Talk about a Hail Mary Pass

OG-AD734_SuperB_GR_20150129172036Did you know that a tiny, albeit well-funded start-up named paid a cool $2.25 million to air a 15-second spot in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s Super Bowl extravaganza! According to The New York Times, uCool was one of 15 first-time advertisers in Super Bowl XLIX, the most since the good old dotcom days.

Some of the other newbies included Loctite, Jublia, and Mophie. Do you remember a single one? I sure don’t. And, if I hadn’t been looking for it, I would have missed the uCool spot entirely.

I did, however, notice the totally bizarre Carnival Cruise Line spot with a voice over from the late John F. Kennedy (since when does one mix the gravitas of a slain president with the fun of a cruise?). I also watched the Nationwide Insurance spot which was ill-advised to say the least. Talking about death and dying in the midst of the worldwide festival that is the Super Bowl is in such poor taste. And the McDonald’s Valentine’s Day promotion that’s supposed to bring us all together through peace, love and hamburgers was pure hokum.

But, I digress. Back to the start-ups and their huge gamble in plunking down millions of dollars in the hopes that a 15- or 30-second commercial will suddenly make them a household name. Apparently it works every once in a while. The Times cited Chobani Yogurt as one example.

But, in my mind the odds remain ridiculously high. And, you tell me, is it wise to risk one-fourth or one-half of your entire marketing budget on one 15- or 30-second spot? That’s riverboat gambling at its best. And, woe betide the marketing officers who rolled the dice and came up with craps. Their tenure may be even shorter than their 15-second spots.

In my mind there are far better, and smarter ways, to spend $2.25 million through a blended strategy that includes earned, owned and paid media. Why through a desperate Hail Mary pass when it is so unnecessary? I’ve had it. In fact, in my self-appointed role as PR referee, I’m throwing a flag at all the newbie Super Bowl advertisers and penalizing them 15-yards for unnecessary riskiness.

5 thoughts on “Talk about a Hail Mary Pass

  1. Hello Mr. Cody,

    I agree with your idea about the start ups companies and their hail mary. I also was disturb and felt strange about many of the commercials that played during the Super Bowl, like the Carnival commercial. My favorite of them all was the commercial about the girl who’s feet were amputated ; although that wasn’t the best pr move either because I remember the company seeming totally unrelated and in my opinion nameless.
    On to other things,
    My name is Mackenzie and I am a student at BSU. I was wondering what does PR mean to you and how do you as well as your company define it? My class and I would really appreciate a personal response.
    Maybe I could reach out to you better through your business email, if that is better for you.
    Thank you in advance,
    The APR Group of Bowie State University

  2. Very interesting, Matt. I appreciate the insight and can’t believe the Reebok spot was a direct rip-off of your work. Nothing super about that.

  3. In this case, it’s obviously a vanity issue, not a studied, intelligent marketing discussion. I have to say, my biggest beef is with Reebok’s “Be More Human” spot. Venables Bell & Partners blatantly copied this agency’s Definitions ad campaign, which has been running on TaxiTV in NYC for the last year or so. They should be embarrassed on a Super scale. And it’s not nearly as well written. I suggest Reebok take a closer look at the folks spending so much of their bloody money on poached work. And instead of Be More Human, how about Be More Original?

  4. proves two things: people have learned nothing since 2000, and startup execs with OPP will often have more money than brains. Oh, and I hated the ad.