For somebody who works in marketing, I don’t watch all that much commercial television. This changed during the recently concluded World Series, where I was following the fabulous Giants in a hotel room without a DVR while attending the Direct Marketing Association’s conference and so giving a lot of thought to advertising.
Certain ads played over and over again, making me the beneficiary or victim of frequency. An ad I never tired of was Budweiser’s “Friends Are Waiting” spot. A young guy bids farewell to his dog as he heads out the door with a suitcase of beer; later it’s night and we hear ominous music and the dog is sulking, making us guess something bad happened; then it’s morning and the guy comes home after all because he decided not to drive after drinking. The punch line: “Some never make it home. But we can change that.” A bit cryptic, yet absolutely perfect.
The Matthew McConaghey ad was another winner in a fine series, which equates driving a Lincoln to being an American success. It gets a special mention for this line: “I’ve been driving Lincolns since… long before they paid me to do it.” As copywriters we struggle to include the mandatory compensation disclosure in spokesperson ads. This is a beautiful solution.
Bad was everything from T-Mobile, and especially the ad with a Pirates outfielder making a last minute catch. The rather obscure message of this campaign is that they have better broadband coverage than some competitors (maybe because they have so few customers?) so if you want to capture the moment with a video at the event you won’t get timed out. The problem was we were already at the event, watching the game. The incredibly high production values/expense to create something that look like a high definition tweak of reality was wasted and ultimately annoying.
And just peculiar was the Bank of America ad featuring the dad Rafael Feliz who’s bopping around making strange purchases with the money he’s earned with a cash back card until finally it’s revealed he is putting together a night sitting on the beach watching a surfing video with his family on a portable projector—presumably all bought or rented with points. Rafael looks hapless throughout this spot and his kids, the beneficiaries of his largess, look like they’d rather be somewhere else.
Since “responsibility” is the theme of most of BofA’s commercials these days, one wonders how this even made it off the storyboard. It’s just tone deaf instead of whimsical or charming and one also wonders if they test this stuff against real audiences. A presenter at the DMA shared some car ads and results—one for Audi (as I recall) where the car helps avoid accidents just as a parent does with kids, and another spy vs spy for Hyundai with a lot of chases through tunnels, helicopters and other James Bond silliness. The sweet one dramatically increased “intent to buy” while the spy themed ad actually reduced intent to buy, so maybe not.