Super Bowl. It’s supposed to be the world championship of advertising. Apple set the standard for excellence with its million-dollar ad launching the Macintosh in 1984. This year, we saw the most mundane, weak, el-crapo advertising ever.
Particularly bad were the car ads. Ford, three times the same ad for a car I can’t buy today. I kept waiting for a different ending, nope. Same stupid grin on the frozen idiot who drove his new Mustang convertible with the top down in a blizzard. The other ad, carried on the “scary biker” stereotype (recycled concept from a Mercedes ad- and others) with a pack of bikers being scared off by a row of “Tough trucks.” Excuse me, but, in case no one in Detroit has noticed, the people buying motorcycles today, the Harley’s they drop $8-$30K on, they don’t look like that or dress like that. They also buy trucks, just probably not Fords, anymore.
How about telling us about what makes a Ford truck a good value? Make the product a hero, while describing what differentiates it from a Chevy, or a Dodge.
Or a Honda, another vehicle I can’t buy today. The Ridgeline is a nice truck I’m sure, but, it looks like a Matchbox toy truck- tell me, calling it a 1 ton truck, with a bed that looks like it’s 3.5 feet long, doesn’t instill confidence. How about comparing it to something I might know- especially, since I can’t go out and drive one.
Same thing for Cadillac. Three new fast cars, that I can’t buy yet. Wasn’t “we build excitement” the line for Pontiac? Build excitement about a car I can buy.
Let’s just call this automotive flirtation, not advertising. One of my cardinal rules of marketing is don’t tease when you could deliver. It’s about wasting the consumer’s time. They value it, you should too.
Volvo offered to take me into space, but wasn’t that an ad for Virgin Galactic, not the Volvo- wait, it was Volvo wasn’t it? I don’t remember.
Toyota is still bragging about the Prius, using cool effects, but, do the crunchy granola types watch the Superbowl?
Car advertisers all fail.
But then again, how many good car ads are there?
How many car brands out there really get the connection to their intended market?
Mercedes got it for a while, but then because of mega agency mergers, they had to switch agencies, no matter how good the work was.
Mini, of course has gotten it, all on a budget for less that what Ford spent for their 4 ads- well maybe a little more. An Agency that has ideas, there is a good start.
VW had it too for a while, but that was only because they were the first to tie in trippy indy music with trippy indy cars, at least that’s what all the young yuppies thought when they bought the first German cars that proved that Germans don’t always get the engineering right.
Car brands have to take a look at Harley Davidson. Here’s a company that has a brand that works. Here’s a company that builds motorcycles almost as poorly as the American car companies build cars, yet sells them all. HD makes more money off licensing than from selling bikes these days. There was a day when the Chevy Bowtie had that kind of power, but it’s long gone now.
US car companies tried to trick the consumer offering cars that were the same, only different- Firebird/Camaro etc. It didn’t work.
Another cardinal rule of advertising- don’t fake it, keep it real.
Real differentiation, real reasons to buy one instead of the other. Substance over style.
So, take note. Next year, if you want to sell cars on the Superbowl, remember:
Don’t tease.
Don’t fake it.
Deliver real differentiation, and a way I can relate to owning that car.
The Super Bowl is the wrong place to play with selling cars.