Tag Archives: AT&T

Read This Before Watching Super Bowl Ads

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 7.23.16 PMExcuse me, the Big Game.  If you weren’t aware, there are very tight restrictions imposed by the NFL on use of the SB words.

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/31/18202037/super-bowl-53-ads-trademark-the-big-game-2019

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But that’s not the point of this post.

You may be one of the many who watch the ads purely for entertainment value.  If that’s the case, you’re no doubt in for your share of brilliance, virtue signaling, emotional manipulation, morally questionable/disgusting, Christopher Walken and just plain bad ads (see “puppybabymonkey”).  All of which is great.  Enjoy.

https://thearmchairmba.com/?s=super

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The intended point is that even if an ad is unbelievably hilarious, poignant, memorable or otherwise highly engaging, advertising has diminished value if the brand is not well integrated.

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It’s sort of like meeting that attractive person at a bar that you have an amazing instant connection with, but leave without a phone number or any other way to take action.  If the brand isn’t connected to the ad, it’s hard for the viewer to do anything about it.

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If you’re a marketer, however, SB, er, BG ads are interesting for different reasons – at $3.5M or $4M whatever the price for 30 seconds is these days, you are no doubt wondering how that expense can possibly pay out.

The good folks at Kellogg Graduate School of Business have come up with a formula called ADPLAN that breaks down key components of effective ads.  You can see how they rate Sunday’s ads in real time here:  https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/news-events/super-bowl.aspx

Attention
Distinction
Positioning
Linkage
Amplification
Net Equity

This point we’re talking about is related to one of the 6 points – L – Linkage – – of the advertising to the brand.

Many of the Big Game ads do a great job getting your attention, but don’t close the loop by making the brand an integral element.

As an example, compare two very entertaining ads – – which of them can you connect to a brand?

  • “Just OK is not OK” – whether it’s a tattoo artist, surgeon, babysitter or tax preparer, this campaign is highly entertaining, engaging and amusing. It just doesn’t have a strong linkage to the brand or core message (other than ‘we’re better than OK’ – – not necessarily ownable or particularly compelling). I’ve enjoyed this campaign immensely but have never remembered the advertiser.  (It’s AT&T, by the way.  I checked).

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/IZ6U/at-and-t-wireless-ok-surgeon

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  • “Jake” You can probably already envision the scene (late at night phone call) and catchphrase “Jake…from State Farm”.  In this case, the premise (State Farm is always available) and the brand name are well integrated into the creative.

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7ISp/state-farm-3-am-savings

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That’s it.  My intended takeaway is neither original nor news – – but it’s still really important in evaluating ad effectiveness.

So enjoy the game this Sunday.  There will be lots of great entertaining spots. And it looks like it could be a good game as well.

However, from a marketing perspective, if you can’t remember the brand whose commercial you just watched, there’s work yet to be done.

Why does my phone company want to be my girlfriend?

For that matter, why do an insurance company, car company, and fast feeder also want to be my girlfriend?  (and where were they when I was an undergrad?)

Well, actually, they want to be your girlfriend too.  And I’m talking about long-term girlfriend, not quick little fling girlfriend* (example of that below).

Why?  Quite simply, they want you to like them.  And likeability is very good for a brand.   All else being equal, people would rather do business with a company they like. 

If you’ll work with me on the analogy, these are companies in very competitive, undifferentiated, and more functional than fun businesses.  We’re talking AT&T, Progressive, Toyota and Wendy’s.  They know there are other comparable offerings out there, so they do not want to play hard to get.  They want to be the brand you’re comfortable with and want your parents to meet (if you’re a guy).  If you’re a woman, they’re someone who’d be fun to hang around with.

Here’s a directory of the most prominent of the current ‘girlfriend’ spokespersons.

Girlfriends

Why do these spokespersons work so well?  They’re funny, smart and pretty.  Not beautiful, pretty – – girl next door pretty.  There’s a difference.  Progressive’s Flo, of course, started this recent wave, but all have serious comedy/performing chops.  They are naturally funny, and they’re in on the joke.  All are dressed conservatively, as if to maximize appeal without overt sex appeal.

In short, you like them for all the right reasons.  And if the advertising is successful, some of this likeability/appeal rubs off on the brand and helps you like the company just a little bit more than the competition.

Here are sample clips from each of these spokespersons.  They would seem to appeal to all major genders equally.

Toyota’s Jan (her expression at around :15 is pure comedic genius):

Progressive’s Flo:

AT&T’s Lily Adams:

Wendy’s Red:

These are fun spots, they build the product into the story, they catch your attention, and refreshing the campaign minimizes wearout.  And — they respect the viewer – wow!

So what’s wrong with beautiful?  Well, none of these women is Gisele Bündchen.  (actually if you look closely, Gisele Bündchen isn’t even Gisele Bündchen.  But that’s another story).

The reason:  beautiful just wouldn’t work.  Like it or not, it seems that model-beautiful and funny are virtually never celebrated in the same person (quick – – name a supermodel who cracks you up).   Using someone known primarily for their looks would be distracting, confuse the messaging, and rather than be likable, would make the spokesperson seem unattainable for guys and threatening for women.

*For an example of the exact opposite of the ‘girlfriend’ approach, check out the most recent Carl’s Jr. ad.  Suffice it to say, if you want the Texas BBQ Thickburger, you want it once, so you can tell your friends you had it.  But you would probably not respect yourself in the morning (warning, barely safe for work):   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvKuhpZjA4M

The Carl’s Jr spot, like most of their work, has it all:  contrived, cynical, pandering, insulting, demeaning.

Likability is good.   I wish more brands tried it.