Not Another Super Bowl Advertising Recap

Face it, the world does not need yet another ad agency weighing in on this year’s Super Bowl ad onslaught. So, this isn’t one. But maybe there’s a more important discussion to have. What is all that big budget, mass media advertising really all about? If the Super Bowl didn’t exist, would advertising disappear?

Of course not.

The question is: as the world of marketing rapidly moves to programmatic, addressable targeting, video displayed in 6-second units, and demonstrable real-time ROI for every placement, why celebrate a festival of 30-second spots aimed at a mass audience more likely to be wiping Buffalo sauce onto their NFL jerseys than thinking about their next car?

Former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath in 1971, left, and at Sunday's Super Bowl in New Jersey. AP

In short, is the Super Bowl approach to advertising as antiquated as Joe Namath in a fur coat? Are the ghosts of 1960s advertising smiling down from the great Madison Avenue in the sky and having their last laugh?

On the one hand, there are certainly cases of brands that have scored big from their efforts. By all accounts, Old Spice sales after introducing their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” spot in 2010 (Super Bowl XLIV for those Ancient Romans among you) were bigger than the winning score of Super Bowl XXIV. And we’re probably still buying Apple products thanks at least in part to the brand building they did with their 1984 spot in, well, 1984.

And, true, many Super Bowl commercials get far more play outside the actual broadcast, meaning you really can’t judge all of them based on that one-time multimillion dollar buy. But that’s hardly true for all 50 or so spots aired during the game. In reality, advertising on the game is more of a hail Mary pass than a perfectly planned first-and-ten play.

But in fact, all this focus on advertising that does not reflect the reality of today’s marketing. It may be no more than a yearly distraction from the real needs and best practices of 99.99% of today’s brands. Kind of like the game itself—fun to watch but hardly representative of the week-by-week play of most teams in the league. Bengal’s fans, are we right?

So, okay, maybe you can chalk this up to just a bit of jealousy that we ourselves don’t have a spot in the Big Game. Sure, it would be nice to that one-and-done, hail Mary spot on our agency reel. But rather than think about advertising methods of the past, we prefer to spend our time creating the advertising of the future.