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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

If I had an extra $3.5 Million right now, I know exactly what I would do.

I would buy a 30-second television ad spot during the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI (which, for those not familiar with Latin or don't have enough fingers, is 3-1/2 baker's dozen, give or take half a donut).

My commercial would feature a clever little video starring all my grandchildren--with the oldest, now 15 and really good at driver's ed, at the wheel--in a dramatic car chase through the streets of San Francisco... you know, like flying over the steep hills and careening down the crookedest street in the world... stuff like that. (Been done before? Not like this, it hasn't.)

The video would feature every cute grandchild in the car, all dressed alike in a nice plaid or paisley--for color harmony, of course--screaming, laughing, saying clever things and daring fate in a way that makes Indiana Jones look like a girl scout (not that there is anything wrong with that)... and cats, of course to capture those who hate kids but love cats... with fast, dramatic, heart-pounding music.

The car would finally race toward the outgoing ferry to Sausalito as it was pulling away, jumping the Bay and the widening gap between pier and deck, finally doing a screeching 180 halt on the deck (so the front of the car is facing the camera). Then, the cutest of the grandkids (you know who you are, right?) would hop--or crawl--out of the car, look into the camera and say, for all 100 million billion riveted fans (those not going to the bathroom), "Read papa's blog, Itsnutsoutthere.blogspot.com ... so it can go viral!"

Closing shot features the blog's web address as the music sweetens... image fades to black, then cuts to the announcer who says, "And now, on to the game."

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

I'm sure I would get my money's worth--only $3.5 million per 30-seconds (about $167,000 per second)--because good commercials in the Super Bowl, do. Remember the year's best commercial-- the one with the Star-Wars theme showing the cute little boy in a Darth Vader costume? The one where he tries to use "the Force" on his dog, and other stuff, then amazes himself as he tries it on his dad's VW Passat in the drive... AND IT WORKS!

It was the most popular ad on YouTube with more than 45 million views... and the spot generated over $100 million in free publicity. Not coincidentally, the Passat had more sales in its first two months on the market that the previous model sold in all of 2010.

How about the Kraft Foods ad featuring Ted Williams, the homeless man with the magic voice? Though Williams didn't fare as well personally as he couldn't shake his problems, the Kraft people say the Macaroni & Cheese product Facebook page following increased 430 % and sales of the brand grew 13% in the first quarter of last year.

Chrysler hit it big with rapper Eminem taking the viewer through the streets of Detroit in the new Chrysler 200, touting the city and Detroit pride in automaking. Hint: nostalgia, humor and touching story lines work. Inquiries for the car increased 328 % after the ad appeared... and 77,774 Chrysler 200s sold in the 11 months that followed--three times the number of the car's predecessor.

Oh yeah, baby. That's what I'm talking about. Results that make $3.5 million for the spot look cheap... unless you do it wrong.

Yes, some ads flop... but the difference between the good and the bad is often execution... and that sometimes define the fate of the advertiser and its agency... "We love you." or "You're fired." The inevitable logic, and the thing that drives advertising, is that good ads work. It is human nature to be smitten.

Oh, darn! Just tried to place the order for my blog commercial for this year's Super Bowl... and they are sold out, Oh well... there is always next year. And take it from me... as a Cub fan, I know what "Wait til next year" means.

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