Well, the Denver Broncos are the NFL Super Bowl champs, but who won the annual “ad bowl,” the competition to see who can make the greatest, most-talked about TV commercial? Nobody. This year’s crop of “event ads” was by far the worst in history. Time and time again I found myself asking my wife “who is this commercial even for?” Surely puppymonkeybaby is the nadir of western civilization as we know it.
Why have we seen such a precipitous decline in the quality of Super Bowl commercials? Blame the Internet. The web is to blame in two ways. First, ad dollars are being directed to social media and other online properties, leaving fewer dollars for traditional media like TV (though you’d never know it by the prices they are still charging for Super Bowl ads). Second, as more and more people turn their attention to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever during commercial breaks, it’s harder to justify the massive expenditures on ads that simply attract less attention.
What does this mean for those of us in the marketing business? Nothing new – anybody who has been paying attention has known that there was a sea change coming for a long time: new media are replacing the old. The Super Bowl is just one of the last islands yet to get flooded. The new reality of brand building is that you need to be agile and flexible and think ahead to see what is coming next, without abandoning what works. That means balancing between new and old media depending on your target audience. And that means balance on expenditures, whether the TV networks like it or not.
Want to see better brand messages? Just go online, and you’ll find a lot of them. Some of them are even TV commercials. You just may not see them on the Super Bowl anymore.