Super Bowl Commercials Reveal An Outdated Take On Marketing

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I can’t say I had too many “wow” moments watching this years big budget commercials.  Sure I lol’d a little with the Doritos “Dead Cat Bribe,” what’s funnier than mischievous pets?!   Well maybe an overweight pet hitting the gym to reclaim the body of it’s youth…thanks Volkswagen.  Volkswagen and Doritos aside, it was mostly “more of the same” for this years line up. Cars, beer, soda and more cars.

Anheuser-Busch, however, set the bar at an all-time low.  Their lineup was erratic at best from the introduction of Bud Light Platinum, to two minute long commercials speaking to Budweiser’s heritage, the messages were many and fractured.  But none were quite as offensive as their last minute plug for pet adoption in their “Here Weego” spot.  “Help Rescue Dogs” is the final frame of the commercial, after we spent an entire minute watching grown-up frat boys use and abuse this poor dog named “Weego.”  It’s ironic, but in a sad way, not a good way.

The timing of this is rather relevant and highlights A-B’s somewhat antiquated take on marketing.  In the last year we’ve seen large companies like Kraft, Unilever and PepsiCo reduce their environmental footprint, support noteworthy charities, and augment the nutritional value of their products to better the lives of their consumers.  Marketing is a noble and necessary profession, but we are seeing it being abused more and more.  We need to put the honesty back in marketing to create real and meaningful human connections, not misappropriate tactics for the sake of a sale. Marketing is about bettering lives, and creating value, not just driving business growth.

Marc Mathieu, SVP of Marketing at Unilever put it best when he called for a renaissance of the marketing profession to return it to its “noble” routes.  Marketing should be about driving “social progress” as well as driving sales.  Let’s hope 2012 sees more social change and less “selling for the sake of selling.”

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