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Paul Rijnders

What Email Marketers Can Learn from the Super Bowl Ads - Part 2

Feb 09 2011, 01:45 PM by

Yesterday, we talked about how email marketers can learn a lot from watching the 2011 Super Bowl ads. We also extracted two winning strategies that million dollar companies use in their marketing messages and applied them to your email campaigns. Today we'll pick up where we left off.
Strategy #3 - Never Overlook the Entertainment Factor
Audi's "Release the Hounds" ad played out like a 30 second mini movie. Chevy had two humorous tongue-in-cheek offerings that featured state-of-the-art, cinema-ready effects. Even when the production budgets were lower, companies like Wendy's literally gave us slapstick comedy. The more it seemed like TV/movies and less like a typical ad, the more we stayed glued to the TV. We go to our televisions for entertainment, so why can't it work for ads sometimes?

As an email marketer, you may not be able to hire Pixar to do special effects for your campaign. But you at least should ask yourself if what you're sending out is entertaining. Is your copy dry and humorless? Does the whole email (or parts of it) feel polished? If what you're writing isn't engaging, get help with it. Also think of your medium - you are just sending messages to people in their inbox. They are more likely to engage with your message if it coincides with what they came there for (meaningful information, humor, etc.) in the first place. And while most emails look like plain text on white background, you're coming in with colorful templates and maybe even video. That's like the special effects of email!
Strategy #4 - Everybody Loves a Good Sing-Along
I'll admit that I didn't quite get the Budweiser cowboy ad until it reached the end. A tough as nails cowboy walks into a saloon and puts the whole, now silent bar on edge as the bartender hopes to appease him. After the obligatory beer rescue, the cowboy and everyone in the bar start singing "Tiny Dancer."

Just like celebrities, you can't drop your favorite song in an email without proper permission. But what's important here is good ol' warm nostalgia and togetherness. The ad writers were able to create a vehicle in which most people participate in, either physically by singing or emotionally by remembering. You have many opportunities to pull in your email readers by mentioning something familiar that many will identify with. A certain time in history, a common family situation, a common work scenario... these are things that bridge the gap between marketer and reader. There are plenty of connecting opportunities. Make your emails feel like familiar ground and you'll encounter less resistance.
Strategy #5 - A Heart Tugging Story Makes a Lasting Imprint
As a childhood Star Wars geek, it surprises me that in an ad featuring a kid in a Darth Vader costume, Star Wars is definitely not the most important theme. When the kid was trying to emulate Darth Vader's powers (to no avail) and seeing the father use the simple auto-start feature of the car to convince the boy he did have power, the story was really about a warm family moment. The boy could have been dressed as any superhero or villain. My wife already knew about this ad because of the real story of the little boy who stars (though always masked) in the ad.

I still feel emotionally bonded to that commercial. Volkswagen found a way to get in my head for just a little longer and a little deeper than the rest of the pack of advertisers. Your personalized email marketing can be like that. Sure you have goods to sell, information to disseminate and websites to be visited. But how you do it is up to you. Did you sell a home or did you make a dream come true? Do you fix cars or make vehicles safer and more dependable? If what you're promoting is truly beneficial to your subscribers, then there has to be a true feel-good story around it.
Strategy #6 - What about Those Shocking and Risqué Ads?
Let's face it, some ads are out there. I don't think I ever laughed as hard as I did when I watched the extremely direct Pepsi Max ads. If a will-power deficient husband and violence-prone wife didn't get your attention in the second quarter, then the fourth quarter ad featuring a creepy guy's overpowering first date thoughts should have.

These spots were more like SNL skits with clever product placement than traditional marketing messages. As over-the-top as these were, you'd think the only strategy here was shock and awe (with the awe being buzz). But analyze closer. Were there not hints of truth in these exaggerated characters? This type of ad might be out of place any other time, but the appetite is mighty during the Super Bowl. The advertisers know there is a higher tolerance for this with the audience this day.

So how does the email marketer take advantage of this? I'm not sure you want to risk offending people just to get a reputation as a clever email marketer. I'm pretty positive an email list is a decidedly more conservative audience than the Super Bowl audience. But you don't have to be risqué or over-the-top to do something out of the ordinary in an email campaign. Email marketing is usually so mundane. A little push on the envelope might liven things up a bit. But you know your audience, not me. Act accordingly, if not a little outside the box.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Email Marketing News

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