Yesterday’s post sparked some great conversations on social media with regard to what everyone thought about various commercials – in particular one that I’ve included in today’s "pretty good" category. It’s been great to hear legal marketers weigh in on these, so let’s keep the conversation going!
I’ve got five commercials on today’s "pretty good" list, and I’ll both go into why I like them, and why they don’t make it to the "really good" list.
The Pretty Good
Ram Trucks – Farmer
For many people, this commercial was a favorite:
Was it well done? Absolutely – slick, beautiful, and honoring some great Americans. However, I just wasn’t as touched by it as some people were – it definitely didn’t bring tears to my eyes, or a chill to my skin. I’m not sure if that’s because I didn’t identify with it, while others did, but it didn’t hit me hard enough.
This commercial was one of the one that sparked some interesting discussion yesterday. Someone pointed out that values-based advertising such as this can be risky, and I agree completely – I said that I think we’re pretty polarized as a nation these days, so whichever side we come down on, we transpose those thoughts onto an ad which even hints at one or the other and either champion it, or villianize it, and I’m not sure that either of those is good for the brand.
Plus, strictly from a brand sales point of view, the commercial isn’t clear until the very end as to what its selling – trucks (and why it’s selling them – because there’s a "farmer" in all of us – is there?). Unlike the Jeep ad, there’s no thread of Dodge trucks throughout the spot that makes it clear that it’s a car commercial. Everyone even refers to it as the "farmer" ad, not the "Dodge" or even "truck" ad. So while it’s a beautifully made commercial, it just misses the mark for me.
Kia Space Babies
This was another ad that I think people weren’t overly thrilled about, but I actually liked it:
I’ll tell you why – sure, it starts out pretty strangely, with the idea of babies coming from outer space (though, haven’t we all scrounged for the right, age-appropriate answer to this question?). What sells it for me is the child starting to ask about the story he heard from his friend about the truth of where babies come from, and his father cutting him off with a quick instruction to the car to play "Wheels on the Bus." That funny piece turned it from just a weird commercial to something funny. It’s also a hit with me because it subtly sells the product – they’re riding in the car throughout the commercial, and without being obnoxious, the father uses the conversation changer to highlight a feature of the car to us.
It’s not a full win though because the babies in space part is still pretty weird – maybe not the idea of it, but the execution.
Skechers Man Vs. Cheetah
I’ll admit it, I like this commercial:
It’s smart and unexpected, and without being pushy, offers you the subtext that Skechers make you faster. As a runner, Skechers aren’t the first brand I’d think of when looking for a running shoe, but this commercial helps to reinvent them a little bit with that goal in mind. Smart. I also can’t resist the gazelle’s wink back at the runner.
What makes this not a full win for me is the obviously computer assisted runner – I mean, we all know he’s not really that fast, but there’s a bit of a disconnect in the lighting, etc. that makes it much too fake looking in a world where CGI is impeccable these days. It just feels that maybe they skimped a little, which you certainly shouldn’t do when you’re paying so much for a Superbowl ad.
Taco Bell Old People
This was another favorite:
I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love the idea of a group of elderly people sneaking out after curfew and partying till dawn? Brilliant move by Taco Bell to use Fun’s "We are Young" in Spanish as the soundtrack for the spot – communicating the cultural identity of the brand, while underscoring the message of the ad. It’s funny, clever and different.
It’s not a full win because it’s not readily apparent what the ad is for until well into it, but let’s be honest, Taco Bell’s target market really is that post-partying crowd (of any age, apparently!), so this ad nails that audience perfectly.
Hyundai The Team
Here’s another underdog spot:
I don’t know about you, but I was bullied as a kid in school, so this ad resonated with me – the idea of some snotty kid with all of his friends behind him giving the underdog some ridiculous benchmark to hit in order to be one of the "cool kids" is one that I’m familiar with. I love that his mom enables this by using her car (subtle sell again) to help him put his team together.
The ad might have been just a little heartwarming and a lot forgettable, were it not that all of the kids he recruits for his team are doing something a little crazy, like wrestling a bear, welding, saving someone from a burning building, etc. That makes it awesome. And of course, the bully loses in the end – a win for all underdogs everywhere.
The only reason it’s not a full win is an undefinable something missing, perhaps the ending being a little bit stronger.
Lessons for Lawyers
That brings us to our lessons for lawyers from today’s list of "pretty good" commercials:
- Values-based advertising: If you’re going to use value-based advertising or marketing in any way, you need to walk a careful line and understand that it may alienate some of your audience. This holds true for any discussion of politics, religion, etc.
- Subtle sales are better: Some of my favorite spots this year were those that threaded their product throughout the spot, and highlighted new or differentiating features, without being too obvious about it. People are smarter than we give them credit for, and it’s much nicer to see an ad that isn’t overly sales-y. With so many people having a not so favorable impression of lawyers, it’s even more important to make sure you don’t come across as being too sales-y.
- It’s okay to be clever: Many of the funny ads that I liked weren’t the ones that debased themselves – it’s possible to be both funny and smart in your marketing, which will appeal to more people than if you go for the cheap laugh. The law firms I work with are all full-service business firms, so cheap humor obviously isn’t their thing – but it is possible to be funny in a classy way.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the ads I didn’t like, and I’m saving the really ugly ones for Thursday’s post…I’m sure you can all guess which will end up in my hall of shame!