A toast to the Seahawks. I heard that they won. Maybe someday I’ll watch a replay. I worked through The Game because it was the best way to spend my time. Then, after my work was done, I watched the ads, every one except one. Sports or commerce or whatever, the Super Bowl is a fine example of companies using money to move money, which two clients have brought up on a personal level. When should the money flow, and when should it stay?
Super Bowl ads = one of the best ways to track American commerce. Each year’s themes are different. The production levels change. The advertisers change. The reactions change. My reactions change.
According to YouTube’s count, there were 56 ads. Most were either 30 seconds or sixty seconds, and cost about $133,000 per second. How much are your living expenses per year? In less than an hour, you can get a multi-million dollar review of what advertisers perceive to be American desires. Very cheap research.
As usual there were car and beer ads. The internet and tech stocks showed up, but not as much as before. There were lots of American flags, which is also myopic considering the percentage of the audience that isn’t in the USA; but I guess each country sees different ads. But, hey, we’ve got stuff to celebrate, and it might as well be during the Super Bowl.
My favorite three were:
- Coke Cola – Going All The Way (which is unlisted, hmm) – though such an ad would never get me to drink Coke unless rum was involved.
- Duracell – Trust Your Power – because it was about someone real and inspiring, though had very little to do with the product
- Jeep – Restless – because I am, and I miss the places my Jeep took me, though my Chevy may provide if I ever have the time and money again (“Stillness is what kills us.”)
The Budweiser limo ad reminded me of the unsustainability of excess. Over the top, and disconcerting that it probably appeals to many.
The Budweiser puppy ad was close to a great story, but may I rewrite it, please? There was potential there for a human story in addition to the pet story.
But why do they do this? Advertisers buy ads because it is one of the few times they know that even people like me will watch an ad. They see a time and a place where using their money may make money, and they know there are no guarantees.
Put mega-corporations aside.
Sit down with some of my friends. Some of whom are wealthy. Some of whom are wondering how they are going to live for decades with less than $100,000 in savings.
Where should they move their money? Conventional wisdom has stumbled so hard so often that people question it, know that they should try something different, but don’t know what should take convention’s place.
There was a lack of financial ads this year. The only ad I refused to watch was from Bank of America. The only way they could get me to watch that ad would be to tell me ahead of time that it was a massive apology to the country they named themselves after; otherwise, I suspect the message would be too conventional.
Interest rates are down. Stock markets are high are using an adjective from an well-known phrase, “Buy Low, Sell High.” Great. If the markets are high, and if people sell, what should they buy? Real estate is low, or high, or very confused. Commodities aren’t much better. There are no obvious safe havens or confidently insured alternatives. Cash sits, ready to move.
The corporations are in a similar situation. Corporate profits are up. Balance sheets are healthy. Yet, the funds aren’t flowing to employees, don’t seem to be proportionally progressing innovation, though seem to be finding havens in management compensation packages.
The ads that inspired the most thought were two that should be diametrically opposed: Smartcar and Maserati. The Smartcar ad pointed out the ridiculousness of an SUV in a concrete canyon, and example of too much of something in the wrong place. A Maserati anywhere except a race track, the Autobahn, or Montana in summer makes no sense either; yet the opening lines to their ad were about a cause laying quiet in the shadows and then unleashing itself upon the world. The first 1:09 sounds more like Occupy and products like the Smartcar instead of a testosterone supplement.
The Smartcar sounded like an invitation to a new world. The last 20 seconds of the Maserati looked like a last hurrah before the paradigms shift.
To my friends looking to decide what to do with their money I suggest being smarter than the old-style corporations. Doing nothing is going nowhere. Maintaining the status quo misses the point that the quo is moving. The world is changing. What can you invest in that makes your world better? Sometimes that is investing in someone else’s fresh idea. Sometimes that is investing in yourself. Research and Develop yourself, or others making the changes you know should be made. Use the resources you have to enrich yourself, others, and the world. And, when you’re moving that money around with such intent, don’t be surprised if you don’t buy anything the advertisers had for sale. That’s their game. Play your own.