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Super Bowl 2014 Branding


I finally did it.


I watched all 87 Super Bowl commercials.


$4 million dollars for 30 seconds, $8 million for 60. And that’s just the airtime. The production costs, particularly those commercials with big stars, could double those figures.


So here’s the question: How does corporate America spend a quarter of a billion dollars on one night of advertising and have it be so…so… feckless.


(I love this word. It just got a breakout roll in a new romantic comedy with Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga called At Middleton. Sweet film, great word.  From the Apple thesaurus: Feckless primarily means “deficient in efficacy, lacking vigor or determination, feeble”; but it can also mean “careless, profligate, irresponsible.”… The great thing about using feckless is that it lets you be extremely dismissive and mean without sounding mean; you just sound witty and classy.)


Many of these feckless commercials were driven by a “branding” agenda.’


Branding is a marketing term that emerged about two decades ago. Today, MBA programs at the nation’s top B-schools devote courses to the subject and there are more definitions of branding than there are professors who have written books on the subject.


The simplicity is that a brand is a name and branding is the action of getting that name well known on all available marketing channels. This has become the Holy Grail of a generation Ivy League B-school graduates that are now running the marketing departments of the nation’s Fortune 500.


The purpose of marketing is to sell something. Ideally, an ad should result in a reach: a call, a click of the mouse, a visit to the store, be it digital or brick and mortar.


Still, increasing brand awareness has its place.


Here are a few Super Bowl 2014 branding commercials, from the feckless to the fabulous.


First, an example of the feckless.


Watch the commercial at the link below.




The brand is Alex and Ani. They have tried to take a page out of the great Eminem / Chrysler Super Bowl commercial of 2011. You know, America’s coming back and we’re part of it


The voiceover is good – maybe the same guy Chrysler used – the production values are good. And they have a very patriotic and uplifting message selling their…?


What is it again that they sell?


I go back and watch the commercial a second time. Perhaps I missed it. No, I still can’t tell. I go to their website to see what they do.


Ah, it’s a jewelry brand. Perhaps women know the brand. I call some classy gals I know (my wife being the classiest). “Do you know the brand, Alex & Ani?”


“No.” “No.” “No.” And so on.


Okay, it’s not a world-class survey. I’m just sayin’… how do you spend that much money on a commercial that doesn’t say what you do?


The CEO was interviewed about the commercial and its lack of product identification. His response? “We are building a brand. It doesn’t matter what the product is. It’s all brand awareness.”




Four and a half million dollars and “it doesn’t matter what the product is?”


Maybe if you’re Cartier or Tiffany’s or Rolex or Gucci.


Alex & Ani? Not yet.


Still, there were some powerful branding commercials in this year’s Super Bowl.


Budweiser knows how to do this. Watch one of their commercials.




Chrysler also knows how to brand. Here’s one of my all time favorites from the 2013 Super Bowl for Dodge (Ram) Trucks.




Paul Harvey doesn’t quite beat Chrysler’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial with Eminem, but it’s close.




So branding has a place if it’s done well. But the brand has to mean something. And if you’re not Nike or Apple or Starbucks,

you need a positioning image to forward your brand.


Your positioning should forward your brand and your brand should forward your position.


What is your position?


Does your public know?


If you don’t know the answer to either of those questions, call us.


We’re On Target Research. We conduct surveys that drive sales.

“On Target’s research, broadly gathered, accurately tested, deeply and widely analyzed, and clearly communicated to your client reflects a paradigm of excellence to which other research firms should aspire.”

Jackson Bain, Chariman & CEO
Bain & Associates