sales? GoDaddy’s great awareness came from their first Super Bowl commercial. Their success came from their inexpensive products. Their commercials always end with a call to action, of going to the site to see more. They used a controversial commercial to get attention and brand awareness. Added direct response by sending viewers to the website. Then finished with a great product at a great price. Enormous success followed.

So this year, after watching all the commercials last night, which ones convinced you to buy their product?

Think about that the next time you want to advertise and are more worried about how funny the ad is or what award it wins.

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