Amazon just released its 2019 Super Bowl ad:
Like Amazon’s “Not Everything Makes the Cut,” Super Bowl ads have become more than a commercial. Yes, they convey what a firm is saying about itself. Also though, they represent a slice of history.
Super Bowl Ad History
As the first real Super Bowl ad, Apple’s legendary “1984” set a standard for all that followed.
The ad was a secret until the game. Taking us to George Orwell’s “1984,” Apple’s “1984” echoed Cold War rivalry (and IBM?). The people who created the spot said they were thinking of how computers were an agent of free information while their heroic female hammer thrower represented the spirit of liberty.
Most of all though, the ad’s unconventionality foreshadowed the creativity that Apple brought to tech:
For the top and bottom of the dot.com bubble, we can look at E-Trade.
E-Trade’s “Wasting $2 Million” (2000)
With the price of a 30 second ad rising to $2 million, the Super Bowl gave newborn dot.com companies a way to say, “look what we can afford.” And that is precisely what E-Trade did in its “Monkey” ad. One reviewer called it “Impossibly stupid. Impossibly brilliant:”
E-Trade’s “Ghost Town” (2001)
E-Trade’s “Monkey” debuted in 2000 when there were 14 dot.com companies with Super Bowl ads. The next year? Just three. Between March 11, 2000, and October 9, 2002 Nasdaq plunged from 5,046.86 to 1114.11.
In 30 seconds, E-Trade told the story. Do note the demise of the pets.com sock puppet:
Last year, again with humor, E-Trade took us to an economic problem–this time it was inadequate saving. With the looming threat of Social Security and Medicare shortfalls, we could look back and say this ad was prescient:
Our Bottom Line: ROI (Return on Investment)
The Super Bowl’s 100 million (or so) viewers should make this year’s 30 second ad worth its $5.2 million price tag. The problem though is that some ads don’t create ROI–a return on so huge an investment. According to one advertising guru, the ad needs to stay on a message that will bring customers. It should relate to the company’s business and the value it creates. What to avoid? Social engagement that achieves little more than millions of “likes.”
Where are we? As you enjoy this year’s Super Bowl, do think a bit about the memories and the money that the successful ads will create.
My sources and more: For more detail about ads and their history, I recommend Vox, Time, Quartz, and especially Adage. Then, adding to the E-Trade ad, at econlife, we have more on retirement savings.