Friday, February 10, 2012


Sunday, February 5, was a big day for advertisers in America. The Super Bowl, the most watched show on TV, was aired that day. For the third year in a row, Super Bowl has set the record as the most watched television show in US history. Not just the game, the Super Bowl has become a showcase of some of the most remarkable advertisements, and people wait to see the commercials aired during this time as much as the game. After all, some of the most iconic ads have made their debut here. This year also witnessed some of the best ads and taught us a thing or two about what good ads are made of.

An estimated 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl this year. The only other program that beat this record was Madonna’s show during halftime of the game. It was viewed by 114 million people . There seems to be something about ‘halftime’, for the most acclaimed commercial during the Super Bowl was Chrysler’s ‘It’s Halftime in America’. Aired during the game’s halftime, the commercial started by equating the game’s halftime with America’s halftime. Just as during halftimes, teams are discussing strategies to win the game; America also needs to find a way out of this mess that the country is in right now. The one city that is showing the way is Detroit. It lost everything with nearly all car companies going bust, but it did not give up and today, it is slowly but surely making a comeback. The Americans should do the same. After all, as the advertisement says, “This country cannot be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do, the world is going to hear the roar of our engines”. The commercial was so inspiring that in many places, people gave it a standing ovation.
The message was right, the time it was aired (during halftime) was right and the star of the commercial Clint Eastwood was just right too. He had starred in the much acclaimed film ‘Gran Torino’, which was set in Detroit City, making him the right choice for the commercial. Overall, it worked out to be the perfect package, which is why, out of the numerous ads aired during the game on Sunday, this one stood out. No blondes, no blokes, no stunning locales; just a plain simple message that touched people was what was responsible for its success. That is the power of a commercial. It makes a place for itself in your mind whether you want it or not. It’s much like ‘Jerry’, the cute little naughty mouse in the Tom & Jerry show, which we loved watching as children. If advertisements are ‘Jerrys’ then we are the ‘Toms’. Tom, like us, believes that Jerry cannot overpower him, just the way we as viewers believe that advertisements cannot influence us. But just as Jerry always wins, good ads always manage to make a place inside our subconscious mind and influence our buying behavior. How many times have you caught yourself singing the tunes ‘Har ek friend zaroori hota hai’ or ‘Hum mein hain Hero’? Good ads have the power to remain in our minds and our thoughts, and even change them.


If you can make someone laugh, it is the quickest way to bring down barriers and make a friend. A lot of advertisers use this trick. It is very effective, but it is also very risky; for if humor goes wrong, it can seriously offend people. This particular commercial managed to offend its competitor. Aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, GM advertised for its Chevrolet Silverado. The commercial showed how the world would end in 2012 (according to the Mayan calendar) and only those who drove the Chevrolet Silverado had chances of survival, not the ones who drove a Ford. The advertisement showed how a man and his dog managed to survive the catastrophe because they were safe inside their Chevrolet. As he drives around, he meets his friends who also survived because they were inside their Chevrolets. However, one friend is missing, so he asks, “Where is Dave?” His friend answers, “Dave could not make it; he drove a Ford.” As expected, Ford did not take it lightly and its legal cell filed a complaint demanding that GM apologize and withdraw its ad from everywhere. GM, in return, said that the ads were over the top and in a fun filled manner, they tried to bring out the fact that their pick-up truck was dependable even in the most dangerous of circumstances. They believed in their claim and were ready to wait till the world ended to prove their point… and then apologize if needed. But till then, all people who were worried about the Mayan calendar prophecy coming true had better buy the Chevrolet Silverado!! Not only did Chevrolet get noticed and talked about, but Ford was left rubbing its hands for it had not aired any commercial during the Super Bowl and therefore could not make its presence felt.

The Super Bowl actually turned into a cheeky war zone where brands took a dig at their competitors. After all, not everyday do you get more than 100 million people to watch you. So Samsung continued to take a dig at Apple. Its positioning strategy is to be remembered as the ‘anti-Apple phone’. Apple, on the other hand, is known for its most iconic Super Bowl ads (remember the 1984 ad), but was conspicuous by its absence and Samsung had a field day advertising its phone as the ‘next big thing’. The oldest rivals Coke and Pepsi had a face-off too. While Pepsi played it safe with an interesting commercial featuring Elton John, Coke decided to poke Pepsi; albeit in a very pleasant, interesting and indirect manner.

As the Super Bowl started, so did Coke’s Polar Bowl. Two polar bears rooting for opposing teams, drinking Coca-Cola and watching TV in their igloos were seen in the Coke commercial featured during the game. However, viewers could visit cokepolarbowl. com, which was hosted within Facebook, to see the bears watch the game. Now why would you do that? Because the bears were reacting to the action in the game and also to tweets and comments from viewers.

The cute polar bears made an interesting view and soon more and more people logged on, to see how they were reacting to the game and the commercials and their tweets. Their reactions had the social media world buzzing. The bears crossed their fingers during tense moments of the game and they stood with their paws to their hearts during the Clint Eastwood commercial. They dozed off during the Doritos ad (it’s a part of PepsiCo!), and they walked out of the room during Pepsi’s ad. They even read out interesting tweets from fans. Getting the polar bears to respond in real time was a difficult task and the team at Coca-Cola rehearsed for three months, using footage of old games to prepare themselves. It all paid off, for viewers enjoyed it so much that not many left the page after logging in, increasing traffic way beyond the expectations of Coke. Many even put their laptops next to the TV to enjoy the game and the reactions of the bears simultaneously!

Polar bears had been a part of Coke’s commercials in the 1920’s, and Coke decided to bring them back. This was the best way to bring back the old mascots and also take the old rivalry (with Pepsi) a notch higher!

The right dose of humour wins all battles, especially those of market share. And Coke has once again proved with this strategy why it’s the ‘Real Thing’.


The cute ad of McDonald’s, where a little boy refuses to be a boyfriend of the little girl because girlfriends are too demanding, but changes his mind instantly once he comes to know that all she ‘demanded’ was a McAloo Tikki burger, makes you smile. The innocence touches you. So does the Cadbury ad where the wife asks the husband, “When was the last time you said ‘I love you’?” and then blushes as she realises that everyday that he gave her a Cadbury bar, it was his way of saying, ‘I love You’. Sweet gifts for sweet words.

Indians love emotions and feelings and ads that make them smile or laugh are always a big success. The Tanishq diamond jewellery ad starring Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan made many men smile.

Be it advertisements or movies or even your Tom & Jerry show on TV, the reason they are so popular even after so many years is because they make you smile & laugh and no one gets hurt. A good advertisement makes you smile without poking fun at others. So if you want to make a good ad, it’s time to watch some TV shows, and get inspired.


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