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Superbowl Ads That Didn’t Suck

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment

[This post ran on The Next Great Generation earlier today. You should check that site daily for awesome articles]

It’s Superbowl Sunday, I’m in Wisconsin, and I have a confession to make: I don’t care about football. This sort of statement is blasphemy to the Lambeau-loving Packer fans I’ve been lucky enough to call my friends, but it’s true. Fortunately, I like food, advertising, and alcohol, so they let me watch the game with them and I’m not cast into exile for my heretic beliefs. All is well in the land of cheese and beer.

See, the Superbowl is literally “the Superbowl” of advertising.  What started out as a championship battle between the best football teams in the NFL has turned into the most-watched television show of the year, so it’s a very attractive event to brands. In today’s hyper-fragmented, ad-averse society, getting 90 million+ sets of eyeballs to actually want to watch an ad is nothing short of miraculous. Companies understand this, and are willing to pony up$100,000 per second to get the privilege of beaming its messages into the collective consciousness of America.

So in between the touchdowns, fumbles, and the Black Eyed Peas freaking out half of the country with its “Dirty Bits” during the halftime show, I watched the ads. In the spirit of the USA Today Ad Meter and TNGG-Daddy Mullen’s Brandbowl, I’ll try to do my own “Sentiment Analysis” by asking random drunk friends what they think. Here’s a semi-sober round-up of a few of my favorite ads of the evening.

Chrysler: This ad is probably my favorite of the night. While I’m sure a lot of people enjoy it just for the Eminem cameo, the copy is dynamite. It’s a long-form ode to Detroit, luxury, and American engineering. Detroit is a broken-down city, a desolate wasteland of former productivity and industry, and a casualty of outsourcing. But the city is also a testament to the ability to rebuild. It reminds me a lot of the Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign, and rightly so, as it’s another product of Portland powerhouse Wieden & Kennedy.  This ad connects with many generations, from the Boomers who knew Motown as it once was to Millennials who appreciate Eminem’s gritty reality. This ad is a giant dare (“just try and buy a foreign car”), and I really dig that. The only potential downfall of the ad is that you had to hear the copy to understand it. If you were in the middle of a Superbowl party, you wouldn’t have been able to hear the words (I had to YouTube the ad to really enjoy it). Still, it gets you emotionally invested in this country in a far more organic way than the chintzy “America! Fuck yeah!” pre-kickoff segments.

VW: Well, this was pretty cute. A kid dressed as Darth Vader attempts to use “The Force” to do various things around the house. When he (she?) attempts to start a car with only the power of his/her mind, it actually works because of the magic remote start technology of the car. It worked for me, and everyone else in the room seemed to enjoy it.

Groupon: I think this one takes the cake as the most controversial ad of the night. It’s from CPB, so I would expect no less. Call it tasteless or call it entertaining, but it definitely has everyone talking. The ad makes light of the situation in Tibet in order to sell Groupon’s ability to find us cheap things. Given the reaction to Kenneth Cole’s tweet about the riots in Egypt, it certainly is timely. But I like that a Superbowl spot was controversial instead of low-brow (I counted two groin-shot ads before the beginning of the second quarter), and it definitely raises awareness about Tibet. Feel free to argue with me. Also, check out the Groupon CEO’s response to all the haters out there.

At this point, if I had a shorter word count I’d probably talk about how JJ Abrams is always able to create buzz around a movie by being very cryptic (Super 8 looks fantastic) and how Coke managed to stick to its brand identity, but I’ve spent enough words deconstructing a few of my favorites.

I’d love to hear what everyone else thought about the night’s best ads. What do you think?

 

 

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Four Reasons Why Group Buying Works

August 28, 2010 1 comment

[tweetmeme source=”tmiesen” only_single=false]


50% off? GOTTA GET IT!

In The Simpsons, the town of Springfield is filled with more beloved characters than any other show. Ask someone who has seen the show who their favorite character is, and you’ll probably hear more people say Moe, Disco Stu, and Mr. Burns than Homer, Bart, and Lisa. While the characters are so vibrant and individual, the town is incredibly prone to mob rule. Nathan Rabin of the AV Club writes:

“Mobs are ubiquitous in The Simpsons: it only takes a tiny catalyst to transform a crowd from a band of angels to a bloodthirsty lynch mob and back again.”

Enter group buying, which turns the internet into Springfield

Group buying is one of the newest trends in social media today. Every day, group buying platforms like Groupon send out a deal via email or mobile phone. It’s a group coupon (Groupon….get it?) that is only activated once a certain number of people opt to purchase the deal. If you accept the Groupon but nobody else does, you don’t get the deal. This allows the businesses involved to use the power of scale and offer great deals.

Recently, Groupon offered its first national deal when it partnered with The Gap (pay $25, get $50 credit at the store), and the public went nuts. Groupons were flying off the proverbial shelves at 10 per second, and at the end of the day 400,000 Groupons had been sold. In the week after the deal, an additional 750,000 people subscribed to the service. So, what’s the big deal? Here are four reasons why I think group buying works.

1. Mob mentality

In order to get the deal, a predetermined number of people have to accept it. It tells you how many people have accepted the deal and how many more people need to accept the deal before it is activated. Here’s where Springfield comes in. One minute, the town of Springfield is just hanging around minding their own business, and the next minute they’ve decided to build a casino or a monorail in the town because one person suggested it. Similarly, it only takes a few people buying a coupon online for others to join in. The slightest nudge from Groupon, coupled with a basic human desire to fit inside of a group, to turn a previously disconnected subset of people into a consumer mob. The internet is full of examples of mob mentality. Viral hits and memes spread (among other reasons) because everyone wants to be a part of some bigger group; they want to be insiders. Think of group buying as “coupons that go viral.”

2. Group buying promotes social sharing

People love to get a great deal. Even more than that, they like to tell everyone they know about it. Scoring a discount is a fun thing for every age, from college students (“DUDE! 2-4-1 drinks tonight!”) to housewives (“I just got $1 off my purchase of Kleenex!”).  It feels like you’ve finally beaten The Man. Groupon promotes social sharing because of the urge to brag about the deal you received with anyone who will listen. With social media, people are able to broadcast their sweet deal to everyone they know (and many they will never meet in person), creating an organic online word-of-mouth campaign. I haven’t yet taken advantage of a Groupon deal (sacrilege, I know), so I’m not sure if they have an option to Tweet their new deal and share it on Facebook, but they definitely should. Even with local deals (the bread and butter of Groupon), you’re able to spread the word to the office,  friends, and neighbors.

3. Nobody wants to miss an opportunity to save

If people love to brag about the deals they got, they sure hate to be the one on the other side of the conversation: The person not in-the-know about a secret deal. Group buying relies on the idea that nobody likes to miss an opportunity; the deal only lasts a day, and if you wait too long it’ll be gone. Nobody wants non-buyer’s remorse. It’s the same thing that happens when an infomercial tells you “Act now! For the next 20 minutes, we’ll sell you our garbage for 50% off!”

4. The deals!

Above all, Groupon and other group buying platforms present pretty great deals, with benefits for the consumer and the business involved. Many of the deals are for vouchers or credit at a restaurant or business, so you aren’t obligated to use that deal the day you buy it. This gives flexibility to the consumer and ensures that the place of business isn’t walloped by customers on just one day. The consumers also get a great deal; it’s very common to see offers for half-off or more. Group buying is also great for small, local businesses. I’ve seen a lot of deals for things like canoe rentals and nail salons, services that you’d never really think about in the first place. Group buying gives exposure to small businesses, so it’s no surprise that Groupon says 97% of businesses featured want to use it again.

It appears that group buying is going to stick around for a while. It will be interesting to see how it adapts to technology; tying group buying with other social media would be very interesting and likely lucrative. As social media grows and changes and life becomes more mobile, group buying could be integrated with geo-targeted ads and location-based services to create a unique experience for each consumer.

What do you think of group buying? Have you bought a Groupon deal yet?

(Photo via)

1. Mob mentality

In order to get the deal, a predetermined number of people have to accept it. It tells you how many people have accepted the deal and how many more people need to accept the deal before it is activated. Here’s where Springfield comes in. One minute, the town of Springfield is just hanging around minding their own business, and the next minute they’ve decided to build a casino or a monorail in the town because one person suggested it. Similarly, it only takes a few people buying a coupon online for others to join in. The slightest nudge from Groupon, coupled with a basic human desire to fit inside of a group, to turn a previously disconnected subset of people into a consumer mob. The internet is full of examples of mob mentality. Viral hits and memes spread (among other reasons) because everyone wants to be a part of some bigger group; they want to be insiders. Think of group buying as “coupons that go viral.”

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