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Don't Believe the Hype

Here at Gillespie Norton, we've been preaching for years that the more creative the commercial, the less likely it will improve the client's position in the mind of the consumer. It's rare that a spot is really clever and creative and also helps to sell product. To further support our claims, we conducted an informal post-Super Bowl survey with 100 people.

In a nutshell, we found that Budweiser and E*Trade were the clear winners. Nearly everyone knew that they were involved with the Super Bowl in some way. Both clients purchased several spots and varied their creative throughout the game. This, coupled with their other advertising efforts, accounted for high viewer recollection. Mountain Dew and FedEx also achieved high viewer recall. However, Mountain Dew aired only two spots and FedEx only one.

These spots were good enough to cut through the clutter, but high recollection was due as much to the cumulative effect of the advertising. Other than these four sponsors, not one advertiser received more than three mentions. In fact, most sponsors were not recalled at all. Many people were able to describe the creative from several spots, but failed to recall what the ad was selling. For example, 30 respondents remembered watching Christopher Reeve walk, but only three knew that it was a commercial for Nuveen. Of those three, not one was sure what Nuveen does. Furthermore, commercials for BMW, Tropicana, Chrysler, Jeep, Corona beer and Motorola, just to name a few, were neither recalled for their creative nor their sponsorship. This holds true for the dot-coms as well. Only five of the 20 Internet-associated companies received any recollection at all.

What were the dot-coms thinking? Not only was their creative not strong enough to make an impact, but they should not have been there to begin with. The game did a 44 rating and reportedly cost over $2 million per :30. Outside of the Super Bowl, no media buyer would ever buy 44 gross rating points at that cost. Maybe it's because egos are involved. It feels good to say, "We're in the Super Bowl this year." But what it comes down to is they're buying hype, not effective advertising.

Sean Gillespie


Gillespie Norton Marketing & Advertising

Drexel Hill, Pa.


We received additional creative credits from TBWA/Chiat/Day and Class-Key Chew-Po for the Digital Entertainment Network spot "Love Child," featured in the March `Work' section. The illustrator who was omitted is Eric Moe; copywriting credits go to Susan Graves, Michael Craven and Margaret Midget.

In the February Campaign story about Careerbuilder.com, from the Martin Agency in Richmond, credits for "Don't Jump" should have included art director/writer Jamie Mahoney and copywriter Marc Deschenes.

In the March "Hot Creative Teams" story, creative credits for the Checkers campaign, from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, should have given a tip o' the hat to art director Andrew Keller and copywriter Bill Wright.

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