Touch Down – Super Bowl hits & misses

It’s very difficult for standup comedians to maintain their edge once they become super stars. It’s not that they stop being funny people, or lose their stage mojo, it’s that they often lose touch with their audience. It’s hard to relate to ‘the people’ once you drive a Ferrari and live in a mansion. Their stories and anecdotes become distant, even foreign. The same thing happens to successful companies and it’s happening to Meta.

This week the Super Bowl happened in the USA. The capstone event of not just American Football, but advertising. At US$7 million for 30 seconds – it’s quite an investment. Despite US centricity, it also serves as a barometer for technology and the global economy. You can see all the ads here.

As expected we saw adverts for snacks, beer and automobiles. The latter was all about our all electric car future. In the US, electric cars are 9% of sales, yet they are getting close to 100% of the attention. By my reckoning, we’ll all be driving electric long before government regulations make it mandatory. There was even an advertisement for an electric car charger! In Australia alone, this install market is a AUD$40 billion opportunity (20m cars @ $2000 per charger). And yes, every car will have its own charger.

Dropping the ball

Big budgets doesn’t always translate to great stories. Two of the tech titans, Meta and Amazon, had terrible advertisements. Their ads felt like public service announcements of why we need to be suspicious about them. I’ll start with Meta. If you haven’t seen their Super Bowl advertisement already, watch this, and I’ll see you in 60 seconds….

Here’s my outtake:

“When the real world really blows – just sub into the metaverse”.

Is that a subliminal message from the Zuck himself? Is he admitting his contribution to the decline of civilisation? It seems his most loyal lieutenants didn’t have the courage to tell him he’s lost touch.

Now onto Uncle Jeff’s empire, Amazon. Their ad, which can be seen here was unironically called Mind Reader. It features Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost using their Alexa. This one is kinda real, and even a little funny, but mostly unsettling. While the device can’t quite mind read yet, the biggest fear most people have about always-on, always-listening devices like Alexa is that the system is gathering far more personal information than we want. Another great antidote to buying what they are actually selling.

If you ever wanted a clear idea, then Coinbase delivered. While they are not about to win any story telling or creative awards for this piece, it was very clever. Running a floating QR code for 30 seconds at a cost of US$7 million has to be the most single minded marketing proposition of all time…. and people took action. It had a whopping 20 million hits within 1 minute. A twenty percent success ratio – unheard of in advertising in the modern era.

The Touchdown!

For me the touch down went to Salesforce. Their ad took a shot across the bow of their technology brethren. While every other tech firm and billionaire seems to be trying escape from the messiness of earth to mars or the metaverse – Salesforce had this message. Brilliant.

One of the most promising brand plays today is to tell people how and why you don’t act like big tech. There’s a real movement against them, and it’s gathering pace. It’s going to be a long war before we get back our data, our humanity and long needed regulation – but in the interim, not doing many of the things they do, and telling people about it can be a bankable strategy.

– – – –

Keep thinking,