I don’t want to sound like I’m gloating but…

I like being right, don’t get me wrong. But this time, I feel guilty about it.

Back in May this year, I suggested that the World Cup, for advertisers and marketers, was “an opportunity to do something great – or not at all”. And it looks like I’ve been proved right, at least according to a report in Marketing Week.

Which makes me sad.

Because I’m thinking of all of the wasted money that went into campaigns consumers can’t even remember.

Because I’m thinking of the wasted opportunity for true brand greatness that got sucked up into the ‘WE MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE WORLD CUP’ frenzy.

Because I’m thinking about the formulaic approach that some people adopt to marketing and advertising, wherein events like the World Cup HAVE to be leveraged either because everyone else is going to be doing it (bad move for a start) or because it seems like the ‘right thing to do’ – whether it is actually appropriate for the brand or not.

Because I’m thinking about what could have been done with the money spent on these campaigns, how that spend could have been invested elsewhere to drive on-brand, on-target and on-message communications in a much more productive way.

Then I’m left wondering, if I saw the pitfalls, why the brands and agencies out there making these evidently forgettable ads, didn’t. And that makes me feel a little bit happier (the ego getting stroked you see).

I wanted to be proved right. I didn’t want my original posting to get consigned to the bin of internet history. But I didn’t want to be right on the scale that the Marketing Week report suggested that I was.

Because that means a lot of confused consumers and potentially unhappy clients.

And that’s not good for anyone.

Don’t get me wrong – at the moment, at 07.15 on a foggy Wednesday, I haven’t quite got the answer (aside from: produce work that no-one will forget in a generation). According to the Ipsos ASI report, “consumers were overwhelmed by the “extraordinary” amount of World Cup marketing”. I don’t think that Sony (for example) would say to McDonalds:

‘I’m terribly sorry, Ronald, but it’s mighty crowded out there. Would you mind stepping back for a moment so that we can get a little bit of exposure?’

Brands are frankly unlikely to do that – so the field is always going to be crowded. Hence the reason for my original post in May.

What’s most concerning, however, is that the consumer in Ipsos’ survey felt that the ads were mostly “unbelievable” and “irrelevant”. That’s the fault of the creative agencies and their research – or just the strength of the idea. And that might be the fault of the brand’s own advertising manager for agreeing to a weak creative in the first place.

Ads have to be relevant at least. The SMASH robots were hardly believable, but they were memorable to the target audience.

That these are missed opportunities.

There is another way with all of this.
While I hate to harp on about it, Embrace Life scored big with the American market just at the time of the Superbowl.

While commentators were generally feeling unimpressed with the quality of the messaging surrounding the event, they started falling over themselves with Embrace Life – and some even suggested that it should be shown during game breaks (instead of Superbowl-generated advertising).

It has nothing to do with sports. It wasn’t created for the American TV audience (created for a UK one – hence right hand drive car – and for a small UK road safety partnership). But it has something special about it. Something memorable. And it was relevant to the audience demographic we were going after.

So maybe the other way is not to leverage the event itself in the advertising. Maybe the opportunity is to provide a tired, jaded public, hoarse from yelling at the TV screen, with something impactful, something dramatic, something memorable, something relevant to them – but something not related to the sport they’re watching at the time.

Literally, an advertising break. Now how’s that for an idea?


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