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Super Bowl ads: Lessons you can learn about branding

Less than 24 hours after watching the Super Bowl and its blitz of ads, here is a little pop quiz.

First, the questions. Answer both the brand and product if you can!

  1. Which car company wants you to know about the 10-year warranty with a little help from 50-year-old MVP Brett Favre?
  2. The story of a boy's path to manhood (starting at conception) was supposed to sell you what new product?
  3. What beer does Lance Armstrong drink?
  4. Troy Polamalu was a "groundhog" of sorts for what product?
  5. Toys go on a joyride, with a sock monkey sporting a new sewn-own "tattoo." What car were they selling?



And here are the answers. How many did you get right?

  1. Hyundai
  2. Men's soap from Dove
  3. Michelob Ultra (If you said "Michelob" only, it doesn't count!)
  4. TruTV
  5. a Kia Sorrento


If you didn't answer 5 out of 5 correctly, the advertisers failed. The problem with a grand event like the Super Bowl, is that even though many people watch specifically to see the commercials, they might remember the premise of the ad, but the message and even the brand often get lost.

The lesson all companies can learn (for a lot less than $2,000,000) is that ads need to have the product or service clearly defined. Cute, clever or visually amazing ads won't deliver results if consumers don't register what the product was. As tempting as it may be to try something "different" to stand out from the clutter, tried and true rules of advertising should usually win out.

Tell the consumer who the company is and what the product or service is. Then show one or two features and benefits. Include a call to action and give out some contact information, whether it is a phone number, address, or URL. Show the company logo.

These rules seem simple enough, but because they are so simple, they are often forgotten. Get back to basics to give consumers a clear brand message. Leave the flashy and cute ads to the big Super Bowl advertisers, who benefit from media coverage after the game to remind people what they were trying to sell.


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