The funny Super Bowl commercials include two new ads from Volkswagen. The common theme of them is the use of dogs, and references to the old Star Wars movies.
The reason to analyze these commercials is to pick up some pointers that we can use in our own advertisements. If we get the good points, and avoid the bad concepts, we’ll hopefully make more money in our business, right?
The two Volkswagen ads, while popular, are probably not something that you should emulate. The popularity comes from the hype surrounding the release of funny commercials around the time of the Super Bowl football game. The funny and entertaining commercials are looked forward to, just about as much as the game itself. So releasing an advertisement at this time is going to gather a lot of attention. And that is good, and why the big-name advertisers do it.
Because of the popularity of these superbowl ads, small businesses are sent a mixed message. They see the popularity of the ads, and attribute it to the “creative genius” of the commercials themselves. However, this is the wrong. Following the lead of the big Super Bowl advertisers like Volkswagen is going to get you into a lot of financial trouble. You can’t afford to buy exposure. You must use your advertising dollars to buy customers.
Advertising is the money you spend to buy customers, not prospects. If the prospects you get from your advertisements are not turned into customers, you have wasted your money!
This is a bedrock principle of business, and is part of the Profit Formula. The effectiveness of your advertising is measured by the amount of money you spent, divided by the number of customers that buy from you. Its units are Dollars-per-customer. The lower the number, the more effective your advertising campaigns.
Law of Association
What Volkswagen is attempting to do in these advertisements is to tie their brand to the Star Wars movies. That way, whenever you see one of the Star Wars movies or a reference to one, they want that to be a trigger to cause you to think of the Volkswagen brand. You can think of this as the law-of-association.
For a car manufacturer, this might be a good strategy to use. The reason is that the average buying cycle for a new car is long. In other words, you probably aren’t in the market for a new car right now, and it might be a year or two before you are ready to start looking. So what Volkswagen is doing is to plant an association-trigger in your mind, in hopes that when you are ready to buy a car, you might see a Star Wars movie and that will gently remind you to go look at a Volkswagen.
Will This Work For You?
That is the big question. Do you have the ability to wait years to determine if your advertisement has been effective?
If your business is like mine, the cycle time between purchases is a lot shorter. When I buy an ad, I want the effect to be immediate. In fact, I NEED the profit-effect to happen right away, because waiting could be fatal to the company.
The Dog Strikes Back Commercial
Watch this commercial of “Bolt” the dog.
Let’s look at this commercial from the small-business perspective. In other words, you need customers RIGHT NOW. Is there anything in this commercial that would get you off of your sofa and into a VW dealership?
I didn’t see much either.
What Emotion Is Being Triggered By This Advertisement?
Emotions are the triggers that get people to get moving and buy your product. I talk about them in detail in the 99-cent Kindle book: “Emotional Copywriting Revealed.” They are important, because there will always be a time-gap between when a person sees an advertisement, and when they can act to make a purchase. The more intense the emotional trigger, the better your chances of getting the customer to take action in the future.
In this commercial, which of the ten basic emotions is being triggered? If you said “surprise”, you’re right.
The Dog Strikes Back is a “story advertisement.” That means it has a story-line to it, and there will be a conclusion to that story. “Curiosity” keeps us engaged in the story, and we want to be surprised at the outcome.
The surprise unfortunately, is a complete let-down. The dog loses weight, and chases a car. Ho hum…
The ad then shifts to the Star Wars bar scene, where two aliens discuss the commercial. In fact, the commercial is such a let-down that one alien says (in an accent that is so hard to understand that I had to watch it twice): “I miss that Vader kid.”
The pug-nosed guy next to him says: “Are you kidding, the dog is funnier than the Vader kid.” At which point, the Vader kid makes an appearance from the opposite side of the bar, and does a mental-choke-hold on the pug-nosed guy.
What is the point of that? How does that persuade someone to drive down to the dealership and buy a VW bug?
The Bark Side Commercial
Here is the other VW commercial featuring dogs:
When I first saw it, I didn’t catch on that the dogs were barking to the theme music of Darth Vader from Star Wars until the greyhound dog came out wearing a costume from the Empire Strikes Back movie.
Again, what was the point of barking out the theme music from Star Wars? How does that sell cars?
I guess that the prevailing wisdom in the advertising agencies is that they earn their money by how many people view the commercials on YouTube. They must think it is a success if they get over a million page-views. And for them, it works.
But how about for the stock-holders of VW? Does that translate into sales of the car?
I find it hard to see that these two commercials are going to sell cars.
Until next time, “Be Fruitful.”