It's Not About Ads - It's About Effectiveness

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Feb 1, 2009 4:47:38 PM

With the Super Bowl over, the conversation is certain to focus to one degree or other on the commercials.  If you follow any marketing commentary, you have certainly heard debate over the last week about whether the $3 million paid for a 30 second ad was worth it.

My opinion on the matter (as I’ve written before) is that there are typically far more effective things companies could do with that type of money to make connections with buyers and grow their businesses.  Though I do understand that there are strategic reasons that one would advertise on the Super Bowl, it is the one place left in America where people of all demographics and psychographics are together.

The point of this post is not whether or not your should spend $3 million for an ad – it’s what are you going to do with any money you spend on advertising, promotion, or community building.  The vast majority of readers of this blog would not even consider advertising on the Super Bowl, but I see them make the exact same mistake that Super Bowl advertisers make – and they do it with money more precious to them.

The mistake is highlighted with the annual homage paid to the famous Coca-Cola commercial featuring Mean Joe Greene.  There was even a remake of the ad last night.

What’s the mistake you ask?  After all, it won awards, it’s remembered and loved.  The mistake (at least according to Sergio Zyman, the Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola who pulled the ad) was that it didn’t increase sales - and that is the purpose of advertising and marketing.

Some of the ads last night were funny, most were inane and none stood out.  I did an informal survey of my guests at halftime and while people could remember the ads, they could not remember who advertised.

Too often, companies of all shapes and sizes chose to do the popular and/or predictable thing rather than the effective thing.  Let's face it - it's easier to make a commercial (or a message) that's funny than it is to make one that is effective.  To be effective, you must:

  • Clearly focus on who you are trying to communicate with

  • Fully understand the person you are trying to communicate with (this, by the way is the most difficult thing to do), and

  • Clearly communicate why the person you are trying to communicate with should care what you are saying.

The reality is that if Super Bowl advertisers did these three thing alone, there would be far less controversy about spending the money to advertise.  The point for executives of small and mid-sized companies looking to connect with growth opportunities is that it doesn't matter how much you spend, you must do the hard work or you are wasting whatever money you do spend.

Topics: Performance, B2B Sales Strategy