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Ensuring Super Bowl Ads Score

Posted On  January 29, 2015

If you don’t believe ad testing should guide what you do, at least use ad testing to guide what you don’t do.

A minute-long Super Bowl ad costs $8 million this year. And in many cases, our country’s largest brands find that a good deal. For the winners, it most certainly is – many past Super Bowl commercials are more memorable than the game itself, reaping rewards that are multiples of the cost of the spot. But for each of the winners, there are a dozen spots that just don’t resonate, and the benefits won’t measure up to the cost. Worse yet, if an ad strikes a negative chord, the spot can cost a brand FAR more than the $8 million price tag, especially in the age of social media.

Groupon’s 2011 “Tibet” ad comes to mind. In an attempt to draw you in and then quickly change the subject, the ad was criticized profusely on social media in the days after the Super Bowl for making fun of the plight of the Tibetan people to sell something as innocuous as daily deals on restaurants here in the US. While the ad does have me talking about it years later, it most certainly did damage to the Groupon brand, costing the company far more than $8 million in brand equity without much positive return at all.

Which brings us to the announcement this week that GoDaddy has pulled a Super Bowl ad after a resounding negative response in social media from a public preview. The ad portrays a puppy traveling through a variety of scenes to finally make it home, only to meet his owners who are elated because they had just sold him on a website created using GoDaddy. GoDaddy got lucky that it pre-launched before the ad ended up in the Super Bowl arena of huge expectations. The ad missed the mark so strongly that even its smaller audience managed to create a social machine that harmed the GoDaddy brand.

We understand the power of intuition to choose ads. Some seemingly questionable ads that may not have passed a formal test have been huge successes. And ad testing doesn’t have to be about guiding the creative. But at the very least, a quick quantitative test that measures the effects of the ad against a control cell and long established benchmarks can ensure the ad doesn’t drive consumers to:

• Feel alienated
• Miss the connection to the product
• Feel disgust when they’re supposed to find humor
• Consciously or non-consciously detach from your brand

Whether during the Super Bowl or on an average Tuesday spot, brands can save millions in cash and potentially much much more in brand equity by spending a couple of days and a few thousand bucks to ensure an ad is a touchdown and not a total foul. Once you have a strong playbook, feel free to trust your intuition and win the day with confidence.


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