Why the Super Bowl is Traditional Branding’s Alamo

Jeremy Epstein Business

We’re coming upon the single biggest advertising day of the year, the Super Bowl (er, Big Game).

It’s the last bastion of the TV-media industrial complex where broadcast television delivers huge audiences who don’t change the channel in real-time to advertisers.

And the brands and ad agencies come out in force, spending $5 million for 30 second spots.

Sure, sometimes the ads are entertaining, but do they really move the needle? That’s tough to say for a slew of reasons, but the CMO of P&G, the world’s largest advertiser isn’t happy about the returns he’s getting.  In fact, he even goes so far as to say that

“Problems in what he called the “media supply chain” may help explain why the U.S. has anemic economic growth despite $200 billion in annual ad spending, including $72 billion on digital.”

I’ll go one step further. More ads are bought out of desperation and lack of innovation than true ROI. Plus, in my opinion, the “top 10” ads from this year aren’t even that good. Granted, that’s subjective.

I think what’s happening is we’re witnessing the last stand of an era that’s on the verge of obsolesence. An Alamo of brand marketing that begin in the 1950s but, with the fragmentation of channels into the billions, only the “Big Game” remains.

Meanwhile, brands and agencies haven’t fully recognized that this battle is lost.

It’s time to find a new way to win, focused on

While it pains me to say it (my dad in from San Antonio), while the gallantry of the Alamo defenders is remembered for their principled stand, in the end, they all died.

It’s possible that this year’s ratings decline in the NFL is a blip. Certainly, they are concerned about it.  I think more seismic changes are afoot though. Time will tell.  At least, unlike the actual Alamo, some of the ads will be fun to watch, even as the art form itself goes the way of French promotional posters.