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Super Bowl commercials: the Good, the bad, and the ugly



Let’s say Fox had a good hair day last Sunday as they generated almost $600 million dollars in Super Bowl ad revenue.

You can’t blame the corporations for spending $7,000,000 for a 30 second commercial as this year they got 113 million pairs of eyeballs. Huge exposure.

Add the cost of A-list talent (a few million), to the cost of the air-time and you’re beginning to talk real money. The commercials featured everyone from Bradley Cooper to John Travolta, Ben Affleck and Will Ferrell.

But dear God how do these CEOs confront their shareholders having spent that kind of money on what in many cases was nothing other than marketing dreck.

Why the harsh language? Marketing is supposed to sell something. That’s its purpose. But the majority of these commercials do anything but.

Here’s an example. One of dozens. This commercial is for a skin care brand called e.l.f.

The actress puts the skin care primer on her hands and then rubs it on her face. It is very sticky. So sticky that as the actress answers her cell phone, the phone sticks to her face at which point she loses her balance knocking the bottles and other items off of her vanity as she falls to the floor. When she gets up, her face sticks to her mirror.

Go ahead, take a look. It’s only 30 seconds long.


Someone at e.l.f. forked over around $8 million dollars for that commercial. A commercial that positions the brand with a  fiasco and serious personal discomfort.

There are dozens of others. Commercial directors today think their purpose is to be funny. Not only is the “humor” slapstick, it is not truly funny, even with celebrities, and more to the point it, doesn’t sell.

This from the advertising giant of the 20th century, David Ogilvy.

       “99% of advertising doesn’t sell a thing”

“The title of this post is a quote attributed to one of the biggest names in advertising, David Ogilvy…

“Advertising works, it’s just that most of the people who produce or sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work.”


“Anna Tuchman, an associate professor of marketing at Kellogg, and her collaborators analyzed the effect of TV commercials on sales for more than 200 consumer packaged goods, including food, drinks, and basic household products…

“For many products, the return on investment (ROI) was negative: the companies had spent more on commercials than they earned back in additional sales.” 1

Whoa!  Why is that?

The answer is two-fold: first, as noted above. The essence of commercials today has changed. Commercial directors consider that they have to be funny now. But the writers are not Jonathan Winters or Robin Williams and most turn out to be silly as opposed to funny. The above commercial is a perfect example.

I repeat, the purpose of advertising is to create want for the product or service and to sell something.

Here’s a commercial that made me want the product. It showed how it was used and I saw a personal benefit. There’s a bit of humor and celebrity, it’s not a big deal but I want one of these.


The other missing ingredient is surveys.

“Bottom line, surveys increase sales and traffic because they help you provide your buyers with exactly what they want.”2

A key question I like to ask customers of an existing client is,

“What is it that was said or done that made you decide to buy (the product from the client).”

For prospects, we want to know specifically what they consider valuable about whatever is being sold.

Trust me, when you get answers to questions like these and then use them in your marketing, the clouds part, the angels sing and the cash register rings.

If you want to see what’s involved – cost wise, time wise, give me a call or drop me an email.





“Bruce is the man when it comes to all things to do with marketing. I hired Bruce to do market research prior to opening up my CrossFit gym in Los Angeles and have to say it was money very well spent…. As a result of these steps and my own management experience we were able to turn a profit our very first month. And we have steadily expanded since then. Bruce’s standard use of surveys and not just opinion or “feelings”, but hard plain facts really makes a difference in terms of the results you get with your marketing. I will use Bruce and On Target when we are ready to open our next location. “

Guy LaBruciano



2- https://www.papernstitchblog.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-be-using-surveys-as-a-sales-strategy/