February 12, 2013

Rethinking Our Addictions

I have a little ritual.

Each year, I wait about 10 days after the Super Bowl and then I go back and look at the spots.

The event is still fresh but the hysteria is gone. It gives me a little perspective on what marketers did and what I can glean from it.

Advertising always tends to reflect trends in the larger culture. That's a nice way of saying we steal shamelessly from whatever is popular. Sometimes the stealing is overt. Sometimes it is cleverly disguised. Sometimes we don't steal the actual ideas, just the styles and the structures.

This year, the advertising was unusually evocative of popular culture -- the comic book aesthetics of the movies; the trashy morality of "reality" TV; and the horror of pop music.

The advertising was beautifully executed but mostly vapid -- all muscle, no brains.

A few spots stood out -- Budweiser's "Clydesdale"; Ram's "God Made A Farmer"; and VW's "Get Happy."

We can argue all day about whether we liked the spots, and we can argue over their creative value and political meaning, but regardless of our professional opinions, there is no doubt that these spots struck a chord with viewers.

The interesting thing is that they may have stood out because they eschewed the thrash-pop sensibility. They were gentle, innocent, and positive. They were not evocative of pop culture in their style and structure.

Perhaps there is a lesson in this. Maybe we need to rethink our addiction to pop aesthetics in advertising. Maybe in the 21st century we like our culture trashy, but our ads innocent.

Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?


Tenure said...

A throwback to a more innocent era, long ago, before the hustle and bustle and noise of today...

... an era, no doubt, that never existed, but was invented by a marketer somewhere. ;)

Ball Girl said...

I find that the GoDaddy-spot is the worst spot in the history of spots.

Chris S. said...

I don't think the godaddy spot was "bad." I didn't like it, but I'm trying more and more to figure out how to qualify "good" and "bad." If godaddy sells a shitload more domain names because of it...

Here's an idea for next year. Set up a contest. Everyone who buys a domain name is entered for a chance to star in next year's Super Bowl ad with (hot supermodel guy or girl depending on gender of winner). Shit, I might buy one myself. The partnership opportunities alone become hilarious. Scope? Trident? Southwest Airlines (wanna get away?).

CMAC said...

'there is no doubt that these spots struck a chord with viewers.'

How do we know this?

Jeremy said...

About the godaddy spots :

Tim said...

We may be closer to that Big Rethink than you think. I don't see it as 'going back' to anything, but moving on to more meaningful pastures.