2013 Super Bowl commercial preview – hype it up

Kickoff for the 2013 Super Bowl is now less than a week away and hype for all the upcoming Super Bowl commercials is already in motion.

It’s no longer enough to merely advertise on the Super Bowl. If you’re not leveraging your commercial before, during and after the game you’re missing out.

Doritos is now in its seventh year of their “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion where they sponsor a contest that’s open to anyone to create their own commercial for Doritos. The finalists get put onto a website that lives on Facebook and people vote for their favorite. (https://apps.facebook.com/crashthesuperbowl/)

This is truly leveraging the power of social media and congrats to Doritos and their agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners – (who I personally consider to be the most creative agency on the planet). Each year, they wade through more than 6,000 entries, boiling their list down to a few that the American public casts their vote to determine which spot gets to air during the game. I was partial to ‘Fashionista’ but apparently ‘Goat’ has a big following as well.

Coke has jumped on the you vote to decide bandwagon with their Coke Chase campaign. (http://www.cokechase.com/index.html)

Here you find three groups – Cowboys, Cheerleaders and BadLanders doing their own, ‘Amazing Race’ to get to the cherished Coke at the end of their journey. There are all sorts of ways you can throw curveballs at the participants and stop them on their quest. It’s involving but in the end, you find yourself on this site and you ask, “What am I doing here, anyway?”

Wasting time, all in the name of Coke – but it is involving.

You’ll see plenty of automotive advertising this year as well. Hyundai has made a huge investment, purchasing five commercials. Here’s one of them which I like though it seems that virtually any car manufacturer could make this claim. (http://www.autoevolution.com/news/hyundai-sonata-turbo-2013-super-bowl-commercial-stuck-video-54488.html)

Mercedes-Benz has me a bit confused. They have this one teaser spot featuring Kate Upton that is both sexist and stupid. (http://www.automedia.com/Blog/post/Mercedes-Benz-Teases-Super-Bowl-Ad-With-Awkward-Kate-Upton-Video.aspx)

Then the Mercedes website has a much cooler and better produced teaser spot on their website utilizing a Rolling Stones track that makes me want to see more. (http://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/benz/innovation/future/model-2014_CLA#module-1?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=mercedes_cla&utm_campaign=Brd%7CGGL%7CSCH%7CCorp%7CCLA-Class%7CExact%7CPC&utm_content=%7C16946310927)

Toyota also has a fun teaser spot starring Kaley Cuoco that makes me look forward to what’s next … (http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/18461.html) while Audi lets a teen take dad’s car out for prom night and online viewers got to vote to determine which of three potential endings to the commercial we’ll actually end up seeing during the game. (http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2013/1/28/3921172/2013-super-bowl-commercials-ads-audi-prom)

From what I’ve seen so far, Volkswagen has one winner that actually shows their vehicle (http://jalopnik.com/5979495/2013-volkswagen-super-bowl-ad-turns-suburban-office-workers-into-jamaicans) and one loser of a spot that could be for anything but just so happens to end with the Volkswagen logo – but maybe I’m wrong and this is just a teaser. (http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/17961.html)

But enough about cars. What about beer? Anheuser-Busch will be debuting its Budweiser Black brand. The teasers didn’t do much for me and they seem to be jumping on the Black beer bandwagon a little late. Speaking of bandwagons, the Clydesdales will be present again as will Bud Light with their Stevie Wonder “Superstition” executions, this time zeroing in on New Orleans, site of the Super Bowl and all sorts of different superstitions.

I viewed a few more spots – Wheat Thins has a fun one and the biggest surprise to me is Go Daddy. They’re getting away from their Danica Patrick days and actually have a spot that ties back to what they do and why you should use their service and does it in a fun way – what a concept. (http://www.superbowl-commercials.org/18361.html)

As the week goes on, I’m sure more Super Bowl commercials will be released and of course you’ll be able to see all the spots online in one place the day after the game versus having to jump through hoops like I’m making you do with all of these links.

I’m simply adding to the hype and I’m already looking forward to Beyonce’s halftime show – who knows if it will match Madonna’s performance from last year or end up on this list … (http://www.policymic.com/articles/24251/super-bowl-halftime-show-2013-the-best-and-worst-performances-ever)

Keep the hype rolling.


What’s happened to creativity in advertising?

Has creativity in advertising gotten better or worse in the last 50 years?

That’s a simple question that was started via a comment in my Advertising Professionals group on LinkedIn via a recent post by some guy named Ed who was lamenting the fact that advertising looked the same to him as it did back in 1954 and that in all that time we learned nothing.


I just had to comment because to me, advertising is completely different than it was back in 1954. Of course, I wasn’t around back then and only began noticing ads when I was in my teens so for the sake of this argument, we’ll say 1974.

I mentioned how there are ways of communicating now that didn’t even exist back then and I asked Ed what aspects of advertising he was referring to with his comment.

Ed responded, “The part that humans see.”

That made me stop for a moment. Who was this Ed guy, anyway?

Turns out he is Ed McCabe, one of the founders of Scali, McCabe, Sloves – a New York agency that was famous for creating campaigns for Hertz, Nikon, Perdue Chicken, Maxell and Volvo.

I was responding to an ad legend who was elected to the One Club Hall of Fame at age 34 and was known as the ‘Wizard of Words’. He’s the writer who penned the “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” line for Perdue, and the guy who created one of my all-time favorite TV spots for Maxell (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2WcBi9mu6A) – though when I watch it now it didn’t have nearly the impact on me as when I first viewed it.

The discussion on Ed’s post continues – it seems that many people from the ‘old school’ believe that today’s advertising is all about the technology and nothing about the idea. The general thought is that today’s advertising practitioners spend too much time on applications and platforms and not enough on creativity and execution. I agree and I disagree.

We live in a culture that has grown dubious of advertising. It’s a culture that is so splintered, with so many things begging for your attention that it’s easier than ever for messaging to be immediately dismissed or easily forgotten.

Name the top ten commercials you saw this past year. Can you even think of five?

We are inundated with communications, overwhelmed by social media, engulfed by whatever is the hot topic of the day.

Remember Manti Te’O? That was so yesterday already. The inauguration came and went, mixed in with tributes to MLKJ but that will quickly be shoved aside as the hoopla for the Super Bowl begins to build and soon YouTube will be showcasing teasers of the upcoming commercials and you’ll probably know what’s going to be on quarter by quarter well before the game begins and the agencies that created these commercials will also be responsible for generating buzz in social media and launching the spots to their shareholders or providing advance screenings with promotional tie-ins that feature local marketing efforts designed to boost in-store traffic.

It’s all mind-numbing, isn’t it?

Advertising is no longer advertising. It’s now all about branding and connecting with your customers and trying to turn them into true brand advocates via experiential marketing delivered through a variety of touchpoints. It’s creating an on-going dialogue with your target audience. People are more skeptical than ever of advertising messages and if you don’t speak the truth and resort to nothing more than hype, you will be quickly called on the carpet.

So how does the person given the responsibility for creating advertising messages in this day and age learn how to do all this?

You have to be open to change, always learning and respectful of your customer. Add that in with a heavy dose of creativity that goes beyond thinking of the ad but also in how to reach your customer in a totally fragmented market and somewhere in there is the recipe for success.

What’s happened to creativity in advertising?

It’s gotten a hell of a lot harder than it was back in 1954.

What’s your biggest challenge in staying creative these days? I’d love to hear it.


A smoking/gun/hoax media whirlwind

St. Louisans have all sorts of media-related stories vying for our attention and in this 15-minutes of fame world we live in fueled by the power of mass media and social media, it’s hard to know where to focus.

Obama and the NRA are taking shots at each other (pardon the pun) over gun control. The St. Louis county council is considering negating the exemptions on its current smoking ban. But the story that really has everyone buzzing is the news that the deceased girlfriend of Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman runner-up Manti Te’O was some sort of hoax.

Who cares about gun control, smoking bans, fiscal cliffs or the fact that we’re in a severe winter drought when we have the mystery surrounding Manti who tearfully told the cameras back in September about the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend that happened within hours of each other. Then he went on to honor their memory by being credited with 12 tackles in a big Irish win over Michigan.

Did he know or was he really duped in to this hoax that seems to have enough gaping holes in it that a running back would have a clear path to the end zone? Enquiring and inquiring minds want to know. In fact, I’m sure the National Enquirer is already camped out on Manti’s doorstep, along with a horde of other media wanting to know the truth.

Because we need the truth!

Oh, yes, there are these other issues that are facing us. Surely spin-meisters in both the Obama and NRA camps are wondering how their gun control battle is taking a back seat to this story. And I’m sure members of the county council are quite pleased that they’re not being asked to voice their opinion as to which way they’re leaning in regarding to knocking smokers out of the bars, bowling alleys, restaurants and casinos that currently allow them to smoke ’em if you got ’em.

That’s the way mass media and social media work these days. It’s a literal feeding frenzy on the story of the moment. It is tweeted, facebooked, blogged about (yes, I’m adding to the noise) broadcast and simulcast so that the story reaches every nook and cranny.

People who have never heard of Manti Te’O have heard of him now. I’m sure reporters are knocking on his dad’s door, asking to hear more about when Lennay Kekua made her visits to Hawaii. Apparently dad never met her – which should come as no surprise since she didn’t exist. I just read about the latest internet fad, taking your picture with your arm around an imaginary girlfriend. It’s called ‘Teoing’. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/teoing-is-the-hot-new-int_n_2495787.html

Two days ago, Manti was no more than a blip on the cultural radar. Today, his story is bigger than Obama vs. the NRA.

This wasn’t possible five years ago, much less fifty. And it makes you wonder where our society is heading. The feeding frenzy that is the media will quickly grow tired of this story and some new revelation or scandal or natural disaster or horrible tragedy will happen and Manti will quickly become an afterthought.

I believe our society is developing the attention span of a gnat and that is in large part due to the instant everything, throw out the old news and give me something new mindset that is largely brought about thanks to the enormous power of the Internet. To think that we owe it all to Al Gore.

Remember Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair? That seems like ages ago.

Little did we know that he was merely Teoing.

General Halftrack from the Beetle Bailey comic strip had a common expression that seems to apply to today’s world.

“Now what?”

We’ll find out in a few days.




Smoke gets in your eyes

Today’s the day that councilman Mike O’Mara put forward his new proposal to end all the exemptions to the St. Louis county smoking ban.

If approved by the county council, that would knock out the exemptions that more than 130 different establishments have permitting smoking – with the two biggest exemptions currently in place being the Hollywood Casino and River City Casino. Meanwhile, Ameristar and Lumiere are drooling at the prospect of more smokers flocking through their entryways, ready to smoke and gamble the night away.

Is this fair?

Smokers have become true outcasts in society, forced to stand out in the rain or in garages at work to get their nicotine fix. The price of cigarettes to me is extraordinary. I just can’t see how people continue to buy when a pack of cigs costs you $5.58 here in the great state of Missouri. In New York, it’s more than $11 a pack.

Missouri always seems to be near the top of the wrong lists. We’re #3 in the number of adult smokers, trailing only Kentucky and Nevada (maybe there’s some correlation to smoking and gambling). I was glad to see that at least we’re not in the top ten with regards to meth use. Still, we’re a state filled with smokers and a lot of those smokers who reside in St. Louis county are not going to be happy if their few remaining options to smoke and drink and maybe eat a bite or two or pull a few slot handles are taken away.

Is this fair?

During my college days, it seemed like everybody smoked. When I started my first job, the president of our agency was notorious for having a Salem always lit and burning down to the end while he talked. I can remember a few meetings where I would completely forget whatever it was that was being discussed as I would be focusing on his increasingly long grey ash that would dangle from the end of his cigarette, yet he never seemed to let it fall, always flicking it just in time to have the ashes drop into the nearest ashtray.

But that was long ago. These days, I actually detest the smell of cigarettes. I don’t mind people who smoke. That’s their decision. But I don’t like to be around them when I’m eating. And I’ve got to admit, I’m not a big fan of pulling up a seat at a video poker machine that’s right next to a smoker. (Though I have had a few cigars on occasion which I’d be more than happy to give up.)

I’ll always remember my last visit to the Alton Belle where it seemed like it was Senior Citizen night and everywhere I went, I was surrounded by smokers, many of them in their little wheeled contraptions with an oxygen tank attached and a cigarette dangling from their lips. It was not a pretty sight.

I’m sure some of the eating establishments that allow smoking (you have to have food sales total 25% or less of your combined food/beverage sales) will complain that they’ve put in expensive smoke eliminating systems that will now go to waste if smoking is banned. And perhaps fewer people will eat out if they can’t have that after dinner smoke to wipe away the taste of their meal. Then again, perhaps more people will eat out if they know they won’t have to breathe in second-hand smoke. I know we returned to Ice & Fuel after it became smoke free – we were literally smoked out a few years back and returned once the smoke cleared due to the new ordinance.

I certainly wouldn’t be against private smoking clubs where you have to be a dues-paying member to get in. That way, the smokers could be among their fellow smokers and everyone could smoke to their heart’s content. And if one of the casinos wanted to open a smokers only off-shoot where you had to pay to belong but you could go there and gamble and smoke ’til your lips fell off it would be fine by me. But both of those examples would be very hard to regulate – and if you’re allowed to open your own smokers club, who knows what type of other specialty clubs might suddenly spring up?

So I guess it really is time to kick the smokers out of public restaurants and casinos.

Is that fair?

Maybe not.

But who ever said life was fair?




Why the NFL rules television airwaves

The NFL Divisional playoff games kick off in a few hours to continue the march to the Super Bowl and across America, viewers will be parking their respective behinds in front of the tube, ready to catch all the action and drama.

Try as Hollywood might, they simply cannot come up with a formula that can top the NFL. The viewers who tune in each week to catch the action prove it as 31 of the 32 most watched TV programs since Labor Day were telecasts of NFL games. Baseball may still call itself America’s game, but make no mistake, the NFL rules in America. So why is that?

There’s the Continuing Central Characters that are crucial to a show’s success – the NFL certainly has them. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers – all will be performing this weekend. There are new plot twists and turns every week with certain people being injured or coming back from injury or going up against their nemesis. There are violent hits, incredible catches, amazing runbacks. There are controversial calls, all caught on replay. And it’s all real. In fact, this is reality TV at its best. It’s not scripted. It can’t be predicted. And it’s far more interesting tuning in each week than American Idol, Biggest Loser or America’s Got Talent combined.

The only non NFL program that made Nielsen’s list was Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade that pulled in 22.4 million viewers for NBC. Parades are fun to watch but you pretty much know what you’re going to get. With the NFL, anything is possible and as teams are knocked out during the 3 week play-off period, more and more eyes turn to these games until the television behemoth that is the Super Bowl arrives.

I love the Super Bowl. I love the commercials that make their debut on the Super Bowl. I love viewing them all again on Monday, love the fact that YouTube has them all packaged together and ready for viewing again so I can see the commercials that I missed because I was busy getting some cheese dip at the annual Super Bowl party we attend.

It’s overhyped, over-commercialized and it’s generally the highlight of the television year. It’s violence and excess and unexpected twists and turns that make it must see TV. It’s great announcers and sideline reporters and cheerleaders and football pools and interoffice betting and Vegas lines and when you put them all together, the television industry is thrilled to have this monstrosity that is the NFL to still attract viewers when the entire industry has been fragmented and cheapened by a plethora of poor programming on a seemingly endless array of networks.

Sorry Honey Boo Boo. The NFL has come to play.

Kickoff is in one hour and I am signing off and tuning in.


That’s my Super Bowl prediction.

What’s yours?

Are these the funniest TV commercials of 2012?

Does humor still sell in TV commercials?

Yes. And no.

Mass media advertising continues to shrink as more and more advertisers find that they can better reach their audience via the internet. Last Thursday, Tru TV had a special on the funniest TV commercials of 2012. I was going to watch it but had something else going on so instead I recorded it. Once the NFL wrapped up its wild card games on Sunday, I decided to watch, knowing that I could skip all the commercials during the break so that I could watch the commercials on the show. Ironic isn’t it? Overall, either I’m becoming harder to entertain or these commercials simply weren’t that funny.

Maybe it was just me.

I’ll let you judge for yourself. Here’s their list along with links and my droll comments that have very little humor built into them as well.

1. Fallsview Casino Resort – “Coconut” (Canada) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB0HfrdCZYc A quick case of amnesia caused by a coconut. Easily forgettable. Hardly laughable. I could think of many spots right off the top of my head that are funnier than this one.
2. Fed Ex – “Band” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmguXOPc9VI BBDO out of New York has been making great FedEx commercials for a while. This one didn’t make me laugh but it is funny. And I enjoy watching it numerous times which makes it a great commercial in my book. Plus, I love golf and it deals with the subject matter of shipping golf clubs in a completely unexpected way. I like it better than the one with the guy with the shrinking machine.
3. Canal Digital – “The Man Who Lived in a Film” (Norway) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqT_I4vS6OQ This commercial is growing on me – now that I’ve seen it a few times. It’s very well done and has a little bit of everything in it. I’m not sure that it’s funny but it’s definitely good and a great positioning. If you have the time and you’re in that YouTube mode, Canal Digital has all kinds of great commercials. It’s kind of like reviewing all the Skittles commercials that have been done through the years. The bar is set high and they need to keep topping it. Speaking of Skittles – they’re not on this year’s list. Their ongoing ‘Taste the Rainbow’ campaign goes in my TV commercial Hall of Fame.

4. Doritos – “Sling Baby” (United States) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2kQFEjkhBQ A grandma and a baby in a sling. The casting in this commercial of the brat kid and the grandma both seemed off. But I like the baby. I didn’t really find this to be very funny and this is one where if you see it once, you really don’t need to see it again.

5. BGH – “Dads in Briefs” (Argentina) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwrZzk-45Jk This one is well-produced – the black & white aspect makes it seem classic and the little girl who thinks twice about the channel changer is a great shot. Good pay-off at the end. I guess this is funny. I know it’s memorable but in reality, it’s a pretty generic selling message and I bet did very little for the brand.

6. Old Spice – “Bounce” (United States) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvYP_d2S1Pg Wieden & Kennedy – everything you do is good. Everything. You make me jealous. You make me want to do great things. The first time I saw this commercial on TV, I laughed – because of its crazy, unexpected, wildness. And now, I believe in my smelf (even though that’s a different tag line from the commercial shown).

7. The Trainline – “Be Sensible” (United Kingdom) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6hRfpN6mZg I watched this spot and I felt like I was watching Airplane. Same basic concept. Funny but so over-the-top that it felt more like a rip-off than something truly original. There are some fun scenes that make it worth watching a few times.

8. Zona Jobs – “Grandma” (Argentina) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig7b0l6zm0M This one ran in Argentina. No way it could ever run in the U.S. I know it’s tongue-in-cheek but I just don’t like seeing poor Grandma getting gunned down by bank robbers. Unexpected – but not in a good way.

9. Bloeman – “Screwed” (The Netherlands) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMOGBIewd4M I guess you have to be totally over-the-top to be funny. Not really. Again, I think this commercial goes a bit too far, particularly with the opening scene.

10. DB Export Dry – “Wine Is Over” (New Zealand) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whxGbHbY2bY Here’s another one that just didn’t strike me as funny. Maybe it’s a New Zealand thing.

So that was the show that I watched. Were these the funniest commercials made on the planet in the year 2012? Probably not. Of these, my two favorites would have been The Man Who Lived In A Film and the Heavy Metal Golfers for FedEx.

Of course a commercial doesn’t have to be funny, to be good. In fact, humor is one of the hardest things to pull off in 30 or 60 seconds and still have it be relevant to your key selling proposition. Congrats to all who try it. Let’s hope that 2013 brings us some great commercial moments – many of which will be featured in less than a month on this year’s Super Bowl.

Happy viewing and feel free to add in your own favorites.


10 New Year’s resolutions for 2013

Now that we’re three days into the new year, perhaps many of you have already broken your New Year’s resolutions.

Here are 10 more New Year’s resolutions that you can break in the coming weeks and months.

1. Resolve to clean out your emails and reduce your inbox. I could be considered an email hoarder. I have emails going back more than a year. Sure I could open a file and save them. I could just as easily delete them and plan to do so with a daily email purge of 100 or more of my saved and sent emails until I’m back below 100 again. Get ready delete button. You’re in for a rough ride.

2. Resolve to reach out to at least one friend from your past once a month. And don’t do it via email or Facebook. Pick up the phone. If they’re in town, arrange to meet. I’ve lost track of so many high school and college friends but every time we re-connect, it’s been a great experience. It’s so easy to drift apart – but it’s just as easy to re-connect. Do it.

3. Resolve to begin making a daily to-do list, as well as a weekly to-do list. There’s a certain sense of accomplishment you feel when you cross something off that list. Writing this blog post was on my to-do list for yesterday and it got pushed to today. But it’s soon to be crossed off and it’s on to the next accomplishment. (Not that I’m calling what you’re reading here any sort of accomplishment.)

4. Resolve to read one more book this year than you did last year. For some of you, that will mean reading a book. That’s okay. For others, it’s continuing a great habit because a good book is time well spent – whether you read it on a Nook or a Kindle or the old-fashioned way of immersing yourself in a true page-turner. If you’re really adventurous, read a book relating to your industry. If you always read fiction, try an autobiography.

5. Resolve to see at least three or four of the Oscar winning films of last year – look a little deeper than best picture. Have you seen the best documentary? (Undefeated) How about the movie that won best director? (The Artist) Or best visual effects? (Hugo) That’s three movies I haven’t seen right there. Of course, I didn’t get out much last year but now they’re all probably available on Pay-Per-View.

6. Resolve to set aside a minimum of 15 minutes a day, every day to speak to a family member without the TV on, a cell phone or laptop open and no distractions. Fifteen minutes sounds measly and it is. Set your own total and see if you can maintain it. Too often, it’s easy to be distracted by other things around us. Focus on your family. You’ll be glad you did.

7. Resolve to exercise in some way, shape, manner or form. I’m somewhat of a workout fanatic. But not everyone is. Take the steps. Park a little further away. You’ve heard all this before. In fact, forget I even mentioned this one. You know what you need to do and some silly sentence in the middle of a blog isn’t going to change your mindset anyway.

8. Resolve to wake up 15 minutes earlier four times a week. Get a jump start on your day. Create that list. Eliminate those emails. You’d be surprised what that combined extra hour of awake time can do for you. You won’t miss the sleep – and if you do, that’s what Saturday afternoon naps are for, anyway.

9. Resolve to learn something new that will lead to greater productivity – whether it’s for work or around the house or whatever your favorite hobby or passion happens to be. I continue to explore inDesign and photoshop. I should sign up to take a class. In fact, I should resolve to take a class. What new thing can you learn?

10. Resolve to begin following this blog by filling in the little box in the top right that says Follow Blog via email. I admit, you’ll have more emails to delete so I could be part of your problem. And I may detain you from reading a book, spending quality time with your family, contacting an old friend, exercising or seeing one of those Oscar-winning films. I only post about twice a week though, so if you’re getting up 15 minutes earlier four times a week, you’ll still have plenty of time to spare.

If you’re going to try any of the above, I highly recommend #6 and #2. The rest … well, do as you please.

Happy New Year or as I like to refer to it, Happy Lucky ’13.