Each year I take delight in sharing a few of my observations from the “Super Bowl of Advertising”… the Super Bowl. Sometimes the ads we see make us laugh or cry or think, and as far as the marketers are care, BUY. There are usually a few ads that are way above average – and others that don’t quite hit their target.
Unfortunately this year, I don’t have much to say, which I think in its own right reflects more about the status of our culture as viewed through this prism than anything. Again, there is nothing particularly scientific to my feelings, but hopefully provides food for thought or deeper reflection
We are a deeply divided nation. The status of our political discourse on so many levels is broken. #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, immigration, Russia, Democrats, Republicans. It all seems to be a stew where we are lacking true leadership.
I get it. The pendulum swings back and forth – and the days of progressivism have been exchanged for conservatism. Yet, I for one hope that we continue to push the envelope in music, movie, theatre, art and for what it’s worth, advertising.
If the ads we saw on Super Bowl Sunday are holding up a mirror to our society, I think we are lacking. Or is it possible we are looking at ourselves through a funhouse mirror that distorts what we see into some amalgamation of clowns, Olympians, cars and beer. Or maybe that is America?
There may be two reasons for why hardly anything of note was produced and consumed to the tune of $5 million dollars per 30 seconds. At those rates, it is proof that the sizable audience is there for marketers to reach us. The ad spaces are most definitely not going unsold.
So what may be at issue as to why we lack anything memorable or thought-provoking that connects with us about being American in 2018? Or is it that too many tried to say the same thing and nothing cut through the clutter.
First, and I do hope this is untrue, but it is possible that corporate America simply does not want to rock the boat for fear of a tweet from our President. This would be an awful excuse, yet I believe we can see that it simply isn’t worth standing up for our principles only to run the risk of being hammered by the President in a tweetstorm in the wee hours of the morning.
It’s may not be worth the pain inflicted through social media, no matter how right and true the tone. If you’re not in lock step with ruling party, your efforts could be subject to ridicule, mocking or worse. What a sad state of affairs.
The second, and what I believe to be at work here, is the lack of creativity brought to us because of the manifestation of data in all of our marketing decisions. By definition data is not creative and perhaps the pendulum has swung forcefully into the digital age that creating inspiration has been missed along the way.
With machine learning, marketing automation, algorithms and all of the tools of the cloud at our fingertips, we can now make sure we are only targeting and reaching those on the social media networks and channels that matter most.
By shopping Amazon, searching Facebook and Googling, marketer know all they will ever need to know about us and will fulfill their mission by serving us those things that like-minded consumers consume.
Is it the death of advertising as we know it? Probably not, but it will be interesting to see how the industry changes in the coming years and whether or not creativity is left on the side of the road.
The Super Bowl provides the biggest platform we have on one day to reach as many Americans as possible. One would think the collective industry would take that opportunity to reach to our better angels and aspirations as a nation and as a people. If Ram using remarks from Martin Luther King Jr. and T-Mobile sending the most impactful message of the event on what it means to be an American, we have a great deal of work to do.