Porn & The Super Bowl

Posted on 2nd February, 2014

If advertising were a porn film, then the Super Bowl would be the ‘money shot’. Literally.


Each year, our industry gathers itself onto one collective sofa, and – surrounded by cold beer and Cheetos – gorges itself.


Together, we analyse, appraise and, often, pour jealous scorn on the 30 second spots that constitute this annual festival of advertising.


At its best, this is the triumph of innovation meeting capitalism; super-charging brands and powering economies with a wave of the magic creative wand. At its worst, it’s a shallow, self-referential adventure in narcissism. As Charles Van Es, Head of Marketing for Heineken USA Portfolio Brands said recently, “If there is one opportunity ripe for commenting on the bullshit of marketing, the Super Bowl is probably as good as it gets”.


But in amongst the ‘winners’ and the ‘losers’, the dissections of ‘integratability’ and longevity of ideas, the deliberately provocative, the schmaltz and all the rest, there is perhaps an elephant in the room this year. And it ain’t Alan Branch.


The big story, I think, is the number of brands taking a fairly revolutionary approach as to how they make hay while the Super Bowl sun shines. And this is an approach that, one way or another, risks seriously diminishing the traditional roles of both creative agencies and media agencies alike.


Newcastle Brown Ale’s “mega huge football game” piss-take is a fabulous example. Hats off to the brilliant Droga 5 (for whom such disruption is bang on-brand) but pity the media agency that, with such a cheap and cheerful website and simple YouTube film, seriously missed out.


Or take Doritos commitment to crowdsourcing creative. “We’re learning,” asserts owner PepsiCo’s CMO, “that ideas comes from anywhere”.  Cue a whole army of ECDs quietly sobbing into their Budweisers……


And of course the thing that all the brands really want in 2014? An Oreos moment, d’apres the cookie’s Twitter-based success last year. As far as I can work out, that depends less on traditional agencies, their models and people, than it does on having a handful of smart, agile folk sitting in a ‘war room’.


I’m reviewing a book at the moment by Rose Fass. It’s called ‘Chocolate Conversations’, and one of its key tenets is the importance of businesses being “addicted to relevance”.


Back at work on Monday, as the hangovers die down, agency-land might want to reflect on this.


Or this could be one adult movie that doesn’t enjoy, ahem, a ‘happy ending’.


- this piece first kindly published by Campaign Magazine at



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