2013 Super Bowl Ad Recap

Every year around this time, the world is graced with thousands (or more) articles written about Super Bowl advertising. At millions of dollars for just 30 seconds, I suppose the ads are worth discussion!

It is easy to get caught up in what ads made you laugh or made you emotional (#Clydesdales, anyone?). However, the point of the ads is not just to make you laugh; it is to build awareness and make you feel more connected with the brand or an individual product. Based on this concept, the following are my favorites and my least favorites.

Favorite: Best Buy

Amy Poehler is a hoot, and she naturally makes things more entertaining. But the best part about this commercial was that the concept related to the brand (unlike some brands that just have some random funny thing). Best Buy wants to be the technology expert — your technology expert. The employees are there to answer your questions, no matter how many (and how ridiculous) they might seem. They expressed that here, and got a couple laughs, too.

Favorite: Doritos

My favorite Doritos commercial was the one with the daughter who convinced her dad to play dress up with her by bribing him with Doritos. Besides just being an entertaining concept, I love that the Doritos commercials are crowdsourced. It gets the audience involved and allows for everyone to participate in the brand.

Favorite: Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola brand is all about enjoying the good things, life’s pleasures. This commercial captured that perfectly; it helped us believe the world is a good place by videotaping (via security cameras) strangers performing acts of kindness for no other reason than to be kind. Among all of the sleazy, arrogant ads out there, this ad was refreshingly different.

Least Favorite: Budweiser Black

I get the idea. This is a better, higher class beer and they tried to illustrate that with a seemingly upper class party, filled with dark glam. However, I have a problem not only with the product, but with the placement. I don’t think the Super Bowl is really the ideal audience for this beer product, let alone this type of commercial. That being said, if all Budweiser hoped to do is build awareness (versus build appreciation or like for something), I think this accomplished the goal. It certainly informed millions of the new product – although I doubt they are running out to buy it any time soon.

Least Favorite: GoDaddy

This was an easy one. I don’t think anyone liked it; it was unpleasant to watch. Additionally, a colleague pointed out on Twitter that it was downright offensive to the target mark, which is primarly the tech “geek”. Just because someone is smart or an IT person does not mean they are unattractive. The idea of GoDaddy’s other commercial also seemed out of touch. I get it that they were trying to convince people to reserve their URL names before others have the same idea, but it seemed mean spirited to me.

GoDaddy didn’t necessarily fail because of the awkwardness of the kiss; it failed because it portrayed its brand as haughty and simply out for attention, two less-than-desirable characteristics these days. I’d much prefer the humorous or the heart wrenching. That being said, if their goal was to get people to talk about them, they succeeded; that commercial received one of the strongest responses of the night!

Bonus Prize: OreoSource: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/02/oreo-twitter-super-bowl/

I did not get their actual commercial (maybe it was me?) but they hit the ball home with their highly discussed social media piece regarding the game’s power outage. The piece not only demonstrated creativity and wit, but it also showed they were ready and prepared. We all should take notes and learn from Oreo’s success: Always be ready to take advantage of the unexpected!

You can watch all the commercials here. Then tell me: Which commercials did you love? Which did you hate? And why?

JC Penney announces signficant marketing changes to price, promotion

For years, JC Penney has been one of my favorite — if not my most favorite — places to shop for clothing, primarily because they tend to have clothes that fit me and because they are relatively inexpensive. However, with exception of a couple of random items that were desperately needed (primarily from the A.N.A. brand they carry), I never, ever buy unless it’s on sale or on the clearance rack. While I want to look good, I don’t consider myself any sort of “trend setter”and I don’t have the money to spend $20 on a T-shirt. Especially when I know it will be on sale in a few weeks anyway.

It looks like many people are in my same shoes, and luckily the 100-plus-year-old brand has taken note by announcing some fairly signficant changes that focus on  playing up pricing an downplaying promotions. A recent AdAge article explained some of the pricing changes here.

The first significant change will be embracing a new pricing strategy, consisting of “fair and square” pricing. It includes three types: everyday, regular prices; monthlong values; and best prices, on the first and third Fridays of every month. To determine new prices across its product range, Mr. Johnson said that the retailer looked at what it was charging and what customers most often paid after numerous discounts. He found that only one in 500 items sold at full price, while 72% of revenue was derived from selling products at 50% off or more.

For example, a T-shirt that had retailed for $14 but typically sold for closer to $6 will now be priced at $7. In a month when it’s a featured product, it will cost $6. When it’s time to clear it out and change colors, it will cost $4. The retailer is also embracing flat prices, no more 50- or 99-cent add-ons.

This sounds great, and I am excited to see how much prices will really drop in the next month or so. However, I hope they will monitor this carefully to make sure they aren’t hurting themselves by getting rid of the “thrill of the sale.” While I advocate for pricing items as low as possible while still being able to make money, there is some excitement in a limited-time sale, and JC Penney should keep that in mind. I think they have by making certain items on sale when it’s time for them to get a move-on.

Also, I am interested to learn they will do away with the .50 and .99 pricing endings. Many marketing texts have said these price endings puts the perception in people’s heads that what they are getting is a good value. But why? If I have the option of paying $5.99 or $6.00 for something, it really isn’t that big of a deal. What’s a penny worth in today’s world? I think JC Penney is recognizing people have become smarter than this old notion.

Besides dropping regular prices, another change  to JC Penney is decreasing the amount spent on promotional efforts. According to the AdAge article, JC Penney has spent $2 million per promotion in the past. So, if they have had 590 promotional events per year, as the article states, that is about $1.18 billion or $98 million per month.

Under the new plan, rather than spending so much per promotion, they will spend only (yes, not the best use of the world only) $80 million per month, allowing them to either save $18 million monthly ($216 million annually) or put those extra million toward cutting prices year-round.

In today’s world, where saving money is essential and hokey, redundant advertising is shunned, this plan sounds like a great one; a trailblazing one, perhaps.

In addition to making price points more available, the current advertising  JC Penney has done seems to not only mention the craziness associated with sales. I mean, what American hasn’t purchased something only to find out it was significantly cheaper a couple days later? It’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world, and they captured it in their new commercial.

In the end, I think these changes are exciting and I’m very interested to follow their success. They are certainly getting the company plenty of press and helping change the company into one that is focused on what consumers want. In fact, when JC Penney released this info, its stock rose significantly, even though it had been fairly low for a while.

From a customer’s perspective (assuming you have shopped there before in your life), what do you think of the changes they’re making?

Are your ads boring? Gen Y probably thinks so.

Every year since my freshman year of college (2006! Yikes!) I have visited Southside High School, my alma mater, to talk about St. Bonaventure University with current high school students.

This year, I was happy to have a fellow SHSer/Bonnie to return with. It’s always an easier task when you’re not alone, and this student, a Bonaventure freshman, knew a lot more people at the high school than I did since she recently graduated.

While we were there, one of her friends came up and we all talked or a while. Part of our conversation went something like this:

Student: What’s your major?

Me: I’m a graduate student. I study integrated marketing communications.

Student: (Quizzically) Oh, what kind of classes do you take with that?

Me: Well, recently I took a new media class that was a lot of fun because we got to blog and use Twitter and stuff. Before that I took a class on advertising.

Student: Advertising? That sounds boring.

I think I responded with something like, “No, I enjoy it.” And the conversation moved on.

But later I got thinking about this. Boring? That’s not what most people say when you mention advertising.

Now, obviously, this was a high school student who certainly doesn’t know all there is to know about careers, let alone a career in advertising (I certainly didn’t at his age).

However, his remark describes how many Gen Yers view advertising: It’s stupid, boring and annoying.

Being a Millennial myself, I certainly see where my generation is coming from. I have had similar boring, corny, annoy experiences with ads that get in the way of what I really want – a show, a webpage, a song, etc.

While some young adults dislike advertising, it still has a place in society, at least for the foreseeable future. Moving forward, it’s important companies make sure their advertising does two things:

  1. Fits your brand and your product/service
  2. Fits your audience

First, your marketing must fit your brand’s personality. If your brand focuses heavily on being innovative, creative and fresh-thinking, it should reflect that in ads or other marketing pieces. If it doesn’t, consumers will become confused or disinterested.

Secondly, let’s face it: An ad for a retirement community will not resonate with teenagers. Period. It just won’t interest teenagers.

But show them a commercial for a new cell phone and things might change.

That comparison illustrates part of the problem with traditional advertising, a tactic that is not personal and that assumes everyone watching that channel or reading that magazine has at least some kind of interest in that product or service.

Gen Y wants something that’s personal. They might not know it, but they value relationships more than anything. As the student unknowingly illustrated, advertising is being talked to and being talked to is often boring.

Having a conversation on something that interests you is fun. Advertising can start that conversation, but opening a conversation is just a piece of the beginning of a relationship. After the ad is shown, it’s up to the marketer to take away the “boring” factor by building a genuine customer-brand relationship.