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$116,666 Per Second

It started as a search for a little kindness.

It ended with a kid taking a pee in a pool at $116,666 per second.

Sound bizarre? Stay with me.

After writing the article about the Chevy Super Bowl commercial last week (thanks for all the nice feedback) I decided to find a commercial that I could say good things about.

So I went to the advertising world’s bible, Ad Age – www.adage.com –to review all the Super Bowl commercials.

My intent was pure.

But what do I find as the first commercial to review?

It’s a little boy of maybe 8 in a swimming pool. He emerges from under the water, looks at a stone statue of a child peeing, then at his father holding a hose spewing water. It becomes obvious that the kid has to pee.

He runs into the house and is confronted by running water at every turn. He makes for the bathroom, but his sister beats him to it and slams the door in his face. He’s jumping up and down now, really has to pee.

He runs to a bathroom upstairs, but its locked. He runs back down the stairs, outside and jumps back into the pool, where he finally let’s lose. He smiles in relief. In the background his sister jumps into the pool and he gets a devilish grin on his face.

What are they selling? Gotta be some kind of pool disinfectant, I think. Maybe it’s organic, or non toxic or…

The over-voice message at the end says the kid is totally free (to pee). “Feels good,” it says.

And then it promotes… free tax software and gives a website.

Get it? The kid is free to pee and their tax software is free.

Are these people out of their ever-loving minds!!??

Hard to believe that a company would spend $116,666 per second – $3,500,000 for a 30 second commercial on the Super Bowl, positioning tax software with a kid who pees in a pool and then grins when his sister jumps in.

But take a look.


Bends my marketing mind into pretzels that I can’t unwind.

Think about it. Not only did someone produce the commercial, someone actually wrote a check for $3.5 million to put it on the air.

There are a number of things they could have used for positioning.

One positioning approach could have been to position the product against the top selling brand.

Avis rent-a-car lost money 13 years in a row, until they positioned their brand against Hertz- They didn’t even have to mention the name as Hertz continually promoted that they were #1.

This simple, but brilliant, “against” positioning turned Avis profitable immediately. Avis Is Only No. 2, We Try Harder.

Applied to this product: “Tax season is tough enough without having to pay for your income tax software. Others charge $19.95 for theirs. Ours is free. Download it now – www.taxact.com.”

(You wouldn’t have to mention TurboTax, the #1 best selling tax software or H&R Block #2. They are both well known brands and both charge for their basic software where Tax Act does not).

One could position it with other digital products:

Video footage plays along with each….“Mailing a letter costs $.44. Email is free.

“The World Wide Web is the biggest shopping mall in the universe with over 100 million websites. Access is free.

“Calling friends and family on your cell phone uses minutes on your plan, but Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are free.

“And here’s another great Freebie- our new user-friendly tax software for 2012– it’s absolutely free. www.Taxact.com.

Maybe something more aesthetic:

Commercial opens with that spectacular sunset and video footage for each example.

“A summer sunset is free…

“So is the laughter of a child at play.

“A snowfall on Christmas Eve is free, and body-surfing The Wedge at Newport Beach costs nothing but courage.

“But you don’t need to ride any 20 footers to catch this free ride – the all new, user-friendly tax software from Tax Act. www.Taxact.com.”

This later isn’t really the right classification of things with which to position this product but these are just off the top of the head musings.

Still, any of these would have been better positioning for tax software than a kid urinating in a swimming pool, which, to my mind, is a marketing acid trip.

Look at Best Buy’s 30-second Super Bowl spot. Clever, great positioning with digital geniuses and a clear message: if you are going to buy a smart phone, we’ve got ‘em all.


Great ad. Clean, clear message, and positions the store with some of the greatest digital innovators in the world.

To hit it out of the park, you must consult your prospects – you survey them. Because a guess might not find the mental sweet spot. And if you miss it, even by a bit, it could cost you thousands in wasted advertising dollars.

Positioning in advertising has to do with making your product well liked or desired by associating it with something already in the mind of your public.

Here’s the drill.

First, you survey your public to see what they consider valuable about your product or service. What’s already in their mind about what you sell?

Say you’re going to launch a new brand of bottled water (good luck; hugely competitive). You survey your prospects. You ask, among other things, “What’s the most important benefit you get from drinking bottled water?”

The majority answer, is, let’s say, “It quenches my thirst.”

This, then, is an agreed upon benefit in the mind of your public about bottled water.

Now, to position, we want to know what represents “quenches my thirst.” What does your public associate with having their thirst quenched?

So we do a second survey to find a position for your water that will communicate to your prospects instantly. You ask, “What image instantly flashes to mind when I say “quenches my thirst?”

Let’s say the answer is, “An oasis.”

The company names its water Oasis and designs a logo to match. The tag line under the logo, “Quenches your thirst.”

The video-commercial possibilities are endless.

This is what we have been doing for 25 years. You can see a couple of real examples of positioning that we have done right here: ontargetresearch.com.

Take a look. 2 minutes plus.

Cool, eh?

Call or email if we can be of service.