Watch the Top Five Super Bowl Commercials from the past fifteen years (yes, Feb. 3 marks the 16th anniversary of our coverage of your favorite Super Bowl Commercials – SuperBowl-ads.com)
Watch the Top Five Super Bowl Commercials from the past fifteen years (yes, Feb. 3 marks the 16th anniversary of our coverage of your favorite Super Bowl Commercials – SuperBowl-ads.com)
Final two spots purchased in year of quick commercial sales
By Jon Lafayette
Fox has crossed its goal line and sold the last of the commercials in the Super Bowl, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Usually there are a couple of spots remaining up until the weekend of the game, but this year sales have moved quickly.
There were only two spots left earlier this week, but an unidentified advertiser agreed to pay the $3 million Fox was seeking plus buy time in pregame programming.
Diamond Foods Makes Super Bowl History Featuring Two Brands in One Advertisement
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 21, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND), announced today that it will unveil a new, groundbreaking commercial featuring two of its snack food brands —- Pop Secret(R) Popcorn and Emerald(R) Nuts —- during CBS’s coverage of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida on February 7, 2010.
The Company has a reputation for creating award-winning, memorable ads with its trademark offbeat humor and has been challenging the status quo with a strong history of energizing categories and building brands. This year is no exception.
Diamond Foods will be making a splash with its ad featuring the World’s Most Flamboyant dolphin trainer standing on top of a volcano in the middle of a marine theme park. The commercial begins with the trainer whipping the crowd into a frenzy screaming “Let’s Get Aquatic!” The ad ends with the phrase “Awesome + Awesome = Awesomer.” How this relates to popcorn and snack nuts will be revealed during the second half of the game.
“We have used Super Bowl advertising very effectively over the years to drive broad awareness and growth of our Emerald brand,” said Diamond President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Mendes. “This year, we are leveraging our Super Bowl investment featuring both Pop Secret Popcorn and Emerald Nuts in one ad. This reinforces the fact that Diamond has two contemporary snack food brands in its portfolio well-positioned to serve a similar consumer demographic.”
Diamond is no stranger to making memorable ads that positively impact sales having produced award winning ads that aired during Super Bowls in 2005, 2006 and 2007. In each year, the Company experienced high double digit growth in sales following those games as it built the Emerald snack food brand that it launched in 2004. This year, Diamond is sprinkling its magic on Pop Secret Popcorn, the brand it purchased in 2008 and took full control of in February 2009.
Working with San Francisco based advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Diamond has achieved a first in Super Bowl advertising featuring two distinct brands side by side in one commercial.
“We have raised the bar for ourselves and really pushed the envelope to create a unique commercial,” said Andrew Burke, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Diamond Foods. “We are excited with the results and believe we have a memorable spot that will connect with our target audience and dramatically increase our off shelf promotional displays.”
Popcorn and snack nuts are a staple at Super Bowl parties. According to a study by The Integer Group, over 6 million pounds of popcorn and snack nuts will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
Diamond will be supporting the television ad with a robust marketing campaign that includes print and online advertising. The Company will run a print advertisement in USA Today and online ads the week before the Super Bowl on the websites of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. After the Super Bowl, the Company will utilize search advertising via Google and YouTube to drive consumers to its branded websites.
Since the middle of December 2009, Diamond has been reinvigorating the Pop Secret brand with its recently launched kernel campaign featuring animated kernel characters that are passionate movie lovers actively watching popular scenes from classic movies. Andy Allcock, Pop Secret Brand Manager added, “We have been receiving very positive responses to the ads. Consumers love them.” The Company has aired over 600 spots during the campaign.
Emerald snack nuts are the fastest growing brand in the snack nut category and have grown sales dollars almost 50% over the previous year.
About Diamond Foods
Diamond Foods (NASDAQ: DMND) is a leading branded food company specializing in producing, marketing and distributing culinary nuts and snack products under the Diamond(R), Emerald(R) and Pop Secret(R) brands.
Corporate Web Site: http://www.diamondfoods.com
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners Web Site: http://www.goodbysilverstein.com
SOURCE: Diamond Foods, Inc.
Richard Simonelli, 650-906-1022 (Media)
Diamond Foods, Inc.
Bob Philipps, 415-445-7426 (Investors)
VP, Treasury & Investor Relations
Historical Advertising Data Showcases Super Bowl’s Leading Spenders, Quadrupled Ad Rates and More Cluttered Air Time
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The escalating chatter surrounding Super Bowl XLIV is not just about the teams competing for the 2010 championship. The TV commercials that will appear during the game are also the subject of discussion and speculation. And participating advertisers will once again be confronted with the difficult question of whether the Super Bowl is a smart marketing investment or a wasted use of the budget.
TNS Media Intelligence has again combed through its extensive database to report on the past 20 years of Super Bowl advertising. From 1990 thru 2009, the Super Bowl game has generated $2.17 billion of network sales from a total of 210 different advertisers and more than 1,400 commercial messages.
“The Super Bowl remains a singular event for engaging the broadest number of consumers at one time,” said Mark Nesbitt, President, TNS Media Intelligence. “Because it is viewed live and experienced by a majority of the country at the same time, a commercial presence on the broadcast has great significance and impact for a brand, making each not so much a brand message as a brand event. It is why a presence on the broadcast lends itself so effectively to an integrated marketing effort.”
“As an advertising event, the Super Bowl has evolved beyond a vehicle for presenting expensive, stand-alone commercial spots that seek to entertain viewers and generate awareness,” said Jon Swallen, SVP Research for TNS Media Intelligence. “Increasingly, in-game spots are being supplemented by elaborate integrated communications programs that attempt to drive traffic online or in-store, generate positive social media discussion, incorporate public relations effort and ultimately achieve a strong ROI.”
Top Five Super Bowl Advertisers
The top five Super Bowl advertisers of the past 20 years have spent $783 million on advertising during the game, accounting for 36 percent of total advertising revenue. Anheuser-Busch and PepsiCo, which have appeared in every game during this period, lead the pack, followed by General Motors, Walt Disney and Time Warner.
|TOP 5 SUPER BOWL ADVERTISERS
# of Years With
|Top 5 Total||$||783.0|
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
Although Pepsi soft drinks will not be advertised in this year’s game, ending a 23-year streak, the PepsiCo parent company will still be represented by its Frito-Lay snack food division. General Motors will be absent from the game for the second year in a row. Prior to dropping out in 2009, GM had advertised in 11 of the previous 12 Super Bowls.
The Price of Advertising
The cost of a 30-second advertisement in the Super Bowl has more than quadrupled in the past 20 years and reached $3 million in 2009. The recessionary environment is expected to yield lower pricing for the 2010 game, with CBS reportedly selling 30-second units for between $2.5 and $2.8 million.
The amount paid by individual marketers will vary depending on where the ad runs in the game, how much commercial time is purchased and whether the advertiser opts for a larger package that includes spots in the pre-game and/or post-game coverage.
|SUPER BOWL ADVERTISING:
RATES AND REVENUE 1990-2009
Cost :30 Unit
Total Ad Revenue
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
First Time Advertisers
Since 2005, the annual Super Bowl ad lineup has had between 30 and 35 different companies. First-time advertisers are accounting for 20-25 percent of the ad roster. The ad time vacated by such long-time sponsors as FedEx, General Motors and Pepsi is being taken over by other companies eager for the recognition and brand-building opportunity of the Super Bowl stage.
The first-time advertisers in the 2009 game were Cash4Gold.com, Castrol, Denny’s, Teleflora and Vizio. For the 2010 contest, the rookie lineup is expected to include Electronic Arts and HomeAway, among others.
|NUMBER OF SUPER BOWL ADVERTISERS BY YEAR|
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
More Advertising, More Clutter
Over the past ten years, the volume of commercial time in the game has been edging upwards even as the price of advertising has become more expensive. The NBC telecast of the 2009 Super Bowl contained a record 45 minutes, 5 seconds of network ads. This included paying sponsors, commercial messages from the NFL, plus “house ads” aired by CBS to promote its own shows.
Source: TNS Media Intelligence
Top Super Bowl Advertising Categories
What kinds of products are most frequently advertised on the Super Bowl? The popular perception is that beer, soft drinks and autos are the prime ad categories, given their annual presence in the game.
Actually, the leader by dollar value is promotional advertising from the network itself. In a typical Super Bowl, 15-20 percent of all commercial time is a plug by the network for its own programming. In 2009, the value of this air time exceeded $42 million.
|Network Promotions In The Super Bowl|
% of All Ad
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
“The Super Bowl offers the host network an attractive platform to promote its upcoming programming and try to build an audience,” added Swallen. “In deciding how much ad time to keep for itself, the network has to assess the trade-off between giving up current revenue in the game versus building future revenue from its other programming.”
Over the past decade, the Super Bowl has attracted a bevy of different movie studio, automotive and dot-com companies, making them the most populous and competitive ad categories.
Number of Super Bowl Advertisers By Category
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
How Big is the Super Bowl Versus Other Sport Franchises?
The Major League Baseball’s World Series and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship are two other high profile sporting events that attract significant interest from TV advertisers. But how do these compare to the Super Bowl in terms of ad spend?
The World Series is four to seven games. March Madness peaks with the semi-finals and championship on its final weekend, a total of three games. The Super Bowl, of course, is a single telecast. In recent years, the Super Bowl and World Series have been running neck and neck in total ad spending. In 2009, baseball pulled slightly ahead as the Fall Classic went to a sixth game for the first time since 2003.
|MAJOR SPORTING CHAMPIONSHIPS
NETWORK TV AD REVENUE ($ MILLIONS)
|2005||$158.4||$146.9 (4)||$142.2 (3)|
|2006||$162.5||$160.8 (5)||$154.7 (3)|
|2007||$151.5||$156.6 (4)||$168.4 (3)|
|2008||$182.3||$176.2 (5)||$177.9 (3)|
|2009||$213.0||$223.6 (6)||$163.2 (3)|
|Source: TNS Media Intelligence|
About TNS Media
Established in more than 30 countries, TNS Media explores all media – print, radio, TV, Internet, social media, cinema and outdoor worldwide, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offers a full range of insights, analyses and audience measurement services.
TNS Media combines the deepest expertise in the industry to provide media and marketing intelligence including advertising expenditure monitoring, advertising creation monitoring, audience measurement, market influence analytics, online consumer behavior tracking, news monitoring, sports sponsorship evaluation and more. The TNS Media companies track more than 3 million brands and provide vital market intelligence to 16,000 customers around the world. For further information, please visit www.tnsmediagroup.com.
Kantar is one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 26,500 employees work across 95 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.
For further information, please visit us at www.kantar.com.
A Return to Dalmatians In Effort to Counter Bud’s Super Exclusive
By SUZANNE VRANICA
Miller is calling out the dogs again.
Beginning tomorrow and running through the Super Bowl, the brewer will blanket the airwaves with a new Miller Lite ad featuring a Dalmatian, a longtime mascot of its chief rival, Anheuser-Busch.
The spot shows a Dalmatian sitting on a couch watching an earlier Miller ad. After seeing the commercial, the dog leaps off the couch and runs down the street, where it’s joined by other Dalmatians, which scamper out of a barn full of Clydesdales (another reference to Anheuser). The pack of pooches follows a Miller truck that reads: “Miller Lite Has More Taste Than Bud Light.”
It’s not the first time a company has expropriated a competitor’s ad icons for its own commercials. But what makes Miller’s campaign different is the intensity of that effort. Its back-and-forth ad war with Anheuser goes back several years, and over that period Miller has borrowed for its own use not only Dalmatians and Clydesdales, but even sports referees, which Anheuser had used for a series of Bud Light commercials.
With its latest ad, Miller, a unit of SABMiller, is trying to undercut Anheuser during its biggest day of the year, the Super Bowl. Miller — unable to air its spot during the game because Anheuser has paid to be the exclusive alcohol advertiser — will air its new spot about 300 times across 30 other networks such as Walt Disney’s ESPN and Viacom’s Comedy Central. Miller plans to spend $2.5 million to $2.7 million on the spot in the four days leading up to the Super Bowl, according to a person familiar with the matter. After its Super Bowl blitz, the commercial will run well into February.
Miller will try to crash Anheuser’s party in other ways too: The brewer’s 425 distributors will be handing out Dalmatian pins and posters around the country, and it is sending “Miller Girls” and several Dalmatians to Glendale, Ariz., site of the Super Bowl, to mingle at parties.
While Miller clearly faces an uphill battle — Miller Lite has 8.4% of the market compared with Bud Light’s 19.3%, according to industry publication Beer Marketer’s Insights — some analysts believe Bud Light is more vulnerable than ever. “Bud Light is not growing as fast as it was” several years ago, says Mark Swartzberg, a beverage-industry analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.
The beer business is fast gaining a reputation for this kind of slap-each-other marketing. In 2004 and 2005, Miller spent much of its ad arsenal taking shots at Anheuser, and Anheuser responded with its own comparative ads. There was a brief lull, until last fall when Miller returned to that strategy, saying that its sales suffered in 2006 when it went back to playing nice. Anheuser didn’t come out slugging in the fall, but took more of a swipe at its rival with a full-page ad in some newspapers that read: “Keep up the bad work, Miller.”
The latest Miller spot riffs off its ad last fall, which showed a Dalmatian apparently changing allegiances by leaping from a Bud wagon onto a Miller Lite delivery truck.
“We recognize that in an election year there tends to be a lot of negative advertising, and we feel speaking to the quality and virtues of our brands will differentiate us in a cluttered advertising environment,” said David A. Peacock, Anheuser’s vice president of marketing, in a statement.
Miller believes its feisty approach is working. Sales for Miller Lite are up 1.2% since October, says Randy Ransom, Miller’s chief marketing officer.
While ad campaigns that are critical of the competition — or poke fun at it — are a common practice in the fast-food, beverage and other industries, hijacking a rival’s ad icon is somewhat rare, thanks in part to trademark laws. In this case, a Dalmatian is considered part of the public domain, and advertising lawyers say it would be tough to protect its use.
Deb Boyda, Miller’s vice president of content, says the brewer’s new ad “has a little competitive chutzpah.” That’s a bit of an understatement. Anheuser has used the Dalmatian in its ads for decades, and one of its seven Super Bowl commercials this year is expected to show a Dalmatian helping a Clydesdale horse live out his dream.
One big risk for Miller, of course, is that viewers could see the Dalmatian and simply think “Bud” instead of “Miller.” In fact, Anheuser is counting on it.
By Laura Petrecca, USA TODAY
On Sunday, National Basketball Association All-Star guard Dwyane Wade will try to lure Super Bowl viewers into becoming T-Mobile cellphone subscribers.
The ad extends a current series in which Wade tries to get into the “MyFaves” list of former NBA star Charles Barkley. With the “MyFaves” service, T-Mobile subscribers can select five favorite contacts — T-Mobile subscribers or not — and get unlimited calling to them.
Wade says he’s “pumped” to be on the world’s largest advertising stage: “Everyone knows that it’s one of the biggest days to be on TV.”
Last year, T-Mobile bought into the Super Bowl at the last minute and ran an existing ad featuring Barkley and Wade. This year, the wireless provider created a humorous ad just for the game, as well as a 60-second video featuring Wade and Barkley that it seeded on websites such as Google Video.
Wade’s T-Mobile connection is just one enterprise for his expanding brand name. The 26-year-old Miami Heat player, who’s been a GQ magazine cover model, also endorses Converse and Gatorade. His name is on sneakers (such as the Wade 3 from Converse), a mobile handset (the T-Mobile Sidekick 3 D-Wade Edition) and restaurants (D. Wade’s Sports Grills).
Even with his brand ambition, Wade says his immediate focus is to “concentrate on basketball and get my team on the right track.”
That’s a good thing for the Heat — winner of the 2006 NBA championship, but now struggling — and for Wade’s marketability.
The Heat’s slim chance of making this year’s playoffs, “puts a damper somewhat on (Wade’s) endorsement potential,” says Jim Andrews, editorial director at IEG Sponsorship Report. But if the Heat start winning again, Wade “can really take off.”
How Wade’s brand has expanded:
•T-Mobile ads. When T-Mobile launched its Barkley/Wade ads in 2006, it had to put Wade’s full name into the script so non-NBA fans would recognize him, says Bob Moore, chief creative officer at T-Mobile ad agency Publicis USA.
Now Wade stands on his own, Moore says. “He’s won his (NBA championship) ring already. Most people know who Dwyane Wade is now.”
•T-Mobile Sidekick. Wade took a personal interest in designing the D-Wade Sidekick. The white-and-gold mobile device is “our most popular limited-edition Sidekick,” says T-Mobile director of marketing Mike Belcher.
•Restaurants. The D. Wade’s Sports Grills in Florida will have “a lot of TVs around to watch the games, and big murals of me and other athletes,” Wade says. “Hopefully my fans — and people who aren’t my fans — will come out and enjoy the atmosphere.”
•Video game. Wade appeared on the cover packaging for EA Sports’ NBA Live 2006 game.
•DVD. Earlier this month, Warner Home Video released Undeniable: The Rise of Dwyane Wade, which chronicles Wade’s life. “The day it came out I had a signing at Wal-Mart and there were more people than I expected there,” Wade says. “It was great.”
•Gatorade ad. Wade will star in an ad for the new low-calorie Gatorade, G2, that will air during the Feb. 17 NBA All-Star Game.
NEW & NOTABLE
Give me a flat-screen and a big recliner.
The biggest winner out of Sunday’s Super Bowl might not be the New England Patriots or New York Giants. It might be the makers of TV sets and recliners.
Consumers plan to buy 3.9 million TVs to have a new screen for Super Sunday, up more than 50% from last year’s 2.5 million, according to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association’s 2008 Super Bowl Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. The online survey of 8,447 consumers by BIGresearch also found that game viewers plan to buy 1.8 million new pieces of furniture, up from 1.3 million last year.
Super Bowl marketers hoping to amuse game viewers may have to do a tough end-zone dance to make both men and women laugh. That’s a key issue because the audience’s gender split is about 60% male and 40% female. It’s hard to craft humor that appeals equally to both genders, says Carol Davies, partner at marketing consultants Fletcher Knight. “Men prefer one-liner jokes with a clear punch line,” says Davies, while women prefer subtler storylines that can be hard to tell in 15 to 30 seconds.
Some Ad-itude from Wasola, Mo.
The Ad Team is asking readers to weigh in on their favorite Big Game ads by e-mailing reporter Laura Petrecca.
Cindy Weldon of Wasola, Mo., says two Super Bowl ads stand out for her. Her top pick: a 2000 ad for tech giant EDS that showed cowboys trying to herd a horde of cats. “It was a hoot,” Weldon says. (Watch it at the link above, or click here.)
Her other favorite: Anheuser-Busch’s emotional Super Bowl 2005 salute to the troops. The ad showed travelers spontaneously applauding as military personnel walked through an airport terminal. “The look on the soldiers’ faces was amazing. They were appreciated, and everybody was behind them 100%,” she says.
By Tony Natale
Another dispute between Scottsdale’s Go Daddy Group and Fox television over a Super Bowl XLII commercial is over, although Bob Parsons, owner and founder of the world’s largest domain name registrar, is not very happy about it.
“I’m disappointed the network won’t approve another (rejected) commercial,” said Parsons, whose company has more than 26 million domain names. “It’s hilarious.”
Parsons will pay $2.7 million – $100,000 more than last year – to air a 30-second commercial titled “Spot On” featuring several actors, including Indy race car driver and Go Daddy Girl Danica Patrick, during the game Feb. 3.
The commercial for GoDaddy.com was approved by Fox after the network rejected 10 earlier submissions, Parsons said Thursday.
One of those rejected, titled “Exposure,” featured Patrick and included a robotic beaver.
Fox requested that the word “beaver” be removed, but Parsons said he refused.
“I think ‘Exposure’ is the funniest commercial we’ve ever made,” said Parsons.
He would not elaborate, but said the commercial “spoofs a certain pop culture celebrity phenomenon.”
Last year, Go Daddy paid $2.6 million to CBS for 30 seconds of airtime during the 2007 Super Bowl after several of its initially submitted commercials were also turned down.
The pattern of submission, rejection and final approval began in 2005 with Go Daddy’s first Super Bowl commercial, a parody on censorship involving a scantily clad model and a wardrobe malfunction, a snapped bra strap, that was yanked by Fox after its first airing.
The network’s censorship resulted in massive publicity for Scottsdale-based-Go Daddy as well as huge profits.
The company’s market share grew from 16 percent to 25 percent after the removal, the company said.
Go Daddy’s market share rose to 32 percent in 2006 and is at 42 percent of the world’s domain name market, according to the company.
Anheuser-Busch spent about $2.7M a pop on nine ads in this year’s Super Bowl – with seven of the spots devoted to Bud Light.The lineups are just about set for Super Bowl Sunday – not on the field, but for the glitzy, star-studded TV commercials that will cost close to $3 million apiece.
“The advertisers this year have learned how to do it,” says Walter Guarino, advertising professor at Seton Hall University. “They’ll keep it light and humorous, and I think it will be a real good year.”
Like Eli Manning and Tom Brady on the field, Super Bowl legend Justin Timberlake will lead a team of stars through 63 ad spots with an airtime tab that will run about $175 million.
As of Tuesday, Fox said it had one 30-second spot remaining for the telecast.
Neal Pilson, head of the consulting firm Pilson Communications, said the spot could sell for more than $3 million, topping the $2.7 million advertisers paid for most of the others.
The bonus, he said, comes from an attractive on-field matchup that should draw more than last year’s 93.15 million viewers.
Timberlake, whose 2004 Super Bowl dance with Janet Jackson produced the “wardrobe malfunction” that has chilled broadcast content ever since, will star in a Pepsi spot this year – as will Pepsi’s 60-foot “Gift Monster.”
Pepsi will be joined on the telecast by rival Coca-Cola for the first time since 1998.
Pepsi also will promote its new Gatorade G2 drink with Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade and Yankees captain Derek Jeter, while Frito-Lay’s Doritos hopes it’s rolling out a future star in the winner of its national band competition.
Unilever, one of the few advertisers targeting women, is going for maximum established star power by packing Madonna, Shakira and the late Marilyn Monroe into a 30-second spot for Sunsilk.
The biggest advertiser, as usual, will be Anheuser-Busch, which is drawing great pregame buzz for the spot in which a plucky horse named Hank chases his life-long dream of making the Budweiser Clydesdale team.
Bud Light will get seven of Anheuser-Busch’s nine spots, which Guarino says bodes well for this year’s Super Bowl ads in general.
“Bud Light spots have been really funny,” he says. “And that’s the right idea.”
For the wrong idea, he points to careerbuilder.com, which was praised in 2005 and 2006 for spots in which a man was stuck in an office full of monkeys, then roasted in 2007 for spots where office workers fought each other.
Careerbuilder fired its ad agency right after last year’s Super Bowl, which illustrates how critical this game is in the ad biz.
“It’s the most important showcase,” Guarino says. “You can debate whether it’s worth $2.7 million for one spot, but even if you could spread that money over other shows and get as many viewers, you won’t find anything else where 98% of the audience actually watches the ads.”
At least one ad this year is unlikely to be light. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has signed on again and is expected to deliver its usual somber warning that not all fun is good fun.
CareerBuilder.com caused a stir in the advertising world last year when it dropped its longtime agency after its Super Bowl commercial flopped. Marketers switch agencies all the time, but the move was unusual because the same firm had done two previous CareerBuilder Super Bowl ads that were huge hits.
This year, CareerBuilder will be back in action at the big game, with a new agency: the Portland headquarters of Wieden + Kennedy, which also makes commercials for Coca-Cola and Nike. CareerBuilder’s new spots will be closely watched by advertising executives — and not just because of last year’s drama. The site faces a challenge common to companies in many sectors, and the new ad campaign is an effort to address it.
A joint venture of Gannett, Tribune, McClatchy and Microsoft, CareerBuilder says it is the biggest company in the online job-search field in North America by several important measures, including total revenue and online traffic growth. Yet more consumers are familiar with its primary competitor, Monster.com, in part because Monster got into the market earlier. With its new ads, Chicago-based CareerBuilder is aiming to distance itself from Monster as much as possible, much as Adidas decided to make teamwork the theme of its ads in recent years because Nike had already staked out the message of individuality.
Monster’s current ads strike an idealistic note — the tagline is “Your Calling is Calling.” CareerBuilder, by contrast, takes an almost scolding tone in its new campaign. The company has several potential Super Bowl ads; it has bought two 30-second spots but hasn’t yet decided which ads will air. All feature people who are unhappy in their workplaces. In one ad, an animated firefly answers the call of a man who wishes he loved his job. As the two break into a musical duet, gazing at the stars, a spider hunts down the firefly, wrapping it in a cocoon as the music comes to an abrupt stop. “Wishing won’t get you a better job,” the ad says.
In another spot, a computerized image of a heart jumps out of a woman’s chest, holds up a sign that says “I Quit” in front of her boss, and then walks out of her office. The spot ends with the line: “Follow your heart.”
The campaign should be an “unapologetic slap on the head” to would-be job seekers to start the sometimes painful and long process of getting a new job, says Richard Castellini, vice president of consumer marketing at CareerBuilder. Part of the campaign is a new company tagline: “Start building.”
CareerBuilder will need increased consumer awareness over the next 18 months as it expands throughout Europe. In the U.S., the site’s goal is to get 25 million unique visitors a month, up from the current 23 million monthly unique visitors.
CareerBuilder’s last Super Bowl ad was the talk of the industry for months — and not because of the commercial itself. The company’s agency at the time was Cramer-Krasselt, which created widely praised 2005 and 2006 Super Bowl ads for CareerBuilder that featured monkeys running amok in an office. The ads spawned “Monk-e-Mail,” a viral marketing campaign that lets users dress a chimp, type a message and have the “talking” monkey deliver the e-mail to the recipient.
For last year’s Super Bowl, CareerBuilder and Cramer-Krasselt decided to run a different ad, which riffed off the idea that “it’s a jungle out there” and had office workers battling each other. That commercial didn’t make the top 10 in USA Today’s annual Ad Meter poll, though the ad helped drive traffic to CareerBuilder’s site the following day.
Soon after CareerBuilder put the account up for review in February, Cramer-Krasselt’s chief executive officer, Peter Krivkovich, took the unusual step of putting out a memo saying that the performance of the ad in the Ad Meter poll had prompted the move. Mr. Krivkovich slammed the company for the decision and said the agency wouldn’t participate in the review. CareerBuilder Chief Executive Matt Ferguson denies the Super Bowl poll was the sole reason the company switched gears.
Office shenanigans are a popular motif in the ads these days, with a wide range of companies doing Dilbert-esque riffs on workplace culture — so much so that Wieden even considered an ad campaign that took place outside the office. “The fact is, our consumers are in an office,” says Wieden Creative Director Mark Fitzloff. “I don’t know that we had much of a choice in the matter.”
The Super Bowl ads will kick off a national ad campaign for CareerBuilder that includes print, online and outdoor ads. The idea is to flash the tough-love message as workers go through their day. For instance, signs that commuters will see on their way to and from work have messages like “If you don’t like your job then maybe you should get another job.”
Online banners challenge users to “pick which best resembles your boss,” with options of animals such as a unicorn and a rhinoceros. The ads will run on Web sites that workers often browse during lunch or other breaks, such as gawker.com, deadspin.com and collegehumor.com.
Wieden also created several micro-sites, including the Personal Gruntledness Index, where users can answer questions about money, career and lifestyle to find their happiness level. The National Gruntledness Index allows users to compare their happiness status with that of other people in their industry and their geographic area. The data come from CareerBuilder.
Post-Super Bowl, CareerBuilder will concentrate its TV spots on programs that air on Sunday through Wednesday, which it says are the toughest days for workers who hate their jobs. On Thursdays and Fridays, it says, workers are looking forward to the weekend and aren’t as receptive to a message about changing jobs.
By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — Audi is betting it can rev up its image with a parody of rivals in a Super Bowl commercial backed by a Hollywood-size production budget.
The Volkswagen-owned carmaker is looking to crown itself as the new luxury auto brand. Audi’s first Big Game ad in 20 years features its new $109,000 R8 speed machine. It uses a send-up of an iconic scene from The Godfather to poke fun, without naming names, at luxury car rivals.
“We don’t look at this as a car ad as much as we look at it as a statement,” says Scott Keogh, vice president of marketing at Audi. “The message we want to send is between Old World and New World and say that Audi is the New World.
“The spot sets up old luxury as excessive extravagance. Audi is not about excess, it’s about substance.”
The ad opens on a silver R8 parked in front of a Beverly Hills mansion (a real home now on the market for $200 million). Inside, a scene from the violent movie unfolds — but it’s motor oil, not blood, that’s spilled. Film buffs will recognize actor Alex Rocco, who played Vegas kingpin Moe Greene in The Godfather. The words “Old luxury has been put on notice” appear before the R8 speeds out of the driveway.
Audi paid Paramount Pictures, which released the 1972 Oscar-winner, a licensing fee that it would describe only as ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million.
Audi.com’s about 35,000 registered users will get to see the ad first: It will be e-mailed to them on Super Bowl morning.
Audi will be competing with several car rivals for attention in the game. General Motors (GM), Toyota (TM) and Hyundai are in the game, Nissan (NSANY) and others are buying “spot” ads in individual markets. It also will be up against the fact that car ads in general, in any venue, tend not to be viewer favorites.
Audi’s admaker, Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, a Super Bowl rookie, took that into account.
“The fact that people don’t pay attention to auto ads unless they are in the market for a car is exactly the ammunition we used to do something different and provocative,” says Paul Venables, agency founder and co-creative director. “We have this slow, methodical open; it’s eerie and not a gag a minute. The light bulb is going to go off that it’s The Godfather. All those things contribute to a pause that’s going to deliver an entertaining story and brand message.”
The Audi brand already has a good story unfolding. Worldwide sales last year were up 6.5% from 2006, to 964,000. The R8′s limited production run of 700 for 2008 already is sold out, but Audi hopes the sexy flagship in the ad will burnish its brand image and drive sales of its more affordable luxury, such as the A4, starting at $40,000 and A5 at $50,000.
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Super Bowl viewers will be on the lookout for rookie mistakes — and not just on the field.
Advertising at the big game is a gamble for newcomers not just because of the rising cost of buying the ads — advertisers are paying up to $2.7 million for a 30-second spot this year, up from $2.6 million in 2007 — but also the risk to their reputations if the commercials fall flat or offend.
Under Armour’s Super Bowl spot may feature Nascar driver Carl Edwards.
As of yesterday, all but one of the 63 spots for the Feb. 3 Super Bowl XLII had been sold. In recent years, the lineup has typically included between six and 10 new advertisers, and News Corp.‘s Fox is expecting around 10 this year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Among the first-timers joining perennial Super Bowl marketers like PepsiCo Inc. and FedEx Corp. this year are athletic-apparel maker Under Armour Inc., online car sales site Cars.com and Unilever‘s hair-care brand Sunsilk, Procter & Gamble Co.’s Tide and Bridgestone Corp.’s Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire unit.
This year’s newbies, three of whom are using the event to launch campaigns, say they have a few tricks up their sleeves. Cars.com, for example, is using an ad team from Omnicom Group Inc.’s DDB Chicago that was behind many of the wildly popular Bud Light commercials. Under Armour’s 60-second spot, meanwhile, will feature sports personalities in extreme-training conditions, the company says. While the ad isn’t completed yet, images may include National Football League player Vernon Davis dragging a tractor tire, figure skater Kimmie Meissner leaping over exhaust pipes, or Nascar driver Carl Edwards doing lunges holding a cement block.
While the Super Bowl ads are inevitably rated on their creativity and cool factor, some marketers say those elements are less important to them than getting out their message clearly.However, over the years, plenty of companies have fumbled their Super Bowl advertising debuts. A 1999 spot for Just for Feet, a now-defunct athletic shoe and sportswear retailer, featured a band of mostly white commandos in a Humvee chasing a barefoot African man in the jungle and forcing him to wear Nike sneakers. The ad was labeled racist, and Just for Feet later sued the agency that created the spot, Saatchi & Saatchi. The next year, financial-services company John Nuveen ran a spot that, with the help of digital photography, showed paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve walking — an ad many viewers found unsettling.
Those ads came during the dot-com boom, when advertisers hungering to take their companies public were desperate to get Wall Street’s attention. One of the biggest years for new marketers in the Super Bowl was 2000, known in ad circles as the “dot-com bowl.” Among the rookies that year were AutoTrader, OnMoney.com, OurBeginning.com, Computer.com and Kforce.com. While many first-time Super Bowl advertisers return, many of the companies in the class of 2000 eventually went bust.
Today, fallout from an ill-conceived ad can be magnified by the growing number of polls that survey the public about ads and Web sites that critique commercials. That heightened scrutiny causes some advertisers to think twice about taking the Super Bowl plunge. “There are a lot of polls out there now, and advertisers don’t want bad press,” says Andy Donchin, director for national broadcast at Carat USA, a media-buying firm owned by Aegis Group PLC.
Another hazard for first-timers: being outshone by the veterans. Only a fraction of the dozens of ads that will air during the game will get any significant buzz the next day, and companies like Cars.com and Under Armour are competing against regulars like Anheuser-Busch Cos., who have Super Bowl ads down to a science. The brewer features 10 different spots during the game, all of which it tests via focus groups.
“It’s hard to outdo Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi,” says Bruce Vanden Bergh, an advertising professor at Michigan State University.
Still the big game is tempting to advertisers looking to launch products, kick off ad campaigns or introduce a new company name. It is the single biggest television event of the year, with 90 million viewers in the U.S., plus large numbers of people in 230 other countries and territories. In an age of audience fragmentation, companies have few such opportunities to reach large numbers of viewers in a single venue.
Some companies decide to advertise in the Super Bowl for the first time because they’re overshadowed by bigger players in their industry and want to address that imbalance. Others are diversifying and want to draw attention to that foray. Baltimore-based Under Armour made a name for itself in 1996 with its line of sweat-wicking performance apparel. Now it’s taking another shot at established companies like Nike and Adidas with its ad campaign announcing its entry into the cross-training shoe market.
Under Armour’s spot this year, which will air in the first quarter of the game, represents a sizable chunk of the company’s advertising budget, which was $16 million last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
“There is no bigger opportunity” than the Super Bowl, says Under Armour’s Chief Executive Kevin Plank. “This is a defining time for our brand,” he adds. “We are now ready to compete in footwear.”
Cars.com will use the Super Bowl to kick off an ad campaign that introduces the tagline “Confidence comes standard.” Its spot shows consumers going to a car dealership armed with research from Cars.com. The ads have a humorous surprise ending showing what the consumer would have done if he hadn’t had the Cars.com research.
Bridgestone, which is also sponsoring the game’s halftime show, had its agency come up with concepts for 140 different commercials, which Bridgestone narrowed down to three now being produced. The tire maker will select two spots to air during the game. The company says it is using ad formulas that have worked for other companies in the past: animals, humor and celebrities — in this case, Alice Cooper and Richard Simmons.
Tide is considering airing an old ad for its Tide to Go pen that shows a man interviewing for a job who is repeatedly interrupted by a talking stain on his shirt, according to people familiar with the matter. The spot won a Silver Lion Award last year at the annual International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France.
Meanwhile, Sunsilk is betting on Madonna, Shakira and Marilyn Monroe, showing images of the women while their music plays. The screen reads: “Some girls can’t wait to make life happen. Their hair tells their story.” After the Super Bowl, the company’s high-energy spot will be rolled out in 14 countries.
Some Super Bowl first timers have scored big. Monster.com debuted in 1999 with a hit ad featuring kids talking about what they wanted to be when they grow up. In 2006 Unilever ran an ad for Dove showing young girls talking about their looks that was widely praised for its emotional depth.
One of last year’s newcomers, Garmin Ltd., the maker of GPS devices, is coming back this year despite coming in low on some ad poll lists with an ad featuring a map that turned into a Godzilla-inspired monster. Reaction “was a mixed bag but it was still a success,” says Ted Gartner, media relations manager at Garmin. “As long as people are spelling our name right and still purchasing the Garmin units, it’s all good.”
THEY say time and tide wait for no man, but Tide has waited a long time to be advertised on the Super Bowl. Soon, Tide, the biggest detergent brand in America — sold by the biggest advertiser in America — will appear for the first time on the biggest day for advertising in America.
Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide, has bought time during the Fox Broadcasting coverage of Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3 for a commercial for the Tide to Go instant stain remover. The 30-second spot, by Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, part of the Publicis Groupe, is scheduled to appear in the game’s second quarter.
Procter joins two dozen or so marketers, both well known and would-be, that are paying Fox a record or near-record amount to run commercials in the game. The average cost of each 30 seconds of commercial time is estimated at $2.7 million, compared with $2.6 million for spots in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007.
Fox Broadcasting, part of the News Corporation, has sold all but one of the 63 30-second commercials that it plans to run in the game, a spokesman for Fox Sports, Lou D’Ermilio, said Thursday.
Demand for commercial time in Super Bowl XLII was strong even before the writers’ strike upended the prime-time schedules of the major networks and cast into doubt the fate of popular fare like “C.S.I.,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and the broadcast of the Academy Awards ceremony. As early as the end of October, Fox had only about seven of the 30-second spots in the Super Bowl left to sell. Usually at that time of year, there are two or three times that many slots still unsold.
One reason for that appeal is robust demand for commercial time in all sports programming, Mr. D’Ermilio said, on Fox or not. High demand during the Major League Baseball season last year continued through the spate of college football bowl games that ended Monday with the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Another reason for the ardor for Super Bowl spots is the magnitude of recent changes in the media marketplace. The Super Bowl is one of the few so-called big events that remain available to marketers eager to reach tens of millions of consumers at the same time; more than 90 million Americans typically watch each game.
“It’s the last bastion of mass marketing, with incredible reach,” said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer at Cymfony, a research company that is part of the TNS Media Intelligence unit of Taylor Nelson Sofres.
“If you’ve got to sell a lot of beer or chips, or you have something big to announce, it’s a great venue,” he added, despite steep costs that otherwise may be “really hard to justify.”
Viewers also respond to Super Bowl spots much differently than to commercials in most other TV shows.
Ever since a spectacular Apple commercial called “1984” turned up during the 1984 Super Bowl, consumers have come to expect superior commercials, stuffed with celebrities, special effects, surprise endings, hit music, anthropomorphic animals and other enticements to pay attention.
As a result, rather than change the channel or leave the room for a beer when the selling starts, the audience sticks around, talks about the spots the next day and even goes to Web sites like AOL and YouTube to watch them again.
At every Super Bowl party, there is usually someone “who says, ‘Shhhhhhh! Here comes this cool commercial,’ ” Mr. Nail said.
It is that buzz factor Procter is hoping to capitalize on.
“The Super Bowl is the one time you watch a show and don’t want to miss the commercial breaks,” said Suzanne Watson, Tide brand manager for North America at Procter in Cincinnati.
“Given the wide appeal for Tide to Go and the broad audience for the Super Bowl,” she added, “it’s a perfect fit.”
Tide to Go, which was introduced in 2005, is particularly fitting for a Super Bowl berth, Ms. Watson said, because of its properties as a quick stain remover.
“There are thousands of parties that night,” making Super Bowl Sunday “the biggest stain-based occasion of the year,” she added. “With Tide to Go right there, you don’t have to get up to clean your shirt or pants.”
One reason this year’s Super Bowl has become more desirable for Procter than Super Bowl X or even XX is the growing number of women who tune in the game. In some years, more women have watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars, a show with such potent female appeal that it has been nicknamed on Madison Avenue “the Super Bowl for women.”
Another reason is that Procter has started seeking Tide buyers beyond the traditional market of women, adding pitches aimed at men and students of both sexes.
The Tide to Go commercial will be supported by a wide-ranging marketing campaign, Ms. Watson said, that will include the Internet, public relations and promotions.
Such nontraditional elements “can really connect with consumers outside the laundry room,” she added, “and in their daily lives.”
Ms. Watson declined to discuss details of the campaign or the commercial because, she said, it was too soon.
The Tide to Go commercial is only Procter’s third in the Super Bowl. The first, for Charmin bathroom tissue, ran in 2004. The second, in 2006, was for Gillette, which Procter had acquired months before.
The initial Procter foray into the Super Bowl — in a commercial created by another Publicis agency in New York, Publicis Worldwide — drew mostly negative reviews. It was one of only two spots that Bob Garfield, the ad critic for the trade publication Advertising Age, slighted with 1.5 stars; he gave lower scores to just two spots and higher scores to 31.
“We haven’t been focused on how this TV spot will measure relative to others,” Ms. Watson said. “We just want to do the best in communicating with our consumers.”
Translation from marketing-speak: The pressure is on.
By Mike Beirne and Steve Miller
After a 20-year absence from the game, Audi will advertise during Fox’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLII.
Toyota, which advertised during this year’s game in February, will also return.
Audi will feature is $109,000 R8 roadster in a 60-second spot that will air during the first quarter, said Scott Keogh, CMO of Audi of America.
“We are going to keep our cards close to the vest until Super Bowl day actually arrives, because I think we have a dramatic message,” Keogh said.
Keogh said the execution, from Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, will “grab into the heart and soul of the American struggle and the American entertainment business,” but declined to go into details.
The ad’s only broadcast TV airing will be during the Super Bowl telecast Feb. 3. However, there will be teaser spots available online prior at AudiWorld.com and third-party sites, filled with subliminal messages and innuendo that Keogh hopes will prompt repeated viewings as consumers attempt to decode the secret meanings.
“We want this to explode on the Web and get people talking,” he said.
The R8 is a so-called “halo” car, designed to draw attention to the brand. It first hit dealerships in October. Audi sold 104 of the R8 that month, and 67 in November.
The spot will kick off a bid to position the brand as a top-tier luxury car on the biggest stage in advertising.
“It’s time for us to not only let the experts and aficionados know about Audi; we want America to know about Audi,” said Keogh.
Audi spent $67 million on advertising in 2006, and $21 million from January through September of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.
Meanwhile, Toyota has also confirmed that it, too, will advertise during the Super Bowl, although it declined to say which model will be featured.
“We are still waiting to see what will be the model,” said truck marketing manager Brian Smith. A rep for the company said that the new Sequoia SUV or the Tundra pickup were both in play, but “we’re still two months out so we have to see as we get closer.”
Toyota in the past has launched several vehicles and vehicle “refreshings” with Super Bowl spots, including the Tundra pickup this year and the Camry sedan hybrid in 2006. In 2005, Toyota promoted the Prius hybrid with a 60-second Super Bowl spot.
The chief executive of Chicago’s Cramer-Krasselt wasn’t monkeying around.
CEO Peter Krivkovich didn’t just drop the CareerBuilder.com advertising account in response to the job Web site putting the account up for review. Incensed at learning the review was spurred by the performance of CareerBuilder’s Super Bowl commercials in USA Today’s annual poll, Krivkovichtook the unusual step of writing an internal memo that tore apart the client his agency had spent the last five years building up.
“In our entire history, hell in the history of this crazy thing called advertising, I’m not sure there has ever been any thing as baseless or as unbelievable as that,” Krivkovich wrote in the memo, which was obtained by the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. “It’s so ludicrous and they are so serious about that poll it’s almost funny.
“Being floored would be an understatement. We can proudly take credit for their success. … Despite all the great work and making them famous, their sole reason is, at best, unsophisticated, unbusiness like and from the standpoint of how to run a business, unprofessional. They may not be the kind of people we should do business with. Therefore we can’t justify any reason to participate in a review and have just notified them accordingly. … We’re moving on!”
A Cramer-Krasselt spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the memo but declined to elaborate.
A spokeswoman for Chicago-based CareerBuilder, jointly owned by USA Todayparent Gannett Co., Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co. and McClatchy Co., would only confirm Cramer-Krasselt’s resignation and that the account is up for review.
With this year’s Super Bowl showcase, where CBS charged $2.6 million per30-second spot seen by an average of more than 90 million viewers, CareerBuilder turned its popular “Office Monkeys” campaign inside out. Rather than have a suffering office worker surrounded by monkeys, it placed officeworkers in the jungle. The company’s ads finished 16th, 27th and 28th out of57 spots tested by USA Today’s Ad Meter real-time consumer focus group.
CareerBuilder’s ads in the 2006 Super Bowl finished 12th and 13th in USAToday’s survey. Its Super Bowl commercials ranked Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in 2005.
During the five years Cramer-Krasselt has had the CareerBuilder account, the job site has gone from third in its category to surpassing Monster.com for first place in jobs posted, site traffic and revenue. Krivkovich’s memo says his firm helped drive up CareerBuilder traffic 43 percent and awareness by 64 percent even as Monster was outspending it.
Krivkovich also noted that, according to Nielsen, CareerBuilder enjoyed a 148 percent increase in site traffic after this year’s Super Bowl, the most of any advertiser in the telecast.
“To our amazement, to our total astonishment, all that astounding business success was less important than one poll,” Krivkovich wrote. “They wanted us to make them famous; we did that in spades. … But the TV ads did not make the top 10 in the USA Today poll–a poll that everyone knows doesn’t mirror results (see the continuing Bud sales decline for one!)–they just told us they will do a creative review.
“Wait a minute we said, what about the incredible growth that is going on, the shares, the revenue, the awareness, the two best internet sites ever, the massive buzz, etc, etc. What about all of that? That’s huge. `Yes,’ they responded, `but [Cramer-Krasselt] didn’t get the top ten in the USA Todaypoll.’ Hold on … we crushed every possible business metrics/barometer for success. Out of all the metrics and polls, it’s all about this one? You have to be … kidding, right!? `No, that’s it. It’s because of the poll.’ That was about the extent of the conversation.”
Apart from the Super Bowl, Cramer-Krasselt’s Monk-e-Mail viral effort, anonline marketing effort, was named best overall campaign of the year in tradepublication Adweek’s annual Buzz Awards last fall and was among the year’sbest and worst ads and other marketing gimmicks by The Wall Street Journal inDecember.
Winning Contest Doesn’t Mean Amateurs Can (Or Should) Make Ads
by Andrew Keen
It’s amateur hour at the Super Bowl this year. On Sunday, 90 million television viewers on CBS will be subjected to commercials made by “You” — Time magazine’s Person of The Year for 2006. Three Super Bowl XLI advertisers — Doritos, the National Football League, and Chevrolet — will all be running 30-second commercial spots made by amateurs. The Web 2.0 revolution in user-generated content has infiltrated the American living room. These amateur creators, who Time praise as “people formerly known as consumers,” are now providing the entertainment at the biggest event in the media calendar.This is not good news. The shift from professionally produced to user-generated advertising makes us poorer in both economic and cultural terms. The arrival of user-created commercials at Super Bowl XLI represents the American Idolization of traditional entertainment — the degeneration of professional content into a “talent show” for amateurs.
We, the conventional television audience, are certainly losers in this new fashion for user-generated advertisements. We have traditionally watched Super Bowl commercials to be entertained by memorable ads. Often, these commercials are more memorable than the game. Occasionally, they even represent significant cultural moments in American history. Few of us, for example, can remember who won Super Bowl in 1984 (Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9), where it was played (Tampa), or who sang the national anthem (Barry Manilow). But most of us can remember the Chiat/Day produced, Ridley Scott directed, commercial for the Macintosh computer, with its Orwellian subtext and its indelible explanation of why “1984 wasn’t going to be like 1984.”
Don’t expect a repeat of Chiat/Day and Ridley Scott’s creative genius during Super Bowl XLI. Doritos are already previewing the five finalists in their competition on the Yahoo! website. One commercial features a chip-chomping rock climber falling off a mountain; another has a giant mouse bursting out of a wall, scavenging for cheese-flavored chips; a third has a young woman falling over because she’s looking at her chips and not the road. All five of the finalists contain the same predictable, dorm-room aesthetic, low production qualities, and poor acting. The brain trust at Doritos deserves thanks for not exposing us to the other 1,100 entrants.
Why is the work of the amateur of a lesser quality than professionally made content? There’s the intrinsic talent of a lifelong professional, such as Ridley Scott, of course. Then there’s the financial resources made available to the professional content creator. Back in 1984, Apple paid Chiat/Day $1.6 million to produce their Mac ad. Today, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the average professionally-produced 30-second spot costs $381,000. In contrast, wedding photographer Jarod Cicon, one of the five finalists in the Doritos competition, estimates that his 30-second ad cost $150 to produce.
Web 2.0 advocates, who are apologists for user-generated content (such as Chris Anderson, the author of the best-selling book “The Long Tail”), promise that the amateurs of the new digital democracy can create the same quality content for a tiny proportion of the traditional cost. But this simply isn’t true. Watch the Doritos commercials side-by-side with some classic Super Bowl commercials, such as the Budweiser “Frogs” (1995) or “Cedric” (2001) spots. It’s like tasting a homemade elderberry wine after a glass of the best Cabernet.
The economics of amateur hour at the Super Bowl are disturbing. If today’s typical commercial costs $381,000 and an amateur advertisement costs $150 to produce, then what happens to the money which isn’t spent on the creative? Given that Doritos are awarding $10,000 to the five finalists in their talent show, that still leaves some $331,000 on the table. To use a fashionable Web 2.0 term, the professional creator is being “disintermediated.” CBS doesn’t lose anything because they still charge Doritos over $2.5 million for the 30 second spot. Instead, it’s the professional creator — the scriptwriter, cameraman, audio expert — who is being squeezed out of the economy by this infestation of amateur content.
Markets are markets and there’s no reason to cry for simply for the loss of jobs in one sector, so long as new efficiencies are being created. But in this instance, the loss of jobs is accompanied by worse, not better products. This is true across the media industry and not just in the advertising business.
As Columbia University Economics professor Jagwish Bhagwati has argued, digital technology is undermining the wages of the American middle class. Web 2.0 technologies which enable amateurs to make dumbed-down replicas of professional work are particularly responsible for what Bhagwati calls the “tsumani” of downward pressure on wages created by new technology.
Amateur content on user-generated video sites such as Google’s YouTube is undermining the value of professionally-made video content. American Idol now has an online competition called “American Idol Underground,” which is making the traditional music A&R person redundant. HarperCollins is undermining the traditional role of literary agents by running online competitions to “discover” amateur writers. The result of all this democratization of media is fewer creative jobs and more amateurish books, movies, and music. And commercials, too.