Meat Your Markets By Mack Graves
Mack Graves has worked in animal-food proteins for the past 39 years, specializing in corporate strategy, management focus and marketing effectiveness across the protein chain.

$5 million for a Super Bowl ad – It better be good!

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Most of us by now have forgotten the Super Bowl ads that played this past Sunday.  That’s kind of scary for marketers as there was more than a fist full of dollars spent to try to make us remember them.

If you watched Super Bowl like I did, you witnessed arguably the most exciting game since, well, last year.  You also witnessed some of the most expensive ads in Super Bowl history.  We each probably have our preference for the best and worst, but please tell me what were they thinking using an MLK speech to market Ram trucks?

I wanted to see the ads to judge which ones I liked the most and to see just how many food companies spent the money for an ad or two.

By my count, 76 ads were broadcast during the four quarters of the game not counting those before or after the game nor those during the half time show.  At a cost of $5,000,000 for a 30 second commercial, that equates to roughly $380 million.  No wonder NBC paid billions for the rights to broadcast these games.

Out of 76 commercials aired, four were by food companies: two were from Kraft, one from Doritos and one from M&M’s.  I didn’t count the ones for soda, beer or fast food restaurants.  This was on a television event that arguably was the most testosterone-laden of the year.  Who watches the Super Bowl other than those beer-swilling, nacho-dipping, chicken-wing-eating football fanatics, right?  Aren’t these folks our target market?

What if, just for the sake of argument, one of our industry’s chicken companies ran an ad or two?  Do you think Eastern Shore poultry scions extolling the virtues of antibiotic free chicken would have motivated consumers to jump in their cars at halftime and drive to their nearest grocery store to buy some?  Me neither, despite the sight of Justin Timberlake in his camouflage jacket.

Or, what about an ad for fresh beef featuring those Brazilian beef brothers munching on steak tartare from some undisclosed location in the Southern Hemisphere?  I don’t think so.

My point is that this advertising thing is pretty tough.  Those who spent the mountains of money for the Super Bowl ads I am sure will never admit that it was a boondoggle or waste of money with little measurable return.  Seriously, why blow your advertising budget on 30 seconds of air time?

But, these Super Bowl advertisers are also probably saying to all marketers who will listen to join them in Super Bowl 2019, “come on in, the water’s fine.”  With that in mind, do you think a beef company or two or chicken company or even a pork company for that matter would dare to enter this advertising fray next year?

Oh, how I wish it were true, but alas, it’s only wishful thinking.  The marketing mavens in those companies will probably never attempt to convince consumers to buy beef or chicken or pork by advertising to their target audience in this most watched television sporting event of the year.

Why not, you may ask?  Well, it’s simple really; most of them (especially the beef and pork folks) don’t have an identifiable brand to present to consumers.  So everything the consumer may find in their friendly grocery store looks the same as it has no brand.


But wait. Tyson just announced the formation of their Fresh Meats Marketing Team.  Hallelujah!  Maybe, just maybe, this is the first step in branded beef and pork marketing.  We can only hope.

If the Super Bowl television audience prefers the further processed beef or pork or chicken, wouldn’t it be neat to see that Pennsylvania chocolate company subsidiary trying to convince consumers to crave their jerky?

Just like the New England Patriots, we can only lament, “Wait ‘til next year,” as we hope to see some of our industry’s meat and poultry companies join this advertising fracas. 

The best ad in my opinion—Eli Manning and Odell Beckham dancing for the NFL and all the Tide ads.  They met my three rules for advertising—believable, unique and relevant.  Or were they?


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