Message for Chrysler: the 1980s called and they want their marketing model back

Superbowl_empty_stadium NBC's SuperBowl broadcast cash cow; could the last marketer out please turn off the lights (pic sourced)

news this week that Chrysler has caused quite a stir by 'snapping up' one of the last remaining ad spots in the Superbowl.  'Chrysler' you say, 'the Chrysler that got bailed out by the American taxpayer to the tune of $13.5 BILLION last year?' … yes, the same.

I am, in a word, stunned.  stunned that an advertiser that had just been bailed out by the American taxpayer could decide that blowing something in the region of $100,000 per second on a 60" TV ad is in any way shape or form the right thing to do.  when oh when are people going to get that broadcast advertising is neither efficient nor effective at selling things.  McKinsey, if you remember, did a really cracking bit of research that went a long way to proving that consideration isn't a funnel and doesn't work like that.

New_consideration_cycle_McKinsey_Quarterly

I'm not suggesting that advertising (ie one-to-many 'adverts') isn't good at doing things.  it really is.  it's very good at (1) communicating new news, (2) getting people talking about your brand and (3) it's very good at validating purchase decisions.  but none of these are relevant for Chrysler; who in this move have only succeeded in getting people talking for all the wrong reasons…

Ad Age quote one commenter as saying that the move is a "slap in the face to every American taxpayer … This is Chrysler's way of saying 'Thanks for saving us, but now screw you, America. We're gonna use the money to pay for some Super Bowl ads".

a spokesperson for Chrysler- quoted in the same article – comments that "The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched TV programs of the year, not only for the football game but for the creative advertising … It provides an efficient platform to make a statement, set the new brand-positioning and reach the maximum number of viewers in comparison to traditional advertising … It would be more costly to achieve the same number of viewers in traditional media placement and ensure the high viewership attention span that the Super Bowl delivers."

I'm sorry but the 1980's called and they want their marketing model back.

its a statement from a company marching backwards: "efficient platform to make a statement", "set a new brand positioning", "in comparison to traditional advertising", "high viewership attention span" … I really am at a loss for words.

Advertising Age's headline was that "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" – their reporting suggesting "Don't advertise, you don't move product. Advertise, you get hammered for wasting money" … I'm sorry but in this case Chrysler are just damned.  damned because they have.  they have wasted money, they have taken a lazy way out, and they have ignored the new paradigm of marking and communications that has evolved around them over the last decade.

Pepsi decided that they wouldn't be damned if they didn't.  the company that spent $142m on SuperBowl advertising between 1999-2009 (source) have decided that they'd rather invest the money on something a little more meaningful than lining the pockets of Madison Avenue's Bad Men.  Pepsi are marketing by investing in the people and projects that people think are worthy of investment.  Pepsi get that ad money isn't there to 'sell' stuff.  it's there to get people talking about your brand, because what you're doing is worthy and meaningful and acting as though you give a damn about the people that you want to buy your products.  and full credit to them.

in the slow painful death of the broadcast sales model, it's the existence of events like the SuperBowl that will allow its last standing defendants to cry "it works … we can shout at people and claim 'our brand believes in freedom, or choice, or in the human spirit, or technology or whatever we think will most differentiates us from a competitive set that we create in order to validate our investments and people will believe us and they will buy and it will be awesome".

but if the reaction to Chrysler's move tells us anything its that the long held contract between advertisers and people who buy stuff may be starting to show more than a few cracks.  people are realising that thereare other ways to be marketed at than to be shouted at by a company who can spend $100,000 a second on an advert.  sure the model and it's contract will hold, probably for a good while to come, and Chrysler seem happy to throw their dollars at it.  but I'd rather be one of the first ones to get out and taste the fresh air than be the last one to turn out the lights.  what you do, I guess is your call.

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