Tag Archives: Advertising

Battle of the 2015 Super Bowl Ad Reviewers

It’s time to demonstrate (again) that when it comes to advertising, no one agrees on anything. Raise your hand if you’re shocked.

The Armchair MBA repeated last year’s stunt in comparing the ratings of 10 prominent 2015 Super Bowl ad reviewers, summarized in the handy chart below, along with my personal ratings. (Green/yellow/red coding, alphabetized within my ratings)


While no Doberhuahua this year, there was plenty of dreck and schmaltz to take its place, but a few very good spots as well. Unfortunately many spots were so-so – – either they rewarded our attention with a muddled message or weak branding, or they were copy-by-committee logical with no heart or pizzazz (Hello, GoDaddy. Hello, Weathertech).

Mostly universally admired: P&G Always “Like a Girl”, Avocados from Mexico, Dove Men+Care, Mophie, Budweiser/Puppy (I declined highest marks on the last two)

Most universally unloved: Nationwide’s “Boy” (runaway loser), Nissan, Lexus

Most schizophrenic (scored best on some lists, worst on others): McDonald’s “Pay with Lovin’”, SquareSpace/Jeff Bridges, Loctite “Positive Feelings”, Toyota Camry/Amy Purdy, Carnival Cruise Lines, Victoria’s Secret (had to watch this again to make sure I knew how I felt)

A few observations:
– Personally not a fan of high-concept feel-good spots like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola or Jeep, or for that matter, the very cute/manipulative Bud puppy ads. Fun for the agency, probably test well for likability, but hard to see how see how it drives action or enhances the core brand equity.
Love spots like Fiat 500 SUV – simple message (we made the base 500 bigger), using an analogy that’s easy to understand and relevant to the main point (if a bit naughty)
– Would love to be a fly on the wall during the approval process of the Nationwide’s “Boy” spot (spoiler alert: it’s about a charming boy who turns out to be dead. More chips & dip, please).
– For fun, check out some of the breathless, we-take-ourselves-kind-of-seriously reviews comments like “Powerful message but tough ad to watch”, “Disturbingly brilliant and impactful”, “emotionally powerful and good storytelling”, blah blah blah – you can see some here (as well as a CMO’s explanation about why his ad was NOT supposed to sell product.  Hmmm…).

To see the summary, click on the chart below. Click twice for maximum size/readability.


The reviewers:
Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Advertising Age

Wall Street Journal
Chicago Tribune

Entertainment Weekly



Yahoo Sports

New Yorker
New York Post (new this year!)

My evaluations are generally based on the Kellogg ADPLAN approach: Attention
– Distinction
– Positioning
– Linkage
– Amplification
– Net Equity – – along with some personal gut feel.

We know that the Super Bowl is a special stage, and different rules certainly apply.   In addition, there are social media linkages and previews that can dramatically amplify the impact of ads. So it is somewhat unfair to judge an execution in isolation.

On the other hand, we don’t claim to be fair. And as observed last year, sometimes an ad just sucks.

See you next year.


GEICO Advertising: It’ll take a lot less than 15 minutes to read this post…

I’ve been thinking about GEICO lately.  Not because I’m shopping for insurance, but because GEICO doesn’t give me any choice – – its advertising is in my face (and ears) constantly.

Which got me thinking:  Marketing 101 says that there should be creative consistency in advertising, lest the message (and brand) become diluted or confused.  But I can name at least a handful of concurrent campaigns (not counting infinite executions) for GEICO being used today.  I bet you can, too.

–       GEICO gecko – inescapable, multiple cross-media executions Geico gecko

–       Happier Than (guys playing guitar/mandolin) – (“How happy are GEICO customers? – – happier than Eddie Money running a travel agency”, etc)

Geico Eddie Money

–       Caveman (“so easy a caveman could do it”)Geico caveman

–       Rhetorical (“Was Abe Lincoln honest?”  Mary T. L.: “does this dress make my backside look big…”) (personal favorite)

Geico Abe Lincoln

–       Maxwell the Pig

Geico pig

–       And more.  There’s even a Wikipedia entry dedicated to GEICO advertising

Geico eyesGeico Peter GravesGeico Serling

So what gives?  Lots of quite different executions trying to sell basically the same product. Wouldn’t putting all weight behind one creative campaign (with freedom for infinite versions) make more sense?  Well, 2 main reasons:

1)    While the creative changes, the USP/ message is highly consistent.   All roads lead to Rome, and all GEICO ads lead to “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on insurance.”  They may be talking about a car, home, motorcycle, RV or whatever, but in the end the message is the same.  And that’s what counts.  While there might be a mixed read on what consumers recall creatively, I bet message recall (‘cheaper insurance’ or similar) would be very consistent.

2)    At some point any advertising can reach a saturation/burnout stage, and familiarity, even with the most inventive creative, will breed contempt.  So changing up the rotation, with the sort of weight GEICO deploys, works to its advantage.  In addition, consistent use of humor (generally done well) lends a lightness to the proceedings that make the spots more tolerable.

– McDonald’s has a similar variety of campaigns, but they support different strategies (meal dayparts, seasonal favorites, dollar menu, new products, etc.).

– Big Auto uses similar weight/variety, but unfortunately much of the focus is on price and only a few have message consistency that endures over time (‘Ultimate Driving Machine’).

The only questionable tactic is recently identifying GEICO by its original name, Government Employees Insurance Co.  Considering Congress’s abysmal approval rating (12%), one wonders what the expected gain would be.

Moral of the story:  in advertising as in humans, up to a certain point weight is necessary; beyond that point one must be cautious.

On the other hand, I still haven’t invested in that 15-minute phone call…