If you were going to make a Super Bowl commercial on behalf of the United States of America, how would you do it? That’s the question Harper’s Magazine asked a group of ad execs and it got me thinking about the right way and the wrong ways to advertise any product.
For example. Super Bowl commercials tend to be funny and over the top, but is that anyway to sell patriotism? An ad that pits Victoria’s Secret models against Obama in a cherry pie eating contest will certainly garner attention and it’s pretty likely that everyone will still be talking about it a day later. But is buzz all you need to call a commercial a success? What if the reason people are talking is because they were offended by the ad. Certainly there would be a large segment of the population who felt it was inappropriate. Does it matter? Is bad buzz as welcome as good buzz?
Look at those Allstate insurance ads that poke fun at how Mayhem can ruin your life. Car accidents are no laughing matter and yet these commercials are getting a lot of attention and are probably causing an uptick in sales.
Which brings me back to the Super Bowl. Doritos recently pulled down an entry from their Doritos Crash the Super Bowl ad contest page because it was offensive. The ad showed a priest so desperate to get more money in the collection plate, he offers Doritos instead of a wafer for communion. Pepsi removed the video after they received complaints not because they themselves, thought using religious parody to sell snacks was a bad move.
The question here is not where do you draw the line, but is there a line? With so little time to get your point across, is it worth offending a few customers in order to get the bigger buzz? What do you think?
And if you want to know how the agencies said they’d advertise America, check out this month’s issue of Harper’s which hits the stands next week.
Thanks to AdAge for the head’s up.