SuperBowl XLIV will provide another interesting event for Marketers to think and talk about. While always designed to be entertaining, the advertisements that make the the SuperBowl “the” marketing event of the year are rumored to be even more entertaining due to the “Great Recession,” and will hopefully lift viewers’ spirits up. But this year, The Marketing Consigliere will not critique the ads; he is not as pleased this year regarding the advertisements, but not because of their famed jocularity.
The reason he is not as pleased this year is because this year, based on AdAge’s list of SuperBowl XLIV Advertisers, the only ad that could be considered B2B is GoDaddy.com, which has a B2C edge to it since any drunk football fan can buy a domain name. And the rumored Google ad will probably be B2C. Ever since the “Herding Cats” ad by the old EDS (now HP Enterprise Services), a bar was set for B2B Marketers. They have every right to market to the SuperBowl audience, just like B2C Marketing professionals do. But over the past few years we’ve seen less and less B2B ads.
Why is this? Certainly large B2B companies have the budgets, but perhaps not the justification. The Herding Cats ad was primarily a branding ad, and The Marketing Consigliere understands that the branding folks, while bright and creative, are not aligned with the “hunters” of a company – that is, Sales. It is hard to measure the effects of branding initiatives and ultimately those initiatives do not directly impact the top line, which most executives find rather important.
The truth is, even with all the social media and Internet tie-ins that contemporary SuperBowl ads are incorporating, the main medium is broadcast televeision, which is still a mass medium. Ultimately, the most successful B2B marketing efforts using a mass medium are not necessarily that of branding, especially for complex intangibles such as IT consulting. No, just like soft drinks and snack foods, B2B products that are transactional, frequent, and not complex are probably the best suited for SuperBowl commercials.