Fire up your tractor and follow us! The genius of well-executed advertising

For all of us marketing geeks of the world, the Super Bowl is more than a football game. Much more. It’s the advertising showdown of the year, and we look forward to pausing, rewinding and replaying our favorite commercials endlessly before we get to the office Monday.

This year offered tough competition. I mean, any night of TV that features Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd alongside Amy Poehler HAS to be great, right? But in a stroke of feel-good genius, it was Dodge Ram Trucks that stole the show. Using a classic Paul Harvey speech and some insanely powerful photography, this auto maker managed to showcase, simultaneously, America’s golden past and our own personal “best self” future. All through the lens of farming, of all things. (Speaking as a farm girl, I can tell you we are mocked about a bajillion times more often than we are respected.)

What made Dodge’s advertising so effective? The Marketing Leadership Council takes an all-business approach, saying it was the way the ad dovetailed with Dodge’s overall messaging. Uh… OK, whatever. That’s some cold corporate buzzkill – exactly the opposite of why the commercial resonated. It was effective because it played to our emotions and our ego. It gave us a way to feel like we can make a positive difference, like we can exert control over things in our society that are bigger than any one person. And that’s the genius of advertising.

At its best, advertising – in any medium – does a couple key things perfectly:

  1. Puts the advertiser and the audience on the same side.
  2. Gives the audience something (instead of just asking for their money and their time).

While the Super Bowl shows off the best TV advertising has to offer, it’s definitely not the only time ads can be a two-way street. (Obviously.) And an effective ad doesn’t have to manipulate heartstrings or incite a riot. For example, look at the way Air Optix positions itself as a thought leader and gives its audience something practical and useful in return for simply clicking on its content marketing spot in one of MultiBriefs’ electronic newsletters.


It’s simple, it’s substantive and it opens a dialogue between the advertiser and the audience. Perfect.

Another example of lights-out advertising came from Oreo’s cookies – during the power outage at New Orleans’ Superdome. While Nabisco wasn’t the only company to pounce on the situation, it was one of the first and one of the best. Check out their quick thinking and their expert use of Twitter as an ad channel. In one fell swoop, Nabisco gave us something to laugh about, reminded us they’re “one of us” watching the same train wreck we were watching — and positioned the Oreo as coming to the rescue, even in the ill-fated Superdome.

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