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They Paid $4m for That? Super Bowl Ads In Review

Advantages Of Direct Mail Marketing

super bowl 2014Ad space in Super Bowl in 2014 ran a whopping $4m for a 30-second spot. Which brands got their money’s worth for their Super Bowl spot, and which brands were offering up a chunk of their marketing budget on a prayer?

While Super Bowl advertising can make sense for brands that need a strong TV presence, one wonders whether or not the $4m would have been better spent on more cost-effective strategies like direct response.

Of the six criteria we use to judge the strength of creative (strategic, intrusive, memorable, persuasive, lasting, and yours), only a few spots went the distance to make the most out of their advertising space.


The Good


Anheuser-Busch – Puppy Love. 51/60


Strategic: 8/10 – Brand awareness advertising from the Super Bowl’s number one sponsor, Budweiser. Anheuser-Busch doesn’t buy Super Bowl spots to sell more beer, they need them to become a voice in the cultural history of America.

Intrusive: 9/10 – The Clydesdales get support from a Golden Labrador puppy, guaranteed to catch the attention of men and women of all age groups.

Memorable: 10/10 – The simplicity of the story told makes this one of the most memorable ads of the Bowl.

Persuasive: 4/10 – No beer for sale here.

Lasting: 10/10 – Another chapter in the evergreen Clydesdale campaign.

Yours: 10/10 – Only Budweiser could air this commercial.


GoDaddy – Bodybuilder. 46/60


Strategic: 10/10 – The launch of GoDaddy’s new ad succeeds at launching their new messaging campaign. Moving away from the slimy ads of the previous years into a product-focused strategy is such a good play for GoDaddy.

Intrusive: 9/10 – Shirtless bodybuilders running in droves can interrupt attention, and the ad progresses fast enough from the first bodybuilder to Danica Patrick in a muscle suit to ensure that you’ll pay attention to this ad.

Memorable: 7/10 – Will you remember this ad after a week? Probably not. But you’ll remember GoDaddy’s core message: that it will bring the hordes to your front door.

Persuasive: 10/10 – Get found. Get business. A simple, elegant tagline, and the right message for the campaign. If you’re a small business owner in the market for a website, you’ll check out GoDaddy.

Lasting: 5/10 – The GoDaddy rebrand has been in the works for several months now, and our discussions at people internal to GoDaddy suggest that the relaunch is being taken seriously. Will this be the first of many?

Yours: 5/10 – Lots of companies could have run this advertising. The addition of Danica as the spokeswoman for GoDaddy adds some value to this category.


The Bad


Kia – The Truth. 30/60


Strategic: 3/10 – Lawrence Fishburne reprising his role in the Matrix as Morpheus and singing the operatic Nessun Dorma to sell Kias feels off-brand.

Intrusive: 9/10 – The ad uses visual cues and a story that we recognize from The Matrix to grab our attention, and it is successful at maintaining it. But perhaps too successful…

Memorable: 4/10 – …to be memorable. We are lost in the ad’s fireworks and CGI and forget the real message here: Kia makes great luxury automobiles.

Persuasive: 8/10 – Barring all that, if you do watch attentively, you’ll see lots of reasons why the Kia 9000 is a fantastic luxury automobile.

Lasting: 3/10 – So far, this is a one-off commercial. We’ll see whether it develops into a regular campaign.

Yours: 3/10 – This feels more like a Lexus commercial than a Kia commercial. Kia should utilize the fantastic hamster rebrand from 2013 to sell the Kia brand, not just the Kia Soul.


Dannon Oikos – The Spill. 35/60


Strategic: 7/10 – Yogurt industry research suggests that yogurt consumers buy yogurt for the health benefits but buy a brand of yogurt because of the taste. Selling the taste of Oikos is the right strategic play for Dannon.

Intrusive: 4/10 – In the high-impact visual medium of Super Bowl advertising, John Stamos stands out. The real intrusive value of the commercial, the record-scratching addition of the Full House gang, occurs two-thirds of the way into the commercial.

Memorable: 3/10 – The ad contributes little to the cultural conversation about yogurt.

Persuasive: 3/10 – While the ad might remind housewives across America that they need to start buying yogurt, it’s a fleeting thought.

Lasting: 10/10 – Dannon owns the image of John Stamos eating yogurt with a beautiful woman. This ad follows the blueprint of last year’s ad “The Tease,” where John Stamos just won’t let her have a bite, complete with unexpected (and humorous) ending.

Yours: 8/10 – Dannon has hit the nail on the head with John Stamos. He’s the perfect spokesman for Greek yogurt. No other company could run this commercial, but it feels like it sells the category better than the brand.


Honorable Mention: Chobani – How Matters


The latest campaign from Chobani will go head to head with Dannon Oikos as the second Greek yogurt advertiser at the Super Bowl. Who won the Greek category? Let us know in the comments.

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!