Super Bowl

Four Super Bowl Spots That Missed on Linkage

30 Jan 2015  

One of the most difficult things for a Super Bowl advertiser to get right is linkage. It isn’t enough to develop a clever commercial that stands out and is memorable. You have to link the creative idea to the brand.

If linkage isn’t strong, the ad simply won’t work very well. People will remember the ad but not the brand. This is a problem.

Linkage is why many entertaining commercials don’t build the business. The ads people love the most sometimes do very little for the company. Just last night I had a senior marketing executive speaking in class, lamenting how he had to drop a charming ad campaign that unfortunately didn’t connect enough to the brand.

Below are four remarkable Super Bowl ads that failed on linkage.

Next Tuesday, February 3, I’ll be doing two events debriefing on the Super Bowl ads. At noon, Derek Rucker and I will be hosting a webinar on the spots. It is free. You can sign up here:

At 6:30, I will be reviewing the ads at an event at Kellogg’s downtown campus. A networking reception starts at 5:30. You can sign up here:

EDS: Cat Herders

In 2000, EDS ran a spot called “Cat Herders.” It is a wonderful piece of film. It is distinctive and memorable. Unfortunately, it also has terrible linkage. The creative idea doesn’t connect at all to the brand.

Ameriquest: Don’t Judge Too Quickly

Mortgage provider Ameriquest ran a charming series of ads on the Super Bowl in 2005 and 2006. The key line: “Don’t judge too quickly. We won’t.”

Unfortunately, these funny ads lacked strong linkage. The brand wasn’t integral to the commercial.



Reebok: Terry Tate

In 2003, Reebok aired an exceptionally funny spot on the Super Bowl featuring Terry Tate, the office linebacker. Tate enforced office policies in a rather aggressive fashion. The ad remains one of the funniest Super Bowl spots ever. It also remains one of the best examples of weak linkage.

E Trade: Wasted $2 Million

E Trade ran a spot in 2000 featuring a dancing monkey and the line, “Well, we just wasted $2 million bucks. What are you doing with your money?” The idea was clever but weak linkage meant they really did waste $2 million bucks.

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