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AMAOKC Super Bowl Panel 2014

AMAOKC Super Bowl Panel 2014

It’s over a week in the rear-view mirror, but there’s still plenty abuzz about the incredible insights offered by the 2014 Super Bowl Panel hosted by the American Marketing Association of Oklahoma City (AMAOKC).

Vice President (and soon-to-be-President-Elect) Stew Law, assembled this group of experts who offered their insights on a selection of the commercials. Stew, well done.  A tip of the hat to you, sir!

The all-star panel included Steve Sturges from VI Marketing and Branding, Susan Harkness from OG&E, Matt Stratton from Tinker Federal Credit Union, and Randy Bradley from Jordan Advertising. Thank you, professionals!

I had the honor of being asked to reprise a role I’ve had at this event before, which was to serve as the moderator. As I posted here earlier this month, I thought the overall offering of commercials at this year’s Super Bowl was as pathetic as the game itself. But there were many powerful marketing lessons to be learned from them and these panelists helped us examine many, and for that we’re all grateful. One theme they repeatedly drove home was that if these commercials don’t move the “sales needle,” they aren’t worth the insane budgets they cost to make.

I felt like giving a loud “Amen!” from the lectern, but that wouldn’t have been very “moderate” of me, would it?

This could be the last time I’m asked to moderate the panel (I’m getting a little long in the chin like my non-evil twin, Jay Leno), so if that turns out to be the case, it’ll be a good one to go out on! Seriously, it’s an honor to be asked to serve a chapter I love so much (going on 20 years now!), and a privilege to share the stage with these marketing pros, so thanks everybody!

The only purpose of advertising is to make sales.  It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.” – Claude Hopkins, My Life in Advertising


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The following passage is from Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s book, Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America.

Nineteenth-century markets and general stores were overstuffed with merchandise. Products poured out of barrels or were haphazardly piled on top of one another in crates. Consumer goods were shelved rather than displayed. In the mid-century, space became luxury because it implied scarcity. When a void is created around an object it commands a single focus and creates a dialogue with the customer. One dress elevated on display speaks to women more forcefully than twenty on a rack.”


She’s talking about the evolution of retail merchandising, but the lessons could just as easily be applied to copy writing or any number of marketing activities. Try it!


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Good marketing is indeed that which gets RESULTS! As David Ogilvy famously said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t very creative.

The Kodak commercial below is worth a look. And yes, I hear you, it doesn’t matter if I love it or if millions love it or if it brings tears to our eyes or if it wins awards or if we buzz about it to the point that it goes viral. The only real measure of whether it’s “good marketing” or not is whether or not it sells product. All that aside, I LOVE this commercial!

I think there is still a lot to be said for being able to powerfully DRAMATIZE the benefit YOUR product offers in a way that connects with the customer not just on a logical level, but on an emotional one.

Looks like CVS is taking a bold step to ensure that its actions are congruent with its mission. If you haven’t heard this story yet, you can find it by clicking on the picture below.

Every book you ever read about strategy says that the mission and core values of the organization should drive every decision it makes, so bravo to CVS for walking that talk!

Of course, it’ll be interesting to see what this does to their stock price…

Story from Newser.com
Click to read…



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In  a couple of weeks I’ll be moderating the AMAOKC’s annual Super Bowl Showdown. I don’t get a vote in what gets picked or anything, but if you’re interested, here are some that I thought were worth talking about. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these make the cut. My bet is the Radio Shack one definitely will, but who knows what else.

I had picked the Broncos to win, after all…

You’ll note that I only talk about a few commercials here. That’s not just in the interest of saving your time. It’s because, frankly, I thought the commercials were as pathetic as the game. I saw a lot of what marketing author Jack Trout calls “Marketing Theater” during this year’s Super Bowl, but not a lot of what I’d call good marketing messaging. You can read more about where I’m coming from on that here if you like.

Overall I thought it was an ugly game and a pretty lackluster effort displayed in the commercials. But here are a some that I thought were worth discussing.

Brand – Hyundai

Why I liked it – The production value probably won’t move the “wow” needle with too many folks, and granted it might not be considered “Super Bowl-worthy” for that reason. But it is mention-worthy because it does a good job of doing what good marketing has always done, which is to dramatize the product’s benefit. View commercial

Brand – Radio Shack

Why I liked it – They grab our attention by admitting a negative! They poke a little fun at themselves while reminding us that they used to be a recognized expert retailer in electronics. Now they’re inviting us to visit the “New” Radio Shack and give them a shot to prove they’re relevant again. This ad may indeed get me to think of them first when I have an electronics purchase to make, which could result in me visiting their store and buying. It may encourage others in their target market to do the same. That’s what a good ad is supposed to do – Get results! View Commercial 

Honorable Mentions:

Jeep Cherokee’s “Restless” – Not bad storytelling, but I always love these commercials that show all these daredevils doing daredevil things, telling you in the voice-over that you can do all this stuff, and and then there’s tiny print on the bottom of the screen saying, “Closed course….coordinated stunts….dramatization…do not attempt…”  View Commercial

I liked Stephen Colbert’s commercial just because I’m a huge fan of his and I like how he pokes fun at the whole process.  View Commercial

The Bruce Willis Honda commercial was compelling in the way the reveal of the message was done, and the commercial showcased Honda’s safety record as an added benefit to complement its already impressive quality record. (Sorry, couldn’t find this commercial online)

Fox deserves some credit because any time they host the Super Bowl they make sure to promote their sister channels and any of their programming they want to plug.

My first reaction to the Kia commercial was that it was a little flashy and overdone considering the product, but if their goal is to compete in the luxury market, they’ve got to work their way into the mind with a different “story.” Big and flashy may be what is called for in that case. Whether or not Kia can actually compete in the luxury market is a bit of a gamble, but if their entire effort is on as grand a scale as this commercial, they may surprise me. View Commercial



For as long as I’ve had the honor of appearing on your screen as a Blogger, I have made essentially an annual tradition of bashing the whole pomp and circumstance surrounding the time of year I’ve come to call “Super Bowl Season.” I have stated often, and continue to believe, the hype about the grandeur of the ads is misplaced because the focus is on the window dressing rather than on what marketing is supposed to do, which is to get results. And in most cases, that means to sell product!

You can read those rants here if you like, but my main gripe has been that as the price of Super Bowl advertising goes higher, so does the difficulty in achieving a respectable return on the marketing investment.

But could it be that your ole buddy Dr. Burt has shot off his big mouth again without thinking? A couple of observations thanks to two marketers I greatly respect, Brian Blake and Tim Berney, have caused me to give some more thought to the matter. But don’t tell them that!

Brian sent me links to two articles that are packed with interesting Super Bowl ad stats and visuals. One of the many points the articles make is that even though a 30 second spot in Super Bowl 2014 does cost a whopping 4 Million-Plus, because the size of the audience is so huge, it actually makes the cost-per-viewer isn’t any higher than it is during normal prime time. The article gives two other reasons why Super Bowl ad space deserves respect, and I’ll let you see that for yourself. Here’s the link.

Tim was interviewed in the Daily Oklahoman last week. One of the many good points he made was that if these ads are component parts of a bigger strategy, rather than just something randomly done to attract all those eyeballs at that one point in time, then the chances of the campaigns contributions to a bigger payoff go up considerably. He’s got a relevant take on how social media impacts the whole event, too. It’s a great article and I’d urge you to check it out here.

You can visit with both Brian and Tim at the AMAOKC’s Annual Super Bowl Showdown in a couple of weeks.



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