The Lost Weekend.
This week the business and marketing trade press started telling us about the 30-second spots that will run during this Sunday’s Super Bowl game. On Monday, they’ll start briefing us on the “winners and losers.” And along the way there will be much tut-tutting about how terribly expensive it all was.
And it will all be, of course, completely beside the point.
I’d like to say that this retro-celebration of ad-craft has all the relevance of the Red Army marching and parading their rocket launchers and tanks through the Kremlin every May Day. I’d like to say that, but in fact the Russians faced up to their changing reality several years ago, and toned down their act accordingly. Madison Avenue is a little slower on the uptake. So we are still treated to the wretched excess wrought by out-of-control egos and the large scale abandonment of marketing strategy. (Did Betty White sell even one extra Snicker’s bar last February? And — really? — another truck ad? Really?) Like the season premiere of Madmen, the Super Bowl ad parade lets us all believe that advertising really is still creative and — darn it — sexy too!
I do think there’s one interesting phenomenon that plays itself out with each Super Bowl: digital brands and technologies take a shot at defining themselves. In the mid-late 90s we saw evanescent brand novas like Pets.com spend all their Monopoly money on one big spot. Fast forward ten years and Go-Daddy.com thumbs its nose at the entire spectacle with its wink/nod bimbo spots — and ends up being probably the only super bowl advertiser to really cash in on its investment each year. Last year of course we got that lovely Google spot, which of course let the up-till-recently-comatose learn that Google is a pretty neat company that helps you find stuff. This year: the Social Bowl! We get to see how this year’s crop of hopefuls leverage social media platforms and technologies to create lasting connections with consumers….or, at least, a few extra conversations.
As for me, I’ll be just as happy when the whole sideshow wraps for the year. Then we can get back to building the future of marketing, unencumbered and undistracted.