With this year’s crop of commercials, there actually weren’t too many that fell into the ‘bad" category – the commercials were either pretty good or really terrible. But I did manage to find a few that I wasn’t happy with.
The first one on my list will surprise many people, because it made a lot of "good" lists and seemed to be a popular favorite:
Snickers: The Brady Bunch
I really hated this commercial – and maybe that’s due in part to my general dislike for the Brady Bunch. It was just never a favorite show of mine.
But I think it’s mainly due to the hype. Since most of the commercials were released before the Superbowl, a lot of people had seen them already. And this, like the Budweiser commercial, was hyped as being one of the best ads of the game. I just don’t see it.
Yes, Snickers stays true to their recent branding with the idea of "you’re just not you when you’re hungry." And yes, they use humor by having Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi play the two sisters when they’re hungry. But it just missed the mark for me.
The lesson for lawyers? Be careful of hype. While there were still a lot of people who liked this commercial, I (and if the comments on YouTube are to be believed, a number of others) weren’t overly thrilled with it. You can overbuild excitement around something and actually irritate people.
Building just the right amount of excitement around something you’ve written, an event you’re speaking at, etc. is a delicate tightrope walk – if you don’t do enough, the right people may miss it all together. But if you do too much, you may either alienate people before they have a chance to experience it, or set yourself up to never live up to expectations.
Chevrolet: 4G LTE – Cable Out
This ad was indeed perfectly timed to seem as if the cable had gone out just as the game was about to get underway. I had friends say on Facebook that they thought the cable actually had gone out for a moment.
I was watching the game with my parents, and as my mom pointed out, your first thought isn’t going to be "Oh, let’s run to the truck!" when the cable goes out.
Maybe if the power goes out, sure. But if it’s just the cable, let’s be honest – you’re hooking up your laptop to the big screen and streaming the game that way. Chevy really spent $4 million to miss the boat?
Do people want to buy pickup trucks? Sure, and Chevy managed to put out an effective ad for them too (some people say it’s sexist, but it gave me a chuckle because hey, it’s true). But people don’t want to buy pickup trucks to stream the game because their cable went out.
If they wanted to sell the wifi feature, show someone stuck in their truck for one reason or another, and not able to get home to watch the game – THAT would have been effective.
The lesson for lawyers? If you have something that people want and need, make sure you understand the scenarios in which they will want and need it as well. This was a square peg, round hole type of thing – Chevy has wifi in their trucks, and they want to sell that. So they thought, hey, Superbowl = what if the cable goes out = people will automatically want to go right to their trucks to watch the game.
What’s the old adage? If you go to a surgeon, they’ll always advise cutting. If you ask a truck company how to solve your lack of cable problem, they’ll tell you to sit in your truck with wifi. Silly.
Make sure that you’re not doing the same thing for your clients – there are times when your expertise CAN solve the issue at hand, but it doesn’t mean that it SHOULD solve it. Look for the best solutions for your client, and you will always be the advisor they come to.
Nissan: "With Dad"
Oh dear, this ad.
They meant well, they really did. But the subtle message here is that this is the car for the dads who aren’t there for their kids.
Definitely doesn’t make you want to buy one, does it?
Some people have pointed out that maybe the message is to stop racing through life to appreciate the short time we have with our loved ones, but I think it’s a stretch based on the execution.
The lesson for lawyers? It’s an important one – ask yourself, "what am I really saying?"
And this is across the board – I know many people get spooked by the word "marketing," but all it is is the way you tell people who you are. That is everything from your business card to the way you shake hands to how you speak to people to the tone of your emails all the way up to your bio, firm website, blog, etc.
We’re often so close to the "product" (ourselves) that we don’t realize the message that we’re communicating with our words and actions, even our appearance. So ask yourself – what is it that I want clients and potential clients to know about me, when:
- They meet me in person
- They see my office
- I hand them a business card
- We go to lunch and I choose the restaurant
- They visit my website and social media profiles
- We speak on the phone
Find someone you trust, let them know the message you’re trying to communicate, and check with them to ensure that you’re delivering on that message. Companies like Nissan will do it with focus groups for ads such as these – clearly someone either ignored those groups, or the groups got it wrong here, but in either case, it’s worth having someone removed from the product (you) to let you know if you’re being effective.
Next week, we’ll be back with the "Ugly" of this year’s Superbowl Ads. And they’re a doozy!