Chapter 9. Tap the Crowd for Quick Action

Each year, the Super Bowl pits the National Football League's top two teams in a championship that is America's most watched event—106.5 million TV viewers in 2010. The audience is so huge that companies go all out to create ads that people remember and talk about. The event is so high profile and the budgets are so enormous that each ad is intensely measured and discussed.

In this way, the Super Bowl is also an advertising championship—and I enjoy the commercial competition more than the football. (Yes, I am a marketing geek.)

I'm always fascinated to see what each company comes up with. Who's investing in Super Bowl ads this year? What products are they talking about? Are they using humor? Celebrity? Drama? Or some other technique?

Each year, I used to watch the game, take notes about the ads, then write a blog post about it first thing the next morning. Many newspapers do the same, sometimes using panels of several "experts" that rank the ads according to various criteria. These articles are often amusing, but they lack something important. They rely on the opinions of just a few people and we don't see them until hours (or even days) after the game is over.

That's why, over the past few years, I began to find the Super Bowl advertising commentary (including my own) somehow weak and unconvincing. Watching the football game itself we know instantly when one team scores a touchdown. The crowd goes wild. At the end of the game, we know who won. ...

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