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Men Are Idiots and other lessons learned from Super Bowl ads

February 5, 2013

idiots (men) surrender their dignity for the sake of a finger-staining snack chip.I like advertising to have a message. I want to know, Mr & Ms. Advertiser, why you bought that time for your product and what you want me to do about it.

Sunday night’s ad spectacular—with a really good football game in between episodes—was big on production values but low on motivating messages. Here’s what I learned about the advertisers, and advertising in general, from the Super Bowl ads.

1) Men are idiots. A continuing trend. Men as seen in mainstream advertising over the past few years are stupid, lumpen fools. Few are in shape. Fewer are photogenic. Many have weird facial hair. They will do anything for products of dubious quality. If not for the patience and intelligence of women, the breed would have gone extinct long ago.

Doritos, Wheat Thins, & Oreos: Breakfast of Assholes.

Doritos, Wheat Thins, & Oreos: Breakfast of Assholes.

2) Brand name snacks are for idiots. Since men are idiots it follows that the products they enjoy are for idiots. Idiocy has long been a brand value of Doritos; for years we have seen X-chromosome bearers go to absurd lengths to get their mitts on the finger-staining chits. Let’s call this selling strategy “Breakfast of Assholes.” It has been used for years by Bud Lite. I always had to wonder why would anyone go to so much trouble for a flavorless, effervescent concoction that costs about a buck a pop at 7 Eleven?  Doesn’t it take more time, and a lot more money, to dress yourself up as a woman or a garden gnome than to just go to the corner store?
So I have to ask:
is making your product the focal point of a stupidity tug of war good for your brand? If you cast your brand in a disparaging light and hold up Neanderthals* as your target audience, why should I, a reasoning and objective Homo sapien you are paying a fortune to reach, buy your product?

3) Ads are for idiots. Oreos are tasty, but worth brawling over? Maybe in the Philadelphia where it is always sunny, but here in the real world we eat them when nothing else remotely chocolate-like can be found. Ditto Wheat Thins. When you position your product as something grown men will humiliate themselves for, what are you saying about your audience? You are saying they are Losers.

Nothing Beats An Astronaut.

A lesson to remember from Axe.

4) Soldiers are good. We don’t want to know what they do. We have no idea why they’re over there doing it. But we’re glad they’re coming home and  women should buy Jeep brand autos.

4a) Farmers are good.

tacobell5) Taco Bell is the place to go when you’re out late. That’s all this commercial has to say. Mission well accomplished.

6) Music makes a difference. The right choice of music turns a lame spot into something moving for Budweiser, Becks, and Mercedes and some others. Music rights probably doubled the cost of these and other ads.

7) Changing your ride will change your life. The best advertising sells how the brand makes you feel. Volkswagen has done this very well for many years (although not necessarily this time). This kind of message works best when the brand re-enforces a value it shares with the customer. Apple doesn’t make you creative: you use Apple to unleash the creativity you have. You choose to drive an Audi because you are brave, not because you will need courage to deal with the fallout from the crazy things driving an Audi will make you do.

7a) Driving with your mom in a Santa Fe makes you wicked tough. WTF?

7b) Driving with your dad (and the Flaming Lips) in some other Hyundai makes you do stupid things that look super cool. Oh, it’s also the Santa Fe.

It's good to tell stories. But when you do make it relevant to your product. Hyundai's team of super kids could ride in any vehicle that seats seven.

It’s good to tell stories. But when you do make it relevant to your product. Hyundai’s team of super kids could ride in any vehicle that seats seven.

8) It’s not the NEXT big thing if it’s big now.

Samsung wants to be known for its innovation—just like Apple. In fact they’re going to do what Apple does before Apple does it. So, Samsung, why not dazzle us with your cutting edge-ness now instead of hinting at it obliquely with this faux hipster mess?

When a top celebrity endorses a product, it lends that brand his or her own attributes: Therefore Samsung is as winsome as Paul Rudd, as cute as Seth Rogen and as winning as LeBron James.

The current big thing pretending to be the next big thing

The Benedict Cumberbatch and Jordan Proyer that were ponder the NEXT BIG THING for the company that wants to be the Next Apple.

But that’s not what Samsung wants to say. They’re looking for early adopters and taste makers to pick up their cause. Such folk, by definition, are not impressed with established quantities. LeBron has been at the top of the game for 5 years. Tell me who’s next? Make me feel good about my own cutting-edgeness by endorsing the who or what I’ve picked as cool before the rest of the world has. To prove your cred,, Samsung, tell me who or what is the NEXT big thing. Benedict Cumberbatch? Grizzly Bear? Willow Shields? Jordan Poyer? Beluga lentils? Tell me that and I’ll believe you are too. When you do know what the next big thing is, reserve it’s domain on GoDaddy. Kudos to them for a smart ad with a relevant message.

the trend for ironic facial hair continues

Ironic facial hair can sell anything!

9) Movie Trailers are PSAs. “Warning, this crappy action film or retread rom-com is coming, so stay away from the cineplex.”

which leads to…

10) If you’re going to tease, make your message tease-worthy. Nothing that was hyped really paid off—although I really like Coke Chase. But hey it’s just advertising. It doesn’t have to be scandalous, we just to say it is. Why? See #1-3.

This spot says there is a mystic union that joins all Budweiser drinkers. That's a good message.

This spot says there is a mystic union that joins all Budweiser drinkers. That’s a good message.

* The term Neanderthal is not meant to be derogatory. The Levens and Neanders were neighbors back in the day. We’re practically family.

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