Marketing Lessons from the Best Super Bowl Ads of All Time

My newest article on Entrepreneur.com discusses what businesses can learn from multi-million dollar jingles, babies and sock puppets from some of the best (or at least the most remembered) commercials aired during Super Bowl games.  I discuss five memorable ads and offer takeaways from each advertising effort that businesses can apply to their own campaigns in the future.

My favorite example was cut from the article for length, but it’s included below for those of you who, like me, miss the Pets.com sock puppet.

Company: Pets.com

Commercial: Please Don’t Go

Year: 2000

Description: A dog watches forlornly as its owner pulls his car out of his garage saying, “Okay Dino.  I gotta go to a lot of stores to get what you like.  I’ll be back.” The door closes and a sock puppet dog with a microphone emerges in the background singing “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago.  The sock puppet visits various pets whose owners had to leave them at home alone (including a crying turtle) and continues to sing the song with the messages, “Please don’t go” and “I want you to stay,” making it clear that these pets miss their owners when they have to go out to purchase various products for them.  A written slogan appears on screen that says, “Everything they need,” followed by the Pets.com logo.  The commercial ends with the sock puppet making an appearance in Dino’s owner’s car saying, “Hey man, I think I’m getting car sick.  I think I’m gonna boot.”

Why it works: This commercial was very popular and the sock puppet became even more popular going on to star in additional Pets.com commercials and later (after Pets.com went out of business) being sold to  Bar None, Inc. and appearing in some commercials for that company.  This ad worked for several reasons.  First, it tapped into the emotion of guilt that pet owners feel when they have to leave their pets home alone.  Second, it solved a consumer problem by offering everything they need for their pets in one place and allowing consumers to save time.  Third, it used a humorous element that people responded positively to.

Lessons to learn: Even a clever commercial that people remember over a decade later can’t save a company.  A great business model and product are essential, too.  Pets.com spent $2 million on this Super Bowl ad at a time when dot-com companies were growing incredibly fast.  In fact, 2000 has been dubbed the year of dot-com Super Bowl ads.  But the dot-com bust happened, and by the fall of 2000, many dot-com companies folded.  On November 6, 2000, Pets.com announced its doors would close, too.  Bottom-line, don’t risk everything on a single, expensive ad or marketing effort.

Follow the link to read my complete article on Entrepreneur.com: What You Can Learn from Super Bowl Ads.

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