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The four million dollar question

The day the world tunes in to advertisers

Thursday, 6 February 2014

On Monday morning a team of wild horses lost to a team of sea eagles in game that took close to four and a half hours to complete. Don’t ask us why it takes that long; or who scored a ‘goal’; or for that matter why the umpires throw little flags at people and carry around giant arrows. The entire game is beyond us. But every year without fail SMART and every other advertising agency in the world tunes into the Superbowl. Why? The Ads!

When a thirty second spot sets you back four million dollars there’s kind of a need to make that thirty seconds special. We’re talking Full House reunion special and even Darth Vader as a toddler special.

So what does it take to make a splash in a pond filled with other four million dollar ads?

Ask Coca-Cola and the agency Wieden+Kennedy, people really sat up and noticed their ad.

Coca-Cola fielded a beautifully produced commercial. Yes it’s incredibly soppy, and incredibly American, but it’s core idea and message was simple and sincere. It championed the diversity of America.

Unfortunately not everyone saw it that way. Unfortunately Coke’s splash into sincerity was a great big belly flop into a filthy vat of hate. Twitter, the often maliciously used tool of free speech, lit up as soon as the ad broadcast. People pledged to drop the brand on the spot. They were simply horrified that an American brand and icon would use people to sing their national song in a language, other than American (sic).

So what can we learn from this?

Well it’s a pretty good lesson on how a lovely idea can be ripped apart by the target market. The people you’re speaking to may not hold the same values, they may not have the same life goals and they definitely wont all have the same cache of life experiences.

Client and agency no-doubt had the warm and fuzzies all the way from the inception of the idea, to the time it went to air. Was there a point during the process where they stopped and considered how the public would respond? Did they imagine a whole lot of racists with twitter accounts would be upset at their concept? Who knows, most likely they knew this would happen and went ahead with it anyway.

The simple truth is that the ultra right wing and uber-conservatives will continue drinking Coke and continue hating difference. But there’s a chance the rest of us will look at coke a little more fondly from now on. And that their bold move made the advertising landscape a little brighter.