Or maybe cannonball over the shark is more like it. Perhaps the networks inspire continued investment in these gimmick advertisements by keeping the price high ($2.6 mil for a 30 second spot). As if somehow the value is implied by the price. Certainly, there’s a price to pay when your advertisement lives on virally; assuming that the advertisement is good. Only problem is that this year, they weren’t. At all. Even the FedEx caveman advertisement which was a little funny to me (except I was like, oh, cavemen, again), I feel, may have been better targeted at an audience that appreciates that kind of irony. Watchers of Dateline, for example. Superbowl ads are for pizza and beer….grrrr! It’s not really time to laugh heartily about the caveman who doesn’t know to ship FedEx…we want to be the caveman. Hey, even I can channel that during football games.
The problem with the Superbowl ads isn’t just the ads themselves. Any of those advertisements, if added to the drivel of ads we are already watching (or not watching in my Tivo-licious household) wouldn’t particularly catch they eye as being bad or good (though the one with the tank top straps…puh-leeze). The problem is that “superbowl ads” have become their own medium. Any ad that is placed has a purpose; to raise brand awareness, improve brand perception, educate on product features, inspire a purchase decision. Even the most annoying and/or low-budget ads can accomplish that. No superbowl required.
What people are buying with the superbowl ads are the “cool factor” (which begs the question of why Fedex invests in these because shipping is so based on what’s cool, but I digress); the thing that makes them go viral. It’s not like Diet Pepsi is trying to get their fledgling little parent company off the ground. They want you to think they are cool, they want you to send your ad to all their friends online. That only works if the ads are, in fact, interesting and preferably funny. Otherwise, not really worth the investment.
What it takes to be interesting now is different since the superbowl ads became the “Superbowl Ads”. First, we all have more access to funny content online and funny people (that aren’t working at advertising agencies). Second, parody ads fall into the “been there” category. Call it being jaded, over-exposed or refined (I’ll claim any of those), but I’m totally over them. What it takes to make an ad parody funny, also might make it not suitable for prime-time family viewing (in the opinion of whomever gets to decide that stuff). The ads this year all looked like stuff we had seen before: slackers worshiping beer, your co-workers are monkeys, Jessica Simpson is slinking around in shorts and boots (and let me tell you, it’s not like we haven’t seen enough of her lately…seriously…enough!). Frankly, what makes an advertisement stand out is the unexpected. And what’s unexpected in advertising right now isn’t superbowl ads.
I don’t know how, but they actually made me feel sorry for P. Diddy.