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Building their brand The best ‘Super Bowl ads’ already are on the air

As the editor of NJBIZ, I hear the same concern from top executives at top companies: “How do I grow my brand … properly?”

As the editor of NJBIZ, I hear the same concern from top executives at top companies: “How do I grow my brand … properly?”

Anyone can blitz the public with an ad campaign that brings recognition of the brand name – but does it bring the right type of recognition, a branding that resonates with the audience?

This weekend, many top companies will take to the Super Bowl in an attempt to do just this. A Super Bowl ad — even with the current cost of $5 million for 30 seconds — can bring an amazing one-time ROI, assuming you have the ad the public is talking about (and re-watching) the next day.

I’ll argue the most effective ads for branding already are on the air. And for a lot less.

In an era when companies are devoting so much time and energy to not only build their brand, but also define it, I present three current ads that serve as how-to lessons in branding.

These three all hit the advertising triple play: They build the brand, make you laugh and — most importantly — make you want to talk about them or share them with friends.

And for more than just one day.

Here are my picks for ads airing now that will bring a far better ROI than those airing Sunday. Let me know if you agree.

Geico: “It’s What You Do”


The ad: It appears to be a preview for the next action thriller with a young, well-dressed, spy-type man being chased to the roof of a building by thugs on foot and in a helicopter. Then the phone rings … and it’s his mom. “Well, the squirrels are back in the attic,” she starts while casually flipping through a magazine. “If you’re Mom, you call at the worst time … it’s what you do,” the salesman starts before subtly hinting that you call Geico — “it’s what you do” — when you want to save money on insurance.

Why it resonates: Geico is selling a funny moment in life that most people have never stopped to think about (sort of the entire premise of “Seinfeld”). And everyone notices that the man, despite fighting off the villains, never hangs up on his mom. 

Why it sells the product: Have you ever talked about an Allstate or Liberty Mutual ad for car insurance? This commercial is seemingly selling comedy, not the product. Viewers like that. 

Final thought: We appreciate that Geico frequently changes their pitches (remember the Caveman idea and the amphibious green Gecko campaigns?). But not all of their ideas work. The one with shirtless guys lifting weights while making ‘bro’ jokes is as dumb (and, quite frankly, disturbing) an ad as there is out there right now.

DirecTV: “We’re Settlers”


The ad: “Geminia” plows his front yard in a modern-day neighborhood with an ox pulling a carriage while his son begs him to switch to DirecTV from cable. He refuses, proudly boasting that the family are “settlers” who proudly settle for cable. He tells his neighbor that he’s “working the land, hoping for a fertile spring” with a perfect 17th-century accent and mannerisms, before ordering his son to churn butter and make his own clothes.

Why it resonates: It’s a wonderful take on the word “settler” with great time-period jokes. 

Why it sells the product: It subtly explains why DirecTV is better (listing customer service awards), but does it while you can’t stop laughing. 

Final thought: Comedy sells. And makes a coveted positive impression on the viewers. Remember any Dish Network ads? 

Volkswagen: “Beth”


The ad: A father sees there’s a call coming in from his wife, Beth, while he’s driving, but he doesn’t take it. His two young sons are begging him to have the ultimate father-son day at an amusement park, music studio, movie theatre and bowling alley. It’s all done with the classic Kiss ballad, “Beth,” playing in the background.

Why it resonates: It’s selling father-son moments that any man wishes he could have with his kids. And it has the perfect catch ending: After failing to call his wife back all day, the dad sheepishly texts the key line from the song, “Beth, what can I do?” to his wife. She brings him back to reality by telling him to get milk.

Why it sells the product: Because Volkswagen, in the midst of one of the worst fraud and environmental scandals in modern business history, desperately needs to rebuild its image. And while the 1970s song won’t necessarily resonate with millennials, it will with a great number of people between the ages of 35-55, a key car-buying demographic for the company.

Final thought: I was 7 or 8 when I first heard the song, and I just assumed “me and the boys will be playing” was talking about a father and his sons having fun, not guys in a rock band having an all-night jam session.

This article originally appeared on Editor Tom Bergeron’s LinkedIn blog page. Want to follow NJBIZ on LinkedIn? Click here. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn here.

Tom Bergeron

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