Why Super Bowl Ad Reviews Are So Stupid

Super Bowl 2013 - At The Superdome

Tough to Ignore

I tried to get past it. Weeks went by and I thought I’d finally put it behind me. Then I saw one more stupid post about Super Bowl Ads and the companies that were winners and losers with them. This was the last straw and I had to do something about it. I hope I’ll feel better after a good rant and maybe you can commiserate with me.


3 Reasons the Reviews Are Stupid Super Bowl Ads

I know everyone likes to watch the Super Bowl Ads and see which ones are crazy or funny or memorable. I enjoy them just as much as the next guy. As entertainment, I have no problem at all with most of the ads perceived to be winners and losers. Here are the main reasons I have a problem with all the evaluation of the ads within a few days after the game.

  • They’re not entertainment. They’re advertising. While there is some benefit to entertaining the viewers, it is limited and should be secondary to serious business objectives.
  • Short of causing a company to go bankrupt as an immediate consequence to a Super Bowl commercial, it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell if the ad was good or not. It may take weeks, months or, sometimes, years, to understand the impact of an ad. Not a day or two.
  • The evaluations are extremely loose and often based on the opinions of people that are intoxicated (it is the Super Bowl), uninformed or apathetic. I saw a quote from one “reviewer” who said (I’m paraphrasing) “I like them if they’re funny. I usually don’t even remember the company”. Not the kind of opinion you want to use to shape your million dollar ad spot.

3 Things You Should Focus On

In essence, these reviews irritate me because they’re focused on all the wrong things. If you’re going to advertise, you’ll do well to ignore these talking heads and focus on three simple things. If you do that, your ad may not win the opinion poll but will probably be a lot more effective in the way that matters (increasing revenue). Here are the three things you want from your advertising.

  • It needs to grab and hold their attention. If they don’t have enough interest to stick around for 30 seconds they’ll miss your main message. This is the full extent to which your ad should entertain. It must buy you 30-60 seconds of consumer interest.
  • It needs to create a strong association with your brand. For example, the VW ad with the kid playing Darth Vader won all the recognition. This wasn’t nearly as good as the one with the live Beetle racing through the woods. Why? The first one could apply to any car. The second one was uniquely “Beetle”. I saw the first one three times (counting YouTube) and still couldn’t remember what car it was for until I read one of the stupid reviews. Bad ad if you can’t remember the brand.
  • It must help you sell more of your product or service. I don’t care if the ad is the funniest of all time and wins hundreds of awards. If it doesn’t translate to profit it’s a loser. Your goal in advertising is to sell more of the right product to the right people at the right price. Brand Awareness is only useful if you translate it into income.

It Comes Down To Dollars

Listen. If you have so much money you can throw it away to simply entertain, then be my guest. It’s your money. From our perspective, we tend to be a little more practical. We like our advertising to be efficient and productive. The numbers that really matter aren’t found in the opinion polls. They’re on your income statement.

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Article written by John Howard

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John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

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One Comment


  1. Pharme800

    Hello! Interesting site!

    March 8th, 2011 at 8:49 pm Reply

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