Advertising’s Silly Season

With Super Bowl LI just under a month away, it’s time once again for advertising’s annual exercise in self-immolation.

We’ll hear about companies that have bought time on the program. Various aspects of ad creative will get doled out, and social media campaigns launched in hopes of increasing or extending awareness.

The entertainment value of the spots will get reviewed in real time during the show, and ranked immediately thereafter. Winners and losers will be decided.

And then nobody will care. Lots of made-up numbers will get thrown about trying to make the case for branding success, but businesses that advertise on the Super Bowl tend to perform at or below their industry averages (measured in sales and stock price, as I said on CNN in 2012).

The problem is that the factors that make for a “great” Super Bowl ad have absolutely nothing to do with communicating effectively….let alone selling stuff.

Spots have to be overtly funny or shocking in order to stand out. They need to play on blunt and generic tropes in order to appeal to the incredibly broad demographics of the viewing audience.

For perhaps the only time of the year, consumers are challenged to watch commercials as would-be ad critics, their expert analyses informed by what they’ve learned about advertising from TV reality shows.

Advertising’s big day couldn’t get a more inauspicious setup…

Read the entire essay at Linkedin