A Ghouling Trend in Marketing: Prank Advertising

Prank Advertising

In a New York City coffee shop, a horror-inspired prank gave customers more of a jolt than they expected.  A marketing stunt promoting the horror movie remake of “Carrie” used a fake wall, remote-controlled tables and chairs and spring-loaded bookshelves.  The people behind the stunt used the props to make it appear as though a patron was using telekinesis after someone knocked over her coffee.  A hidden camera captures it all, and the resulting video has more than 3 million YouTube views so far.

Officials in a small Pennsylvania township have told organizers of the “Naked and Scared” haunted house challenge to keep their pants on.  According to Shocktoberfest owner Patrick Konopelski, he has been notified that he is not allowed to have customers participate in a naked walk-through of his haunted house.   Konopelski is offering a “Naked and Scared” tour of his haunted house in Sinking Spring, Pa. The tour was intended to scare people by putting them in a vulnerable position, where they would not be protected by anything.

This continued trend in “pranking and shock marketing” follows LG’s attempt to demonstrate the superiority of their new High Definition Television by pranking unsuspecting job applicants, an ad that some feel, “does a stunning job selling the quality of LG IPS monitors.”   Utilizing “pranking” as a tool to gain attention and inspire potential customers to act favorably, by making a product or service purchase, is sparking renewed debate among some marketing professionals over the effectiveness and appropriateness of such tactics.  Does this type of “Candid Camera”  and “shock sells” advertising move consumers to make a purchase or does it merely provide entertaining or embarrassing, depending upon your perspective, YouTube videos?  And does the effort create a positive impression in the mind of consumers for the marketer’s brand?  One could argue that the millions of YouTube views of the videos are proof that viewers are paying attention to the antics, but are they being motivated to pay attention to the features and benefits of the product or service being pitched and gravitating towards a purchase decision?

In this competitive business environment and ever expanding digital and technologically advancing media opportunities, marketers certainly must investigate and pursue creative methods to inspire and motivate consumers to act.  Socially accepted norms are changing in-step with the rapid advances in communication technology, making it clear that what was “taboo” and “ineffective” marketing antics in the past is being reevaluated in today’s board rooms.  But with the implementation of such “out of the box” advertising methods come some risks to those who embark on testing the established marketing boundaries.

Recently news broke that Ms. Duick, an unknowing participant, who was punked in a 2008 Toyota advertising “stalking” campaign, is getting to execute her own punking on Toyota and their advertising agency after a California court agreed she could proceed with a $10-million (U.S.) lawsuit against Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi L.A., the agency behind the campaign, for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, false advertising, and other misdeeds. She alleged that the “stalking” caused her difficulty in eating and sleeping, and prevented her from going to work.   The advertising industry is left mulling whether the trend toward engaging audiences in games and other interactive experiences that push the envelope might carry unforeseen risks.

“The trend in marketing is to get people more engaged, getting people to do things rather than just think things,” notes Dré Labre, a creative director with the agency Rethink Toronto. “So ideas tend to start going into the world of punking or alternate-reality gaming and exploring these types of things.  We need to take into consideration as advertising agencies that people hate advertising,” continues Mr. Labre. “We need to make it likeable, and being punked doesn’t sound like something that would make me like you.”

Taking creative risks can reap huge benefits or expensive and embarrassing results.  It’s important for marketing professionals to think through the decision before embarking on risky or bold ventures in advertising.  Performing careful due-diligence will often determine whether the results produce accolades or fiasco.

LG’s Theater of Fear Marketing

LG's TV Prank

If you are a leading hi-tech audio video manufacturer wanting to demonstrate the superiority of your latest products video and audio capabilities, the process can be real challenging.  The problem becomes apparent when attempting to demonstrate that super video format or surround quality when the new technology must be demonstrated to consumers on a competitor’s inferior equipment.  So what to do when confronted with this conundrum?  In the case of the electronics giant LG, they weren’t above scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting viewers to make their point   The electronics giant took to Chile recently to shoot a hidden-camera prank commercial.  LG marketers replaced the window in an office of a high-rise building with one of its Ultra HD TVs, Ultra HD TVs, or 4K TVs as some call them, are supposed to offer a clearer image than any other types of TV currently on the market. The sets offer a resolution four times greater than that of regular HD TVs.  LG’s “prank ad” went viral on YouTube just hours after its release.

LG's Prankvertising

In the video, unsuspecting job seekers walk into the outfitted room for a job interview and sit across from the fake window in front of an actor who is playing a potential employer. All the while, the Ultra HD TV window displays a city skyline.  But in the middle of the interview, a bright light starts to shine out of the top left corner of the TV, and, slowly, a meteor creeps into view.  The job seekers try to keep calm as long as possible, but eventually they all freak out and take cover on the floor, behind a desk as certain life ending consequences approach from beyond the “fake” window.  After the lights come back up and the simulated dust settles it becomes obvious, from the reaction of the pranked, that they are genuinely scared, nearly to death by some accounts. Also evident is the fact that the victims and viewers of the ad will never forget their experience with LG’s new technology, positive or negative.

It’s not the first time that LG marketing executives have resorted to sensational scare tactics to promote one of their product offerings.  Recently the Brazilian hidden camera show “Programa Silvio Santos” aired clips of people screaming in terror at a ghostly girl in a broken elevator. The video was posted to YouTube, where it quickly garnered more than 7 million views and last October, in yet another prank, LG created an elevator floor out of computer monitors. When someone got on the elevator, the monitors made it look like the elevator floor was collapsing underneath the person’s feet. Hidden cameras caught it all, and the video went on to receive more than 15 million views.

LG's Elevator Prank

If the “view” counts equates to success than the commercials will be judged to be very successful.  However, if the terrifying, negative experience of the prospective consumers, turned LG victims, outweighs the products benefits LG may see their antics turn negative, very negative, over time.

To some well-experienced marketers, LG’s tactics may be seen as a cheap prank to divert potential customer’s attention and focus away from the real features, benefits and performance of new “superior” technology into a sort of high browed, “slight-of- hand”, theater.  In the end LG may find that the last laugh may be on them if their penchant to create fear and mayhem on unsuspecting consumers exceeds their perceived skills and reputation for successfully marketing superior electronic devises.  Consumers may be scared into buying a gas mask on the eve of Armageddon, but how many of us will really be frightened into buying our next television?

Mobile Application Marketability: Shiny, New is No Longer Enough

Mobile Apps

Mobile technology device users have said it countless times over. “There is an app for everything.”  And of course they are all correct.  The mobile application world has evolved into a market of 1,500,000 apps and includes every conceivable use from coupons to cardiac monitoring and beyond.  ABI Research predicts that mobile app revenue will reach $46 billion by 2016, up from about $8.5 billion in 2011.  In such a crowded marketplace it is vital for want-to-be app developers to realize that it is not nearly enough to just create an app and post it in an app store to achieve successful distribution.

Today’s app stores visually resemble a digital replication of the most comprehensive of depositories of the world’s collection of written words.  It is like standing in the center of the most inclusive of libraries, looking at the millions of volumes of books, seeking to find one topic among tens of thousands, reveal relevance among all the irrelevant and to discover the one true masterpiece amidst the masses of tripe.

Being truly original to topic or category will give a new app a “one-up” on all the others, but in such a saturated market it is difficult to come up with an entirely new idea or category. No matter the premise or use, chances are it already exists, so to succeed with another version of an existing app will require focus on what the competitors’ product is missing or how can it be improved.  The issue of usability of mobile phone apps still looms large. There are yet no clear developer guidelines on app usability and the diversity among different mobile models makes it difficult to define a “standard” for the usability factor.

Understanding and identifying existing app shortcomings will require a developer to evaluate “hard” app functions such as; screen resolution, colors and contrast, button functions, font size and style, cursors and keyboards across the vast array of devices.  According to Compuware, about 85% of global mobile device owners surveyed stated that they prefer to use a mobile app that fills their wants and needs of convenience, efficiency, and overall ease of use.  Clearly, the origin of success in today’s app marketplace begins at the beginning of the engineering process, by designing-in uniqueness, features, functions and user benefits that will differentiate a prospective offering from the established field of performers.  Get it right from the start, design-in marketability before the app reaches the marketplace.

The price of apps has a marked effect on consumer demand and app store engagement, and is essential to securing strong visibility, sustained popularity, and continued user engagement. Free and “freemium” apps tend to draw in the lion’s share of app downloads and revenue. Free apps represented 71% of total iPhone App Store revenue for February 2013.  Getting consumers to “pay” in a virtual universe of “free” is a very tall order and one that can only be filled through a properly planned and executed business model and marketing strategy, formulated to work among the masses.

A successful strategy will include elements of market analysis, integrated social media, mobile display, burst  advertising, monetary strategies and the new “big thing” in app marketing; App Store Optimization (ASO).  It’s obviously no longer enough to be the shiny new app in the store and get a few write-ups in the tech press.

Advertising on Toilet Paper… Too Close for Comfort?

Star Toilet Paper

For more than a half a century marketers of everything from toiletries to trash cans have used sexy messages to sell their wares and brands to an often, ad over-exposed consumer.  Through the century advertising vehicles of choice have included every conceivable media and arena such as; billboards, television, radio, newsprint, magazines, direct mail, coupon books, message boards, bulletin boards and placemats.  Today’s communication technology has exploded into digital media; the internet, email, social media and mobile applications. In a world where it is said that nothing is finished until the paper work is done, the ultimate in finishing paperwork is taking on a new dimension in advertising.

Last year, Bryan Silverman called a barbecue restaurant a mile from his campus at Duke University to ask the owner whether he would be interested in saving a little money on his facilities costs. The owner, Bill Whittington, was intrigued. Mr. Silverman offered The Blue Note Grill in Durham, N.C., free toilet paper printed with a Quick Response (QR) code ad for the restaurant, as well as ads for other local businesses, in exchange for stocking the toilet paper in the Blue Note’s bathrooms.

One can only imagine the selling skill that was expended in getting around the “yuk factor” and convincing Mr. Whittington to start using the toilet paper ad to offer a buy-one-get-one-free dessert coupon.  Talk about a potential nauseating moment!  Wittington says, “The toilet paper is a great gimmick for the restaurant, on a busy night, we’ll see customers come out of the bathroom with a foot and a half of toilet paper, and everyone at the table will be looking at it. It creates a lot of conversation in the restaurant, too. People ask if they can take some with them if they are traveling from out of town.”

The concept was the brainchild of brothers Bryan and Jordan Silverman who founded Star Toilet Paper in 2011.  The brothers have turned bathroom tissue into a new media platform and print advertisements and QR code promotions that allow advertisers to offer content that can be downloaded on smartphones. Each roll has a series of eight ads that repeat. Advertisers pay just $5 per C.P.M., or cost per thousand views, to tap into a host of mobile advertising options. By utilizing QR codes and SMS text ads, companies that advertise with Star are able to use the toilet paper as an innovative jumping off point to further brand interaction.  The company concentrates on places like restaurants and theaters, but their goal is to eventually provide their toilet paper to a bigger audience in places like stadiums and university buildings.

The Fish Doctors of Ann Arbor, Mich., an aquarium business run by Tom Campbell, was Star’s first advertiser two years ago. “We’ve been able to flush away our competition since we started using Star Toilet Paper,” said Mr. Campbell, unable to avoid a quip.

Are marketing professionals, who have long advanced the conceptual importance of proper brand placement that doesn’t transfer negative, subliminal perceptions that diminish brand value, experiencing more than just a little digestive discomfort with this new advertising medium?  In an era of contextual marketing, it seems that advertising messages are getting more up close and personal.

Bigger Not Always Better in the World of Marketing

Procter and Gamble Products

Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), an American multinational consumer goods company, is as familiar to the average American as Mom and her famous apple pie.  Established in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1837 by William Proctor and James Gamble, the new company weathered the economic storms and a plethora of competitors to stake out a leadership role in the quickly expanding consumer products market.

Consumers today, as every generation since its founding, are as familiar with one or several P&G brands as they are with their closest sibling.  P&G recorded $83.68 billion in sales in 2012 through product segments including; beauty, grooming, health, snacks and pet care, fabric and home care, baby care and family home care.  To remain ahead of its competitors, P&G spends a reported 9.3 billion dollars globally on advertising and marketing in prior years and retains a world-wide market share of 20%.

When P&G management recently announced that it would be retraining marketing spend to focus on return on investment (ROI), its announcement succeeded in getting the ad industries attention very quickly.   Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said he expects advertising spending to lag sales growth by about 0.2 percentage points this year.  Restraining ad spending below sales growth “does not mean less reach, less frequency,” Mr. Moeller said. “It means more effective advertising, the right mix of media, and, importantly, reducing non-advertising costs that the consumers never see.”  He said the share of P&G marketing spending on digital in the U.S. is “up to 35%,” ranging down to 25% on some brands.  “We have some businesses and brands where digital is incredibly effective and we’re doing more.”  He went on to say, “We have other brands that are on the learning curve. We’ve got to get up the learning curve faster.”

The shift to larger marketing spend to digital should be a concern for large and ultra-large advertising and marketing agencies who have been struggling to retain their margins in the new Digital Age.  But the future of small agencies may be a bit brighter due in part to recent mergers of already giant firms into behemoth conglomerates who are motivated to leverage the relationships, investments and proprietary trading desks of their parent companies, a move that may not be in the best interest of clients.

While not every major marketer is inclined to throw their big ad firm over the side, some notable brands are viewing small agencies as a viable alternative to mega firms, providing an opportunity for small agencies to differentiate themselves and focus on a strategy of delivering value at every touch point with their clients.  As often is the case, mega company shareholders and investors on Wall Street tend to apply pressure to increase focus on revenue and equity, not creativity.  The best innovation and creative ideas usually flow from smaller organizations whose growth projections are more focused on deliverable value and creativity. Big is always bigger but bigger is not always better.  As more mindsets continue to change in the marketer’s arena opportunities for smaller, more creative, nimble and flexible agencies will likely abound.

Now That Is A Spoonful…

Cheerios Commercial

Parent, or not, spend just a few minutes with a kid and it quickly becomes obvious that children view the world very differently than adults.  This fact is no mystery to marketers who understand the impact that today’s young family members have on the buying decisions made by the adults in their family.  Kids represent an important demographic to marketers because, in addition to their own purchasing power (which is considerable), they influence their parents’ buying decisions and are the adult consumers of the future.  According to the 2008 YTV Kids and Tweens Report, kids influence the purchase of breakfast and lunch choices up to 97% of the time, clothing purchases 95% of the time, software purchases 76% of the time, computer purchases 60% of the time and family entertainment choices 98% of the time.  No wonder targeting and advertising to children has exploded over the past several decades.

Parents today are willing to buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing having children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. As well, guilt can play a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids.  And while understanding the world through the eyes of a child has gotten much more sophisticated today, “pester power” (remember the toys in the cereal boxes) remains the staple approach to motivating parents purchasing decision.

With the joining of psychology and marketing, advertisers now have access to in-depth knowledge about children’s developmental, emotional and social needs at different ages, opening up opportunities to engage younger consumers more effectively with messages fine-tuned to attract attention and motivate kids into action.  Not surprising, technology is playing a significant role in reaching the minds of the younger generation and not just by utilizing tools and methods like  immersive “advergames“(video games made specifically to advertise a product),  popular animated characters and mobile apps but also by developing a new technological delivery vehicle to bring important messages down to kids size.

A billboard in Spain created by an organization dedicated to aiding abused children shows a different message to children and adults even if both see the ad at the same time on the same board.  The use of lenticular printing, allows different images to be seen at different vantage points.  In this case, if the billboard is seen by children who are less than 4 feet 3 inches in height, the message is different than when viewed by an average sized adult.

Even with all the science and technology, toys and tools, advertisers are learning that kids have a seemingly odd perspective on the world creating unique social and moral challenges to marketing to a diverse and complex audience.    Saatchi & Saatchi’s famous Cheerios commercial with the interracial couple has opened up the conversation once again on how differently children interpret a message and perceive the world very differently than adults, giving new credence to the fact that much of how adults view the world is dependent upon what we have learned from our family, cultural environment and our exposure to society as a whole.  When explored in a video by the Fine Brothers, kids between the ages of 7 and 13 didn’t understand why the Cheerios commercial may have been thought to be controversial.  But perhaps the best example of how kids see things is evidenced through BBDO’s new AT&T’s “Bigger; Faster; More;” commercials.  Children, and simplicity, are at the core of the classic-in-the-making “It’s not complicated” campaign for AT&T.

Unlike most adults, children often do not understand everything that is going on around them, so they make up stories and their own impressions to describe some situations in their lives like school, toys and parents.  Understanding kids perspectives and perceptions in all things in their worlds view is fundamental to effectively marketing to the younger generation.  Is the method and message controversial or just “stupid”?

Marketers Going Boom or Bust?

It can be said that perception is the most persistent and deceitful form of truth, often grounded in myth and mischaracterization, and sometimes founded on generational prejudice.  In an attempt to allocate marketing spend efficiently and effectively, marketers must make assumptions about the method and methodology of reaching significant and specific market segments.  The accepted perception among senior marketers that baby-boomers – those born between 1947 and 1955, and Millennials’, those born between 1982 and 2004 – are overwhelmingly reluctant or indifferent to the use of the new technologies in brand marketing defies not only logic but the established science.

According to Forrester Research‘s annual benchmark tech study, baby boomers dominate the market in terms of money spent on technology:   “It’s actually a myth that baby boomers aren’t into technology. They represent 25% of the population, but they consume 40% [in total dollars spent] of it,” said Patricia McDonough, senior VP-analysis at Nielsen Co.  A recent report from Pew’s Internet and American Life Project revealed that older generations, particularly baby boomers, are catching up to younger generations in their use of technology. And, while they weren’t necessarily the earliest adopters of the Internet, the first users to have mobile connectivity, or the first ones to sign up for social networking, baby boomer’s growth rate in adoption and use of information and communications technology is higher than, and in some cases surpassing, that of younger generations.

While use of computers was once a sign of generational divide, boomers have lived and worked in an era in which their use was quite common and even necessary, baby boomers are turning to the Internet for news, getting information and downloading music.  The Pew, Generations Online Report, indicates that 86 percent of the baby-boomer generation and 95 percent of Millennials make up the majority of the online population, a demographic that spends more than 50 percent of all CPG dollars and are those responsible for spending 7 billion dollars online every year, more than any other generation.

To spite this reality, marketers are still mostly looking at digital media as a place to use direct-response advertising as opposed to branding, general-awareness advertising, “There’s still a perception that traditional media needs to be a big part of the budget. And TV is still getting a growing piece of the pie, even though TV viewership is down and it’s much more fragmented than ever before,” according to  a chief revenue officer who oversees several major websites devoted to women’s interests.

As consumers move away from traditional print and broadcast media, senior marketers must move marketing dollars towards the new technology media to ensure that their marketing efforts don’t produce a monumental bust when attempting to reach the “boomers”.  To adequately and successfully allocate future marketing spend, todays senior marketers will need to better understand how  generational markets use the new technologies such as; mobile devises, lap top computers and electronic newspapers and magazines and fine tune their marketing strategy to match the intricacies of marketing through new and varied social media outlets.

Baby boomer marketers have long been cautioned not to prejudge a prospect when making an approach and connection with a potential customer and must now not fail to correctly identify and initiate effective and meaningful marketing strategy that is founded on the true reality of the generational gap.

Search for Dear Ol’ Dad

Father’s Day, seemingly a hidden holiday for many retailers and consumers, is a marketing opportunity that represented $12.7 billion in 2012.  Because 80% of Father’s Day shoppers wait until the week before the big day to make a purchase, marketers have an opportunity to better optimize search ads and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies to motivate consumers.

Studies show that consumers will begin researching Father’s Day gifts a month before with purchase activity increasingly as the date nears.  It is important for marketers to use demographic targeting and bid boosting to make sure that the search ads are reaching the correct consumers and targeting the right areas. There are a lot of different “types” of dads that marketers should take into account when filtering searches: fathers, stepfathers, husbands, sons, and even brothers.

Simple tactics such as promoting free shipping, coupons, and discount offers are designed to increase engagement. By creating high-performing search campaigns marketers can maximize their retail revenue this Father’s Day.  Other search terms related to gift categories.

A recent study showed:

  • 41% will purchase “practical” gifts, such as tools, auto accessories, and appliances
  • 23% will choose hobby related gifts such as golf or baseball
  • 21% plan to buy entertainment gifts such as movies or music
  • 21% will buy clothing and accessories such as wallets or ties
  • 15% said they plan to purchase outdoor item such as a barbecue

Although a hidden holiday, marketers have an opportunity to generate revenue before the retail season begins.

Zero-TV: Threat or Passing Fad?

We’re beginning to hear of a new phase in the electronic video universe, “Zero-TV” households.  It may sound familiar, like the new lower calorie sodas or sport drinks which tout less calories, sweeteners and sugar, and while there is a great deal of difference in their meanings, the effect on the television viewing public may hold some similar results;  less traditional television viewing. The term Zero-TV households, refers to those households who no longer watch traditional television offered by cable or satellite providers but who tend to stream video online, via computers, smartphones or tablets.

Nielsen’s Cross-Platform report provides informative data on the changes in the American consumer’s media behaviors. Their latest update to the report features new insights on Zero-TV households and indicate that more than 95% of Americans get their information and entertainment by watching TV in their living rooms through traditional cable or satellite channels.  While just relatively small five percent of viewers fall outside that traditional mold, the group is growing, from two million households in 2007 to five million today.

Some people have had it with TV and the 100-plus channel universe. They have begun to tire of the $100.00 per month bills and have begun to cut the ties with cable and satellite companies and most do not even access free television signals via an antenna, opting to watch shows and movies on the internet or their cellphone connections.  Is the traditional television delivery model facing major changes or is this new trend likely to be just another viewing option, reserved for a fragment of the total consumer audience?

Show creators and networks make money from Zero-TV households through deals with online video providers and from advertising on their own websites and apps, but broadcasters only get paid when they relay such programming in traditional ways.  Unless broadcasters can adapt to modern platforms, their revenue from Zero TV viewers will be zero.  “Getting broadcast programing on all the gizmos and gadgets like tablets, the backseats of a car, and laptops, is hugely important,” says Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).  The Zero TV segment is increasingly important, because the number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.  Last year, the cable, satellite and telecoms providers added just 46,000 video customers collectively, according to research firm SNL Kagan. That is tiny when compared to the 974,000 new households created the year before.

Zero TVers tend to be younger, single and without children but the industry is monitoring the progress to determine if the targeted demographic will change their viewing ways as they grow older and into the more traditional households with children.  Even the Zero-TV market is fragmenting with a host of new buzz words to describe these non-traditionalist viewers. There are “cordcutters,”  those who stop paying for TV completely, and make do with online video and sometimes an antenna.  There are “cord-shavers,” who reduce the number of channels they subscribe to, or the number of rooms pay TV is in, to save money.  Then there are the “cordnevers,” young people who move out on their own and never set up a landline phone connection or a TV subscription. They usually make do with a broadband Internet connection, a computer, a cellphone and possibly a TV set that is not hooked up the traditional way.

The new market segments may be the equivalent of an infant lion in a room with an elephant, but cable and satellite providers should be aware that an infant carnivore, over-looked and under-estimated, can grow and nibble away at the heels of the larger more dominant mammal and eventually drop the behemoth.  As the wireless, mobile phenomenon continues to blaze across the technology landscape, changing forever the methods the public utilizes to communicate, shop, pay their bills and interact with one another socially, traditional television viewing providers of programming should be careful to modify their marketing strategy and viewing delivery products, lest they fall victim to this new consumer trend.

Could television consumers, long-accustomed to being enslaved by the service policies and arbitrary costs of traditional, deeply entrenched cable and satellite providers, be on the brink of perpetuating payback? We’d love to hear from our readers. Are you a cordcutter, cordshaver, or cordnever?

A Less Than Super Sunday

Did you know there was a football game played Sunday night in New Orleans? The Super Bowl matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the winning Baltimore Ravens turned out to be highly competitive and compelling until the end, keeping 200 million televisions locked on CBS’ well-managed but unremarkable broadcast. But notwithstanding the action on the field, there were plenty of other highs and lows for viewers along the way. The great deal of buzz surrounding the pre-game, halftime show, and especially the beloved blocks of advertisements overwhelmed the stature of the contest this year.

The #BrandBowl, originated four years ago by advertising agency Mullen and now managed by boston.com, tracks positive and negative feedback across social media in real time when a new advertisement airs – a reasonable measure of an advertiser’s overall success or failure for their million-dollar budgeted works. Here is how the feedback of millions of social citizens breaks down:

As usual, humor was the focus of a majority of the ads. Winning ads from Taco Bell (Viva Young), Audi (Prom), and Hyundai (Team) hit the mark, as did Doritos (Goat 4 Sale) a fan-sourced creation from the snack maker’s annual Crash the Super Bowl competition. These ads struck the right tone and injected the right level of humor into the lineup to connect with the audience at home. Volkswagen’s (mildly controversial) feel-good ‘Get In, Get Happy’ spot was also a big hit, accomplishing just that; it made audiences feel good, propelling it to the top of the BrandBowl rankings.

Unfortunately, there was more than the usual share of disappointments this year. M&Ms fell short of last year’s triumphs, Budweiser focused too much attention, including the coveted first advertisement, on a new, not-so-exciting product offering (although the King of Beers was redeemed by a terrific addition to its Clydesdales canon, more on that in a moment), and even Coca-Cola, arguably the world’s most beloved brand, failed to deliver with its social media-driven ‘Chase’ campaign, which didn’t really engage the masses at all.

GoDaddy.com’s first ad was a disaster, toeing (and likely crossing) the line of decency, turning the large majority of viewers off. GoDaddy’s ‘uncensored’ ideas have certainly brought the site a lot of attention over the years, even if it has been largely negative. This year’s efforts definitely made a negative impact on the brand. It felt as if this was the nail in the coffin for this campaign, and hopefully, it is time to close the door on this chapter in advertising.

Instead, we would love to see more ‘serious’ efforts – like those from Dodge (Farmer), Jeep (Coming Home), and Budweiser (the aforementioned ‘‘Brotherhood’) that stole the show and really won the day. Humor is a good thing, and has carried Super Bowl advertising for a generation, but these rare and powerful ads we have seen over the past few years have shown that injecting some gravity can go a long way (consider the timeliness and impact of ‘Halftime in America’ last year). Not every brand can pull these ads off, but we are clearly witnessing a shift in tone as viewer attitudes dictate the direction of our advertising culture.