John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: The Super Bowl Ads and The Audi Super Bowl Ad

John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week

Brand Winner… And Loser…

John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: 


Winner:  The Super Bowl Ads

Loser:  The Audi Super Bowl Ad                                



Folks, my position on Super Bowl advertising is no mystery: it is without a doubt a waste of money since the basic premise violates the law of frequency –not to mention an almost complete disregard for target markets on the part of the advertiser. 

That said, and assuming that for this reason all of our Super Bowl advertisers “lost,” there is still a winner to be found among our losers.

The winner isn’t about the most clever spot or the most artistically done –it’s about the spot or spots that actually do some of the heavy lifting of marketing a product or service.

We had a few that actually tried this year.

Overall, my criteria for a winner are twofold: the good or service has to be an event/offer for a general audience that’s coming soon (a movie is a good example) or the advertiser can be a web-based service (targeted at a broad audience) that can actually convert a significant portion of web visits in sales.

For this reason, despite their ads sexist nature, wins.  The company’s spots used a cliff hanger scenario (with the cliff hanger answerable on the website) to drive traffic to the website.  Who was the new girl?  And they also offered a few spots building suspense and helping aid the frequency requirement (but still falling short of the necessary 10 impressions).

Groupon was a close second.  Again, for similar reasons.  Their Target Market is broad just like the Super Bowl’s and their ads –funny and controversial— explained the benefits of Groupon clearly and as a result stood a pretty good chance of netting web traffic –especially if the controversy takes hold and they get repeated over and over by the media.  A business like Groupon only works when a huge number of people use it –Groupon negotiates discounts with businesses for its users— and that economy of scale need matches the viewing audience.   

Still, am I convinced that these two companies absolutely needed the Super Bowl… no.  I’m just picking the best of a troubled bunch.  My guess is that the same money spent elsewhere would have netted a bigger payday at the cash register.                                                    


Audi has to be the loser for an ad that made a point so tenuous that I’m still not sure what it was.  

If there is one rule of advertising it should be never showcase twits and/or criminals using your products.   And rule number 1 should be followed up with this: never show your competition’s products in a positive light or be so obscure that your products might be shown in a negative light.  Audi completely failed to observe these rules.

It isn’t a coincidence that the stand out advertising loser was also arguably the one advertisement where it looked like the creatives had kicked the corporates out of the board room and told them never to come back.  There was simply no sales thinking involved and very little concern for the well-being of the brand. 


Audi sells high performance luxury cars with a substantial status quotient.  These are cars that one aspires to own and drive.  Nothing about this commercial is likely to make a viewer aspire to do anything but buy something other than an Audi. 

Bottom line, the ads this year were vanilla and once again reminded me that the Super Bowl ad business is about one agency trying to outsmart another agency.  It’s all about a parade of cleverness not an attempt to serve a client’s needs.  Marketing?  Fuggedaboutit.


If the Super Bowl was a great platform for selling things where are the toothpaste ads?  The greatest marketing company in the world, Procter and Gamble, doesn’t bother with the big game for a very good reason.  They can get much more friendly CPCs elsewhere and they don’t have a corporate ego to soothe.

Still, why not enjoy the ad tradition?  They might not sell goods or services very well, but at least you’re not the one footing the bill.

Don’t agree or have something to add?  Please let me know and give me your ad choice.  For a refresher, check out the ads at

And, remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


If the Super Bowl was a great platform for selling things where are the toothpaste ads?

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