Tag Archives: advertising

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2014

Image of the Super Bowl XLVIII logo.Another Super Bowl has come and gone and that means it’s time for a breakdown of my top five ads from one of the biggest days in sports. There’s not much to talk about in the 43-8 beating the Broncos took from the Seahawks so we’ll just dive right into it.

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads seemed pretty weak at first glance. Maybe I was a little distracted from munching on a delicious assortment of Chex Mix, pizza and other delicious treats. Maybe the game was so boring that I just had too many side conversations and browsing on my iPhone to catch all the details of the commercials. In any event, upon a thorough review of each game-day ad on YouTube, it turns out there were some pretty high-quality ads. I’m still a fan of the slapstick comedic spots, but this year seems to have fallen suit with 2013 in leaning toward the dramatic and heart-warming side of life.

Below is my fourth annual list of the top five spots that aired during Super Bowl XLVIII. View my top five list from previous years here.

#5. Audi: Doberhuahua

This ad was a must for my top five list for the sheer chaos that ensued during the 60 seconds of terror. Things got a little weird, but you gotta love the appearance from Sarah McLachlan and just the mere thought of a Chihuahua with a snarling, oversized Doberman head running rampant in a zombie apocalypse-style setting. It was certainly talked about at offices around the country on Monday.

#4. Jamie Casino: Casino’s Law

You probably weren’t expecting any local ads on this list and you’d be right in assuming I’ve never featured one before. However, this is the most extravagant local spot I’ve ever seen–Super Bowl or not–and it deserves to be on this list. As AdWeek put it, Jamie Casino takes on a Saul Goodman-esque role, who was a “lawyer to the crooks until something bad happened to him—and he reinvented himself.” Please watch the full two minutes of local advertising glory. 

#3. Budweiser: Puppy Love

Here’s a sweet quasi-followup from Budweiser’s “Clydesdales Brotherhood” spot from last year. This ad probably would have slipped into the No. 2 position had the music been of a different tune–I can’t stand Passenger’s voice. My opinion aside, the girls in the room were nearly in tears before the commercial ended and it’s a must for this list.

#2. Chrysler: America’s Import (Bob Dylan)

This ad being in the No. 2 position reveals two things about me: 1.) I’m a sucker for Americana and 2.) I love Bob Dylan–my parents even thought was good idea to name me after the legendary American singer-songwriter. There’s a couple moments of this ad that I think are a little weak and it probably could have been done in 1:30 or even 60 seconds, but again, you gotta love the Americana set to the tune of Dylan’s aging voice and iconic music. Actually, I’m probably only justifying the presence of this ad on my list because I am such a Bob Dylan fan. Who cares, it’s my list.

#1. Doritos: Time Machine

After four years of reviewing Super Bowl ads, the score is even: two dramatic ads and two funny ads clinch the top spot. By now you should be familiar with the annual Doritos Crash the Super Bowl online commercial contest. The contest made a big splash when it debuted in 2006 and has produced some of the most memorable Super Bowl ads of the past decade. Indeed, I’ve now placed three Doritos ads throughout my four years of top five lists. This spot has it all: Short, cute and hilarious. I could watch this over and over and get a smile on my face every time. Well done, Mr. Anderson and good luck in your future film career.

Bonus spots that didn’t quite make the cut:

CarMax: Slow Clap – Who doesn’t love a good slow clap? Plus a cameo from Rudy!
RadioShack: The Phone Call – Everything you loved about the 80s.
Coca-Cola: It’s Beautiful – Nicely done and bold move–even stirring up a little controversy.
Chobani: Bear – More Bob Dylan!

About these ads

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2013

It’s time for a breakdown of my top five spots from advertising’s biggest day. This was certainly a good year for Super Bowl advertising and an even bigger year for social media during the big game. Last year I ended up picking five funny spots and this year I have a more balanced list (as balanced as a top five list can get). Brands mostly went for heart-warming over hysterical this year and many of the comedic spots were really not that funny in my opinion or they were produced a little too over-the-top.

Social media played a role in this year’s brand bowl more so than ever before. If you’re a marketer reading this, I’m sure you’re well aware of the brilliant and timely posts delivered by the Oreo social media team. When the lights went out at the Superdome, Oreo pushed out the below image on Facebook and Twitter in a matter of minutes:

This was an image with real staying power. It picked up another thousand plus retweets the day after the big game, the Facebook post got over 20,000 ‘likes’ and close to 7,000 shares and the quick and witty post picked up tons of free press. Oreo is certainly on top of its game and made sure its ‘Cream Or Cookie’ Super Bowl spot was fully supported with social media build up and timely posts sent out before, during and even after the game. Social media activity like this can only be achieved with a command center and all hands on deck. The social media activity during the Super Bowl this year was certainly impressive, but it’s time to break down my favorite ads.

#5. Samsung Mobile USA – The Next Big Thing

I’m not usually one to fall for celebrity endorsements, but these two are hilarious. Not sure how much the ad will help in its epic battle for marketshare over Apple, but it can’t hurt.

#4. Viva Young – Taco Bell Game Day Commercial

This commercial is great. I can only wish I will be this cool when I’m sitting around in a retirement home a few decades from now. Only thing bad about it is now I have that Fun. song stuck in my head, which I spent most of 2012 trying to get rid of. At least it was in Spanish.

#3. OREO – Whisper Fight

A whisper fight in a library? Brilliant. Though I’m a little surprised it hadn’t been done before. Again, Oreo absolutely stole the show from a branding and marketing standpoint. They even took this moment to launch an Instagram account. Before the Super Bowl, Oreo had around 2,200 followers on Instagram and garnered around 35,000 followers by the end of Sunday night. Props to 360i and the Oreo social media command center.

#2. Budweiser Super Bowl Ad — The Clydesdales: “Brotherhood”

This ad literally brought tears to the eyes of some of my coworkers. With several terribly awful ads from Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch InBev totally redeemed itself with this tear-jerker of an ad.

#1. Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer”

This one struck a chord with me from the first frame and had chills going through my spine by the end. Growing up in northwest Oklahoma and listening to farmers talk about the weather and wheat prices everyday definitely had an influence on this year’s pick. Paul Harvey had a big part in my life as well. Seemed like anytime I showed up at my grandparents house in Alva, Okla., Paul Harvey was delivering his famous “The Rest of the Story” segments on the kitchen radio. It also helped that the commercial was beautifully done with shots from a National Geographic photographer and a renowned documentary photographer. Nicely done, Dodge.

Bonus spots:

Because of my Oklahoma roots and because the Flaming Lips are just incredible in general: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe | Big Game Ad | “Epic Playdate

Because I love awkward moments: Unattended Laundry: You needed the machine. You got caught panty-handed (Speed Stick)

Because I love Amy Poehler: Best Buy – Asking Amy: Official 2013 Best Buy Game Day Commercial


Surprise Prize Pack for Fallon Worldwide’s 10,000th Twitter Follower

Fallon Worldwide rewarded its 10,000th Twitter follower with a surprise prize pack of agency swag.
Fallon 10,000th Twitter prize package.

Fallon put together a rather nice package of swag for its 10,000th Twitter follower … me!

I’m a little slow on this one, but I definitely owe a big thank you to the great Minneapolis ad agency Fallon Worldwide. Out of pure luck, I became @wearefallon’s 10,000 Twitter follower on July 11, 2012 and I received a surprise @mention the next day announcing me as the winner of Fallon prize pack. The surprise is two-fold: 1.) Considering I have a PR & Advertising list on Twitter and I’m a big fan of their work, I was surprised to learn I wasn’t already following Fallon and 2.) I had no idea they were planning to reward their 10,000th follower. Here’s the surprise tweet:

Of course I sent in my address right way. However, I didn’t really know what the prize pack would include. I assumed it would be some pens and a note pad or something. Little did I know, I would have a box of high-quality goodies show up at my doorstep the day before my birthday.

The swag pack included a Lands’ End vest, an aluminum water bottle, ball point pen, journal, bracelet and rather nice coffee table book celebrating 25 years of Fallon’s work. But that’s not all, I even got a signed and framed picture of Pat Fallon to hang on my wall (which I did).

From a social media marketing standpoint, there’s a couple key takeaways here. First, the power of a surprise reward can be just as good as a full-fledged online contest. Sure, you might not get all the consumer information as you might with a sweepstakes (users’ email, mailing address, demographics, etc.), but if you do it right, it can still work for you. After Fallon announced its winner on Twitter, they also posted photos on Facebook and Google+ to get a little more traction. It also helps that Fallon’s 10,000th follower also happens to maintain a blog (I’m now writing about my experience). 

Another takeaway was Fallon’s decision to go big on the prize package. It would have been much easier and cost effective to send me the pen and note pad I was thinking. However, I don’t think I would have gotten too excited about that. By including a book, vest, framed photo and other swag worth around $100, I definitely felt obliged to brag about it on my social networks and, eventually, blog about it.

Again, I thank the good people at Fallon Worldwide for taking time to reward a random Twitter follower. I’m looking forward to wearing my vest this fall and The Work: 25 Years of Fallon compliments my favorite advertising book, Juicing the Orange rather nicely.


#Infographic: The Psychology of Social Networking Sites

Psychology of Social MediaAnother infographic has come through my inbox that is definitely worth sharing. The folks at PsychologyDegree.net have gathered some interesting studies regarding the psychology of spending time on social networking sites. The basic assertion is that users of social networking sites are essentially narcissistic in nature. Though I would disagree it is that black and white, the infographic below does point to some interesting stats and findings.

It may be hard to argue with a finding that 80 percent of social media posts are about the poster. However, I might argue the validity of such a broad finding. It would be interesting to see how various social media platforms vary in this area. Twitter, it would seem, would yield more posts about topics of the user’s interests, but not necessarily about the poster him/herself. If you were to take into account social bookmarking sites, posts about the actual user would be almost non existent. My guess is the study was done with Facebook as the primary subject. Maybe I’m being too critical.

The last section of the infographic states that “half of all users compare themselves to others when they view photos or status updates.” That’s just human nature I suppose. What do you think? Are we obsessed with social media or are we obsessed with ourselves?

Psychology of Social Networking

Top image via http://451heat.com.


Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 2 – The Power of Visuals

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience as I presented at a recent St. Cloud State University mass communications alumni event. Now is time for part two of that discussion: the importance of visuals in communication.

The idea that people are visually minded is nothing new, but I feel it is important to discuss as the concept directly transfers to the public relations industry. There’s been talk for a number of years about whether or not news releases are effective and if they are on the way out. The short answer is no, they are not on the way out. That’s my opinion maybe, but as long as there are journalists with tight deadlines and news organizations that continue to cut staff, news releases will be an easy go-to source for journalists.

Without getting into the particulars of  journalists expected to push out more content in a shorter amount of time and editors choosing to sensationalize soft stories instead of producing in-depth hard news, I’ll just say news releases are still important. What has changed over the past few years is how the news release is developed and disseminated.

Now in the PR world we’re seeing more interactive news releases. News releases optimized for search engines and the “social media news release” are commonplace. These are news releases rich in content—containing at least one visual element, keywords and links for more information. A media-rich news release is far more effective in reaching a target audience and should resonate with reporters much better.

Visuals are so effective now that many companies are using infographics in place of the news release. Infographics are great because they can take relatively complicated statistics and visualize them into easy-to-understand graphs. A news release with a bunch of stats crammed in the body will never be as effective as a well-designed infographic. They also are easy to share and can make their way around the Internet with little effort.

Further building off the importance of visuals in PR, let’s take a look at what has brought us to this point. Surly, communications specialists have recognized the importance of strong visuals long ago. Marketing and advertising is almost completely based off of visual cues. Even radio commercials contain a visual element—a good radio spot will paint a picture in the mind of the listener, which can be more effective than actually seeing something in print or video.

Social media and, more importantly Web 2.0, have made it much easier to share images and video across a variety of platforms. A few major news items have surfaced over the past few months that have really made this point be heard.

The first is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to pin images that link back to the original source onto “boards,” or a scrapbook-style collection of a user’s personality. Pinterest is significant because the website hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever.

Another interesting phenomenon is Draw Something hitting 20 million active users in just seven weeks. Draw Something is a Pictionary-style mobile gaming application in which users draw something from a set of words and the other user watches the drawing unfold as he/she tries to guess the word.

A final piece of news is that of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion–which was still a startup at the time with only 9 employees. Each of these news items should aid in understanding the the importance of using visuals in communication.

Lastly, please stop using comic sans and clip art:


Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 1 – Know Your Audience

The importance of knowing your audience.

Is your target audience a crowd of conservative men or does it have a greater variance to allow for more flexibility?

I recently spoke at a St. Cloud State Mass Communications alumni event regarding trends in social media–especially in the Public Relations industry. As an intern at Kohnstamm Communications and only a couple years as a social media manager at KVSC-FM under my belt, I’m hardly an expert on the subject, but I do feel I came out with some good points and generated an interesting discussion. I rarely write out word-for-word what I plan to say at these things, but for some reason that’s what happened. I ended up making an outline of speaking points for a more natural impromptu delivery and my original ‘script’ for my presentation “Social Media: Personal and Visual” is below.

I learned a lot as the Director of PR & Social Media at KVSC and a lot of what I learned along the way is directly transferable to the PR industry—whether the B2B clients I work with at Kohnstamm care about social media or not. I learned two main things while building KVSC’s social media presence: 1.) It is important to know your audience and 2.) People are very visually minded.

For the former, I learned early on that no one really cares about basic station updates that can easily be found at kvsc.org, people want to be entertained and involved in the conversation. In other words, people want to be reached at a personal level. I found that posting opinionated articles relating to the station’s music format or pop culture in general would garner a greater response than simply announcing what was coming up in the programming lineup.

It’s definitely important to know your audience and have a good understanding of what types of posts will get their attention without offending anyone too much. A great example of this is with a new recruitment firm I’ve been working with. At KVSC, it seemed I could get away with just about anything. Making fun of Nickelback, posting popular memes and silly YouTube videos are all commonplace on the KVSC Facebook wall. For example, one of the more popular posts on the KVSC wall consisted of a black and white photo of a little boy smoking a cigarette next to a chicken and the caption “Could someone please explain this picture?” (side note: the little boy happens to be a young István Ládai). With Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting, I posted a picture of an Easter bunny portrait gone slightly wrong and wished everyone a happy Easter. It was all in good nature and was meant to be funny. However, someone didn’t like it and contacted the owner of the business and we took it down.

Lesson learned. Monitor and know your audience before you really test the waters. As with any good PR campaign, knowing your audience will help in crafting a news release, pitching a reporter or otherwise getting a client’s news out. Knowing your audience allows you to create much more targeted and personal messages. Maintaining personal messaging in any communication strategy allows for better conversation, but can only be achieved if you know what your audience is interested in talking about.

Further reading on the subject of knowing your audience:

Image via juicebag.blogspot.com.


My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2012

Victorias Secret Adriana Lima Football in 2012 Super Bowl Commercial

Adriana Lima made an appearance in a couple Super Bowl commercials this year as well as a few other models and celebrities–none of which made the cut on my list. Please don’t hate me, Adriana.

Another good year in Super Bowl commercials. Last year I picked the most expensive commercial ever produced because of the overall tone, an intense music bed that climaxes at just the right moment and a final cut to a sleek shot of the Chrysler 300 that left me with goosebumps.

All the videos I have picked out this year are comical. For non-humorous ads, “NFL Timeline” was pretty good, but I felt the ad lacked the climatic build necessary for it to truly be successful. Super Bowl XLVI also had some of the worst follow-up ads in history. Though Volkswagen once again made my list, I think the YouTube-only teaser released a a couple weeks before the big game was far more humorous (and has nearly twice the number of views). Bridgestone took slightly different approach with its “performance basketball/football” ads and ultimately fell short. Finally, though I still get goosebumps watching Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” from last year, the follow-up spot with Clint Eastwood is less than chilling (though 4 million views on YouTube is pretty good).

Enough talk. Here’s my top five Super Bowl XLVI commercials:

#5. Volkswagen: The Dog Strikes Back

Again, I think this is a poor followup attempt and the ad took a lazy approach to tying back to the Star Wars theme from the previous year. The Web-only “Bark Side Teaser Spot” is much funnier and is ranked No. 1 on Hulu’s top 10 Super Bowl ads list. Still, “The Dog Strikes Back” managed to win this year’s AdBowl.

#4. Skechers: GO RUN Mr. Quiggly!

I actually missed this one during the game, but found it to be quite hilarious. A dog in running shoes is pretty darn funny I guess. Moonwalking across the finish line was a little over-the-top.

#3. Doritos: Man’s Best Friend

Now in it’s fifth year, the Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign keeps on delivering. This spot is great in that it tell a story in 30 seconds while still managing to be both funny and cute.

#2. Hyundai: Think Fast.

I can’t say I really remember any past TV ads from Hyundai–Super Bowl or not. However, this ad strikes a chord with me in a couple of ways… It has the element of humor and the idea of showcasing a car’s ability to bring someone back to life is quite amusing (and a great way to show the car’s features).

#1. Chevrolet: Happy Grad

This one might be the most underrated spot of 2012–not making the top 10 in the AdBowl or Hulu’s AdZone. In fact, this ad didn’t even make the top 10 chart on AdAge’s Super Bowl social media chart. Funny for obvious reasons, but I think it has strong sentiment because, let’s face it, this is what most people wish would have happened when they graduated. At least, I did.

So there you have it. Also, the New York Giants won the game. Now  I want to hear what your favorite Super Bowl XLVI commercials are. Please post in the comments section below, send me a tweet or take the poll:


What I’ve Learned from Using QR Codes Part II

QR code in a print advertisement.

An example from an ad I created containing a QR code. I feel it is effective because it is intriguing, instructional and easy to scan.

A while back, I wrote an article about my experience in using QR codes at KVSC-FM and how I have used them personally on my business cards. Now almost two months later, I have a few more suggestions for the successful use of QR codes in marketing. QR codes are still quite the craze and I am seeing more and more show up on event flyers, print advertisements and even as profile pictures on Twitter. Many of these examples were flawed in some way and this article is meant to help prevent others from making the same mistakes.

The first advice I might give is to not include a QR code on something just to have a QR code on it. I admit, I have fallen victim to this. In creating a few print advertisements for an upcoming concert sponsored by KVSC, I really wanted to include a QR code to fill some blank space in the ad. However, both kvsc.org and the online ticket site were not easy to use on a mobile device and the only thing I could think of was to have the QR code link to the box office phone number to purchase tickets. We decided to remove the QR code. Why? Although the QR code likely would have raised curiosity, the destination would most likely serve as a disappointment to anyone who scanned it. We were better off just posting the phone number (old fashioned, I know).

Another thing we can learn from the above example is that it’s usually best to link to a mobile site. If the ticket service we were using was a site such as stubhub.com, then the QR code would have been a great addition to the print ad because the user would probably be discovering something new and would be excited about using the mobile site to purchase tickets. Along these same lines, linking to my ePortfolio from my business cards was probably not the best idea as I implied in my previous post on QR codes. Although my ePortfolio looks fine on a mobile device, the text is small and navigation is difficult. When I print new personal business cards, I will link to this blog because WordPress automatically directs users to a mobile version.

Lastly, I would highly recommend using a URL shortener service such as bit.ly to create your QR code. One problem I have seen with some QR codes is that they are too dense and thus, difficult to scan quickly (if at all). I do not completely understand the science behind QR codes, but I do know that dense QR codes are not only more difficult to scan, but are also less attractive. By using a URL shortener (namely bit.ly), you will not only avoid this problem, but you will also be able to track basic analytics of the QR code. With bit.ly, you can track the number of scans, location of the referrer, if the link is being shared on social sites, when the code was scanned and whether the referral came from the QR code or from the link posted elsewhere.

For those of you who watch CSI, here’s a simple definition of a QR code:

I hope these additional tips help you in creating more effective marketing campaigns through the use of QR codes. As always, if you have any tips or questions, please comment below or send me a message on Twitter: @eric_wheeler. And remember, sharing gets you more friends!


Top Five Super Bowl Ads of 2011

After coming home from the library late in the third quarter, I quickly fired up Hulu and got caught up in the AdBowl. What a great way to watch the best ads of the night. Hulu had a nice dashboard to watch the ads with the ability to organize by most popular, most watched and order of appearance. With the ability to give a thumbs up or down to each ad and the Facebook and Twitter share buttons, Hulu was definitely a great site to analyze the ads and see what everyone else was thinking. So with that, I give you my personal “top 5″ ads of Super Bowl XLV.

#5. Bridgestone: Carma

Bridgestone Tires has been running commercials during the Super Bowl since 2008 and has sponsored the halftime show the past two years. This year, Bridgestone featured two ads during the event and both have ended up in my top five. I find this ad to be clever not only because of the cute little beaver and heart-warming nature of the spot, but the ad also makes a strong point without making a big deal about it: Bridgestone tires can make a sudden stop in the rain with no problem.

#4. Doritos: House Sitting

I don’t think this one left anyone feeling warm-hearted … As usual this year, Doritos goes for humor and shock value in their Super Bowl ads. This ad is tastefully done for Doritos’ standard and is not nearly as creepy as the “Mmm … Cheese!” guy. I got to hand it to Doritos for the success of the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest now in it’s fourth year. What a great concept: Let the consumers take the spotlight and see what they come up with. Each year, consumers have delivered for Doritos and the contest leading up to the Super Bowl is a great way to build consumer relations and brad identity.

#3. Bridgestone: Reply All

This commercial is all about humor. In fact, this is the first ad I watched that made me LOL. Wow, I can’t believe I just wrote that. Anyway, the ad pokes fun at the ever so dreadful mistake of hitting “reply all” in an e-mail when the message was intended for just the sender. Who doesn’t love watching a guy flip out at the office?

#2. Volkswagen: The Force

This is just a great ad. The commercial quickly went viral on YouTube and now has over 22 million views. Not bad, even with the $6 million price tag to air the 60 second spot. The ad was talked about by seemingly everyone in the following days and Volkswagen gained additional impressions on morning talk shows and heart-warming stories about the six-year-old heart patient from Southern California. The ad itself tells little about the car and is based purely on keeping the viewer’s attention and ending with a good joke. The ad is … dare I say cute?

#1. Chrysler: Imported from Detroit

This might be the first time I have ever had a completely non-humorous Super Bowl ad as my favorite. This ad has a perfect  tone right from the start. The scars of the City of Detroit are showcased in a way that makes you feel proud to know Chrysler cars are made right here in the U.S. The tone of the voice-over (a Michigan man) carries over Eminem’s  musical crescendo in what seems to end with chills through my body every time I watch it. This commercial was severely under-appreciated on the various online voting polls, not even making the top 10 on Hulu. However, the ad is seeming to do its job after the first airing. Kelly Blue Book ranked its online traffic after each automobile commercial aired during the Super Bowl and the Chrysler 200 was the top ranking search with a 1,013 percent increase in traffic. Though the more humorous ads received more views and ranked higher, the commercial did get a lot of attention online and in the news.

Alright, there you have my “top 5″ Super Bowl ads. Before I let you weigh-in on your favorites, I just want to say Coca-Cola really flopped on their strange “blockbuster” dragon slayer animated mini-movie. I’m not sure what this guy was thinking, but the ad was terrible. Oh, and what was Groupon thinking? That’s probably a topic for another day.


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