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Despite Super Bowl XLVII's historic 35-minute third-quarter blackout, the Big Show of Super Bowl advertising, what actor Bob Odenkirk's character in the Samsung Galaxy ad calls "El Plato Supremo!" went off with nary a hitch.

"El Plato Supremo!" is Right. 
The cost of a 2013 Super Bowl Ad is more than $4.5 million. We're talking an estimated $1 million -- at least -- to produce a spot, plus an average of between $3.6 and $3.8 million just for the media time. $4.6 million or more is an astronomical amount of money for a 30-second spot. But with an audience of 100 million viewers, the cost comes down to less than 5 cents per person. There is something to be said for economies of scale! 

A PositionistView of 2013 Super Bowl Ads
Most important to us when evaluating commercials is to see how well each adheres to the brand position -- the one idea more than any other the brand stands for in the minds of prospects and customers.

Most reviewers of Super Bowl ads tend to base their opinions on two factors: creativity and overall likeability. Problem is, advertising is not entertainment. Advertising is positioning. The best advertising establishes and reinforces a position in the prospect's mind. When we evaluate 2013 Super Bowl ads, we look past the random cleverness and entertainment value of the commercial -- enjoyable certainly though it may be -- to see how well the brand idea has been delivered. If the brand idea is missing, as remarkable as it may seem, the advertiser could spend millions on great advertising and still fail. (Read that last line again to make sure it sunk in.)

Preliminaries out of the way, here are Innis Maggiore's PositionistView thoughts on a few 2013 Super Bowl ads. 

Standout Spots

1. Wonderful Pistachios, "Get Crackin'." This is a top pick in the newcomer to the Super Bowl category. Smart, sassy, on-culture ads have made pistachios the healthiest hippest nut on the planet. The 2013 Super Bowl ad features Korean hip hop artist Park Jae-Sang (PSY) singing "Crackin' Gangnam Style." The messages are crisp and clear: "Healthy Crackin'," "Lowest Calorie Nut," "Lowest Fat Nut." Inspired? Go to http://getcrackin.com to enter the Crackin' Gangnam Style Sweepstakes. 

2. Allstate, "Mayhem Forbidden Apple." This ad is definitely the best of the Allstate "Mayhem" series of ads to date. But it may also be one of the best overall commercials appearing in the 2013 Super Bowl ad lineup. It is a simple concept, brilliantly funny, uses a brand pitchman we already know, and is wonderfully produced. Mayhem is shown working his special brew of chaos throughout world history, from the Garden of Eden to the Chicago fire and more. The perfect positioning payoff comes when straight man Dennis Haysbert delivers the final punch line, "Mayhem. Has been, and always will be, everywhere. Are you in good hands?"

3. Dodge Ram Truck "Farmer." This ad is definitely one of the most surprising of the Super Bowl and sure to be a fan favorite (Like "Imported from Detroit" last year). Simplicity, stunning photography and an eloquent script brilliantly narrated by the great irreplaceable Paul Harvey is hard to ignore. Poetic. Only problem here, the connection to the Dodge Ram truck seems a bit weak. In fact, it was a let down to find out the product was just a truck. We expected more. How about you?

4. Mercedes-Benz 2013 Super Bowl Ad for the All-New CLA, "Soul." This ad is my most favorite, but it might also be a big fat Mercedes-Benz positioning mistake. "Make a deal with me kid and you can have the car and everything that goes along with it," says Willem Dafoe (aka the Devil, the Big D). The devil's deal is blown when the young man realizes he can bypass "the everything" by just buying the very cool Mercedes-Benz CLA outright for under $30,000. $30,000 is an amazing, even surprising price for a Mercedes. Even more so when you consider that the average price for a new car in the U.S., according to Forbes Magazine, is $30,303. This ad will help Mercedes-Benz sell a lot of cars. BUT...can a premium prestige car really be an average-priced affordable car, too? This goes against the most fundamental principle of positioning -- a brand can only stand for one idea in the mind. As one blogger on YouTube put it, "The best way to ruin your image as a premium brand is to advertise it as affordable." Is this a desperate move to close the gap against rival BMW, an astute repositioning to appeal to a younger audience, or a big brand mistake? What do you think?

5. Budweiser, "The Clydesdales: Brotherhood." The Clydesdales are a widely recognized and beloved symbol reinforcing Budweiser's iconic leadership-heritage position. As long as there is Budweiser, any spot with the Clydesdales will be a good investment. This particular spot is one of the best. It may well be, as one YouTube blogger writes, "...War horse with beer," but emotion sells. And when emotion connects to a strong brand position, as it does in this ad, the result is a sure-fire winner. 

6. Audi 2013 Big Game Commercial, "Prom." 7.5 million views on YouTube. The "other" Bavarian car company, Audi has been coming on strong with an attitudinal position as a brave upstart in the premium German car category for some time. In this ad, an insecure teen prepares to go to his prom stag. His father offers him the Audi. The car inspires his courage. He parks in the principal's spot, he kisses the prom queen, he gets a black eye from the prom king, he drives home elated in his new found bravery. The makers of this spot were smart to capture good shots of the Audi product, too. It's a beaut. Only problem with this commercial? The tagline, "Truth in engineering." Ugh. 

A Few Honorable Mentions

1. Skechers "GoRun2." Most Super Bowl ads use animals as shills. Not this ad. Skechers hits a home run with a very simple demonstration, real fake that it is. The positioning is clear. Want to run fast? Buy Skechers running shoes.

2. MilkPEP, "The Rock's Milk Morning Run." Milk is healthy. "Protein to start your day." This ad delivers on the position in a tight, fun way. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brings boost power to the spot. 

3. SodaStream, "Game Changer." 2.6 million views on YouTube and counting. The ad you won't see on the Super Bowl. SodaStream is a new category of soda machine designed for those who like to make their own bubbles at home. The ad takes direct aim at Coke and Pepsi. "With SodaStream we could have saved 500 million bottles on Game Day alone...If you love the bubbles, set them free." 

4. Coca-Cola, "Chase." Coke is one of those leadership brands strong enough to own an attribute in addition to its position as the original. That attribute is "refreshing" and this ad proves that the quest for thirst quenching refreshment is well worth it. Glad the showgirls won. Who did you vote for?

Losers
Sorry, but these ads are positioning mishaps. What a way to waste $4 million.

1. RAV4, "Wish Granted." Why didn't anyone wish for more RAV4s?  

2. Budweiser, "Black Crown." Ads are as bad as the beer. 

3. "Official Lincoln #SteerTheScript." So you still think it's a good idea to have amateurs write your commercials? Please. 

4. Taco Bell, "Viva Mas." The 1985 movie "Cocoon" in a :30 format. "Think Outside the Bun" was a much better tagline than Live Mas.

5. Doritos, "Goat 4 Sale" was very funny. But here's the rub. Animals, especially goats, eat anything right? I mean I know what my dog is willing to eat. Wouldn't it be more convincing to show people who find Doritos irresistible?

6. GoDaddy "Bar Refaeli Big Kiss!" "When sexy meets smart, your small business scores." Need I say why?

Missed VW. So much has been written already. Another story for another day. Hope you enjoyed this year's Super Bowl installment. Catch you again next year.

Lorraine Kessler is Innis Maggiore's Principal Client Services & Positioning Strategist.


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