Superbowl Ads – Marketing Lessons from the best Website Commercials

Although we all love the game, for many of us the Superbowl ads can be the most entertaining reason to tune in. And certainly they are the reason we avoid walking away from the tv during commercial breaks.

This year, many of the old standby companies, including Pepsi and Chevy/GM, were mysteriously missing, and there were a few internet companies that took great advantage of the dedicated audience. The marketing lessons from a couple of my favorite ads, from Google and E-Trade, can be applied to many businesses and promotions.  Below are some lessons we can borrow from the big guys. Enjoy and let us know your thoughts with a comment!

Google: Parisian Love

In this spot, Google displays the confident attitude we have come to know and love, by responding to the recent Microsoft Bing attack ads with a simple, straightforward view of a typical Google search, and the results seen by millions of daily users. Notice how they recreate the user’s experience, show results, and never once mention the competitionsuperbowl ad google parisian love. Brilliant!

The Lesson: Keep it Simple. If your product or service is easier to understand when shown visually, be sure you have a great web presence, online video (embedded on your site or linked from YouTube), photos, and a trial version if applicable. Then simply show viewers how easy your product or service is to use, or the difference it makes. I am always surprised by companies that have great results to show, yet don’t include actual photos and video on their sites.

E-Trade: Baby Girlfriend

superbowl ad etrade baby girlfriendThis spot was my absolute favorite. It’s funny, interesting, and tied to a memorable theme from years past. The underlying message is that E-Trade is so simple, a baby could use it; but they don’t hammer the viewer over the head with that message. It leaves you wanting more, which conveniently, is available on their website.

The Lesson: Don’t take your business too seriously, and find an angle to get your prospects to take action. For the 13% of total Superbowl viewers that were estimated to be watching while connected to the internet, and the millions more who would view the commercials on YouTube today, this was a well-played gamble.

For businesses using social media marketing, this message should really drive home for you. Everything you do should have the underlying priorities around driving users to your website, developing a community that people WANT to connect to by offering resources, fun, value, and interesting topics, and enticing people to take immediate action. Whether that action is developing a longer-term relationship or making an immediate purchase depends on your strategy.

The writing is on the wall. Advertising and Marketing have shifted. You simply cannot create a 30-second spot, place it on the airwaves, and expect to start ringing up customers the next day. It is all about interacting with customers and prospects, listening to them, developing a conversation, and using that insight to build your business.

– Melissa Albano

Stay True to Your Brand

Starbucks recently launched their first line of instant coffee, labeled ‘Via’. In the tv spot, they show a blind comparison test between their traditional Barista-made coffee and the new instant line. The messaging is: we bet they can’t tell the difference.

So is this the new product line that will bring Starbucks out of it’s yearlong profits nosedive, or a mistake of “New Coke” sized proportion? The launch certainly made Wall Street happy, as shares rose 4 percent yesterday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, according to an announcement on However this short-term gain could have a significant long-term negative effect on the Starbucks brand.

After all, this is a company built on the idea of bringing traditional, expertly-made coffee concoctions to a discerning consumer, and pricing them accordingly. In the beginning, Baristas were sent to Italy to learn the traditional style of brewing espresso, and as anyone knows from attempting to order a ‘medium regular coffee’ at the counter is that even the naming and sizing of beverages was meant to differentiate the brand from the major coffee chains.

While I don’t necessarily see a problem with the introduction of an instant line for convenience and variety, I do find major flaws with positioning it directly against the traditional style. People don’t just go to Starbucks for the coffee, they go for the experience. There is something to be said for having your morning cuppa prepared by a trained barista, and waiting that extra few minutes for the foam to be poured just right. Somehow it feels a bit more accurate to pay extra for a ‘tall, half-caf, soy Americano’ than for a ‘medium regular’ that you could have brewed yourself with hot water on an airplane.

The marketers behind New Coke thought they had a great product extension idea as well, and ended up shooting themselves in the foot. So what do you think?