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I was hoping to fall in love. (Super Bowl 50)

I was hoping to fall in love.

I watch the Super Bowl commercials like a high school senior at the prom without a date. I look with undisguised longing for an emotional connection.

The Super Bowl has given birth to some beauties: the great Eminem Chrysler commercial http://tinyurl.com/d42ltuo;


the emotionally powerfully Dodge truck commercial, “And so God made a farmer” http://tinyurl.com/hfq85jr;


And others.

But alas, Super Bowl 50 did not deliver a marketing moment about which to be passionate. There were some good commercials – several of the auto commercials were good and I am over the moon that Matt Damon is coming back as Jason Bourne (there were lots of commercials for upcoming films), but none of the commercials were gripping to the point of, Wow!

What did strike me was the complete capitulation by advertisers of positioning the advertised products with celebrities. Nothing wrong with that. Advertisers have been using celebrity spokespeople for decades…but never to this extent.

Unfortunately, this is evidence, to some degree, that the advertisers and / or their agencies don’t know how to position well other than using a well known face.

On the other hand: if positioning your tax software with one of the greatest actors in the history of stage, screen and television (Anthony Hopkins if you didn’t see it) is worth the estimated $15 million, go for it. (My estimate is based on the fact that CBS charged $5 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl air time – double that for 60 seconds, which is what the Turbo Tax commercial was. And I’m guessing Sir Anthony must have picked up something in the neighborhood of $5 million for the spot- I base that on the fact that Brad Pitt got $4 million for a Super Bowl commercial for Heineken a few years ago).

Not bad deal for the knighted Welshman, who gets about $10 million for an entire film.

But it wasn’t just Anthony Hopkins. The Super Bowl celebrity rooster included Dame Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Christopher Walken, Steven Tyler, Amy Schumer, Seth Rogen, Michael Pena, Jason Bateman, Alex Baldwin, Steve Harvey, Dan Marino, Harvey Keitel, Serena Williams, Liam Neeson (Neeson’s commercial for a technology product was produced by none other than Ridley Scott – Blade Runner, Alien, The Martin, etc.).

So, as you can see, advertisers are engaging sports and film celebrities in droves and are throwing eye-watering amounts of money at these Super Bowl commercials – but then they reached more than 111 million viewers and that’s some serious branding.

One commercial that did not use an A-list actor to sell their car was Prius, which very cleverly catapulted the existing positioning of the car (eco-friendly, gas saving) to a fast, almost sports car, position. Prius, really? This was chancy, but they pulled it off.

Flying into Sacramento a few years ago, I decided to try a Prius at the rental car agency. That car may have saved me some gas money, but I took to calling it “piggy” because of the sluggish pick up I experienced when trying to merge on to the freeway.

The Toyota marketing people understood that this was an issue with prospective car buyers. They gave the car some juice, and in this commercial there is not a word about gas mileage or being eco-friendly – it already has that position. No, they added Speed to the marketing focus, and it works.

You watch it and think…, “That’s a Prius?”

Check it out. Very clever to add this “attribute” to the existing position.


 An interview with the marketing manager makes clear that he consciously used the existing positioning of the Prius to handle an objection that was in the minds of some of his prospects.

He did a good job of it.

If you need to really understand what is in the mind of your prospects so that your marketing can penetrate and get response, give us a call. We have been surveying the minds of client’s customers and prospects for over 25 years.

You may not be able to hire Brad Pitt or Anthony Hopkins to promote your product, but the action of surveying your public is the KEY to increased sales and income.

“We live, as you know better than most, in a world where information is the  rising currency of real value. Your information, provided by solid, yet unique and innovative research technologies, thus becomes great wealth” J.B. President




Bruce Wiseman

President & CEO

On Target Research