Here we go again, though by the time you read this, there they went again. Welcome to another of my personal finance exercises. The annual event that is the Super Bowl Ad Campaign is something I pay attention to because I want to see what everyone else is paying attention to, besides the game. (Begin soap box moment.) After a bit of research into the NFL I admit that I can’t get enthused about old billionaires exploiting impressionable young people by turning them into multi-millionaires, well, that part is OK, to hurt each other in billion dollar stadiums funded by municipalities that don’t supposedly don’t have enough money for roads, education, or their unluckier citizens. (End soap box moment.) Consumer spending is a major component of the US economy, and this is one way to see a summary. This year adds the flavor of political ads, which affects the economy, too. Thanks to every advertiser that at least makes their ads entertaining.
The process is simple. Watch as many of the ads as reasonable. Watch for trends. Listen for the messages, and also what seems to resonate with others. It isn’t comprehensive. Starbucks started by specifically not advertising (wisdom) , until they got so big that they had to (folly?). Great ads don’t make great products or profits. Bad ads can ruin reputations. But, in general, ads are one way to measure management strategies and effectiveness. So, I’ll put this draft aside as I watch the ads collected on AdBlitz’s YouTube channel, make notes as I go, then sift through to learn what I saw. You’re saved that hour or two of waiting. I wonder what I’ll see, hear, and write. I might even feel something.
(Note: This took long enough that it passed from me drinking tea at the start to whiskey by the end.)
What was there
- Cars will be electric and smarter than you. (Even Hummer will be electric.) Your phone will be smarter than you. Your house will be smarter than you.
- Diversity has progressed from rare token appearances, to accepted but uncommon, to the obvious norm, but has yet to progress to people being treated as people regardless of their DNA. For decades I’ve assumed that anyone can do anything. Evidently, this is still news. (Meeting one of the first Sea Gals, the Seahawks cheerleaders, as she taught one of my first karate classes helped. Could kick my butt, literally and repeatedly.)
- Astronauts that are women? This is news? Hope they got paid for the ad. They deserve to be better paid than the football players. I wish they’d been part of the ad on Mars rather than a beauty cream ad. Their accomplishments make appearances inconsequential.
- Rich people have more fun and can get away with more stuff. Break the law in your fancy car? OK.
- Movies are fantasies. In the Depression, it was musicals. Now, it’s fantasy action.
- SUVs are statements, not vehicles for sports or utility.
- The majority of ads aren’t showing what they’re selling, and if they do, the products are more likely to be props. They’re selling sizzle and hoping no one cares.
- What is it with mattresses? That’s a trend.
- Exercise equipment comes equipped with electronic coaches. Evidently, we need more than internal motivation – something I am reflecting on as I type instead of working out. But hey, people are working out in those and other ads. Note: Workout clothes are equipped with pockets for phones.
- Facebook/Google/Amazon are your friends. (Please don’t break us up with anti-trust regulations.)
- Don’t cook. Either meet us in the parking lot or we’ll deliver it to your door. Convenience rules.
- Food is defined by either what’s not in it, or an excess of spices.
What wasn’t there
- No politics? At least not on AdBlitz. I was saved from that. Thanks.
- Sorry, MVIS. – A separate and long topic.
Familiar favorites (that have yet to convince me to buy their products or services)
- Old Spice – Make fun of ads. Yes!
New names (the real benefit for investors like me in such an exercise)
- Genesis/cars – Not for me, though I recall a friend talking about Tesla years ago. He should’ve listened to himself.
- Takis/food – Not for me, because snack food isn’t for my approach to investing in positive products.
- Quibi – A ten minute YouTube? Sure, but why? And yet, such simple innovations can succeed spectacularly. Something to watch – in many ways.
- Purple – Plastic mattresses may be comfortable, but I doubt they’re practically sustainable.
- Pro-Form – Glad to see workout equipment do well, but I think the long term customer base may someday transition to something simple like working out because they want to.
Well, that was over two hours of, blink blink, watching YouTube. Whew. It was worthwhile, though. The tone is less dire than during the Great Recession; but the emphasis remains excess for the rich as something they deserve and distraction for those without. The ‘us’ is more about people than country, which will be interesting to compare after November’s US election. Automation and the surveillance state is a given with cautions that are treated lightly rather than seriously, not a surprise considering the companies aren’t selling luddite solutions. Artificial intelligence has taken the place of the Internet. The Internet enabled entrepreneurs. Artificial Intelligence could do so, too; but it looks like the corporations are in control. The diversity was the most positive part, for me; and as I alluded to above, I look forward to it being treated naturally rather than under a spotlight. That may take a generation or three. Few made great claims about where they’re going, almost as if no one has confidence of what will happen by this time next year.
I am sure there are more ads I didn’t see. Fine. I’ve seen enough for my purposes. Time for my eyes and conscious mind to relax. My subconscious will filter through. In the next day or two I’ll read other interpretations. I always learn something from the conversation. This year, however, I didn’t find something that inspired me to buy or invest. Maybe next year.
An aside. We had a rare, sunny Sunday, today. I took the time to work in the yard. There was yard waste to chip and spread. It should be no surprise that power equipment with whirling blades would have a warning label. This one came with several languages, which unintentionally made a comment about ads. The English part of the warning label said “WARNING!”. Beside it was another language’s warning “AVERTISSEMENT”. Echoes of irony.