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Paul Rijnders

What Email Marketers Can Learn from the Super Bowl Ads - Part 1

Feb 08 2011, 01:42 PM by

The Game Between the Game
You wouldn't be reading this blog if marketing wasn't on your mind. As such, I'm not going to talk about Pittsburgh, Green Bay or the final score. Honestly, I didn't sit on the couch to watch football. I was there for the commercials. I heard a very good game broke out between the ads, though. For me, that's where the true action was yesterday. I don't know how many players on the field were worth $3 million for 30 seconds, but there were over sixty commercials that certainly were.
No One Cares about Your Feelings Today
Speaking of millions, there are probably at least that many blogs going up today with various pundits weighing in with their "feelings" on these ads. Were they entertaining? Did we like them? Were they appropriate?

Let me be frank - the companies that pay for these ads aren't looking for an entertainment thumbs up. What matters most to them is results. That $3 million is to purchase great branding or increased sales. Whether anyone is truly entertained is just the sideshow. Think of it like the cherry cough syrup - you're going to ingest it anyway. Talking about the flavor two days later is irrelevant if you stop coughing.
But I Don't Have $3 Million for Marketing
Today and tomorrow we’ll take a two-part look at the various methods used by the pros in their million dollar ads. Analyzing their varying approaches can help you with your very own email marketing campaigns.

Only the airtime during the Super Bowl cost $3 million. The ideas behind the large budgets can be applied to marketing messages of any budget. The fact that there is so much spent on implementing these ideas should tell you they are worthwhile.
Strategy #1 - Associate Your Company with Superstars
Ozzy Osbourne played the tech-challenged elder while Justin Beiber's youthful, far less crazy train rolled through a Best Buy spot. In a Teleflora ad, Faith Hill was as offended as her viewers when a studio engineer makes the most inappropriate comment. Eminem, Adrian Brody, Diddy… the list goes on.

Of course, you can’t just put celebrity names in your email subject lines and their headshots in the body of your email campaigns without risk of consequence. And please don’t claim a celebrity endorsement that isn’t there. But step back and analyze why celebrities are used. They instantly get your attention, and they give the ad (and by default, the product) more perceived credibility.

There must be famous brands, well-known items or people of importance in your industry. Who or what are the superstars to the people who are on your list? Celebrity is easier to come by in niche markets, no? Get your readers attention with someone or something they recognize. Quotes from recognizable industry figures, an update from a well-known or well-liked person in your company, name dropping your famous brands… these techniques get your readers' attention and give you perceived credibility.

I'm told there are even ways to work in celebs without implying endorsement by way of comment. An example would be stating that some celebrity loves cheesecake and offering your own recipe. Yes, this can work. But this is very thin ice, so skate carefully here, if at all. Your marketing works best when you're not occupied replying to cease and desist letters or worse.
Strategy #2 - You Can't Go Wrong with Babies or Doggies
You can't get through ad school without hearing this adage a few times. When in doubt, roll the babies or small cuddly animals out. Have you seen the eTrade commercials with the talking baby? Personally, they annoy me. And as I sat on the couch grimacing at being subjected to this smug, adult-voiced, never-growing-up infant for yet another year, my wife was smiling ear-to-ear. She loved it and I'm sure many others did too. And that warm fuzzy feeling she got from that baby? You can bet there's at least one neuron in her brain that has that associated with eTrade. Guess which brand has a jump start if she ever needs to roll over a 401k?

The lesson for email marketers here is that your readers are people first. They can’t help but be moved by cute and warm images. If you can set your readers at ease with images of things they like, why wouldn’t they be open to sitting for the duration of the message? You can even double up the effect like eTrade did this year with a baby AND a cat.
We'll Look at More Strategies Tomorrow
We still have a ways to go, but we're running out of space. Tune in tomorrow as we skip the intro and get right to applying more Super Bowl ad strategies to your email marketing campaigns.

Posted in Tips & Resources, Email Marketing News

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