Super Bowl

Without Strategy, Office Monkeys and Talking Babies Are Just Silly Jokes

Why Cleverness Alone in Your Super Bowl Ad Just Won't Cut It

By Published on .

Peter Krivkovich
Peter Krivkovich
When I heard rumors that our former client CareerBuilder was reprising our "Working With a Bunch of Monkeys" campaign for this year's big game, I wasn't surprised. Not in a smug, "It was a brilliant idea" way -- OK, maybe there was a hint of that -- but primarily because it struck me as indicative of the broader challenge facing marketers so prominently on display in our annual showcase of "the best" the industry has to offer: an overriding focus on schtick over strategy.

CareerBuilder is hoping to bring back what works. And, boy, did it work. The original campaign and the MonkEMail extension it spawned were huge successes, helping CareerBuilder overtake within one year.

But it wasn't the monkeys. It could have been clowns. Or donkeys (which it sometimes was). What led to the campaign's success was the insight -- going after people who were frustrated in their jobs vs. those already looking for one.

As far as advertising platforms go, it doesn't get any bigger than the Super Bowl. Sure, you have to entertain. But betting on sound marketing strategy and powerful insights over one-off gags that game the Ad Meter will pay dividends.

Take Hyundai's Assurance offer campaign, launched during Super Bowl 2009 in the depths of the recession. Hyundai turned the category on its head and saw both sales and market share soar as other automakers struggled.

Or take E-Trade's talking-baby campaign: "So easy a baby could do it." A fresh insight for the category and so well-executed that this adorable brand ambassador and his posse still delight three years later as E-Trade reached a record of new accounts and account activity, even during the recession.

Or one of the most memorable ads ever for a packaged-good brand, Tide's "Talking Stain" from Super Bowl 2008. P&G nailed the target , the insight and the execution and in the process helped reverse a declining share trend for the brand and create a platform for consumers to spoof the ad and share their own Tide to Go stories.

Gratuitous humor is -- gratuitous. So before you lay down $3 million to be in the game, think beyond it. Brand and business results are what matter, period.

So, yes, be funny. Be outrageous. Have talking babies, dressed-up monkeys, whatever. But do it because there is a strategic insight, and your huge Super Bowl audience will return your investment in spades. Do it because it's just clever, and it will be as silly an investment as the spot itself.

Peter Krivkovich is president and CEO of Cramer-Krasselt
Most Popular