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A Superb Owl, But Sub-Par Storytelling

The Big Game was a nail-biter to the end, but advertisers’ disconnected storytelling left viewers shrugging their shoulders. Are brands dropping the ball by ending their campaigns after the final whistle blows?  

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Aired: February 17, 2023 

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Hello there and welcome. Did you watch the big game? More importantly to us as marketers, did you watch the ads during the big game? Is advertising really changing, and is it still worth seven million dollars for a 30-second spot? I asked this question a couple of weeks ago, pointing out that we might be moving from one-and-done ads to more content-driven campaigns. Boy was I ever wrong about that. Are you ready for five minutes of what you need to lead in marketing? Let’s roll.  

Hello everybody. Robert Rose here with the news. It’s what’s new, but – more importantly –what’s important in the world of content marketing. And for the best in best practices – you can always go to 

Last Sunday was the big game – the “Superb Owl,” as it were – and it all came down to the final seconds. A great game, by the way. From an audience perspective, it crushed it. Superb Owl No. 57 was the second most watched ever (behind only No. 49). So, totally worth it from the marketing perspective, right? 

Well, first of all, a big mea culpa is in order. A couple of weeks ago I was previewing the trailers for the big game ads (yes, they really do have trailers for the ads now). I was talking about how so many of them seemed to be integrated content campaigns that would extend beyond the thirty-second spot into multiple channels and platforms. I implied that the ads really were gateways to bigger stories that the brand would take forward for the year.  

Well, that didn’t happen. 

Related: Branded Content: Getting It Right 

The general consensus was that this year’s ads were fairly lackluster, with none of them really creating the kind of overwhelming buzz we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps this was best exemplified with M&M’s and the return of their “Spokescandies.” It was set up perfectly to be a compelling brand story. But it became kind of confusing, with a 30-second spot featuring Maya Rudolph talking about “mas,” and “yas,” and clams, and … I’m not sure what, only to end with, “They’re back!” 

Some people were confused. A few were mystifyingly outraged that they were back. For me, I had the worst emotion of all: I just didn’t care one way or the other.  

In any event, it brings up a question: What is a media campaign these days? Are they just ads strung together, representing the repetition of one message over and over until the consumer relents? Or should we be focused on building a story over time – with a beginning, middle, and end – into our creative ideas, where we can get interest, build intrigue, introduce conflict, and ultimately bring a satisfying end to a story over paid media, owned media, shared media, and integrated media? 

Related: How To Make Paid Content Promotion Pay Off for Your Content Marketing 

When our CFO asks, “What’s the ROI on that $7 million dollar ad purchase?” what is the question that we really want to be answering there?  

Even if that number is $700, or $7000, or 70,000, do we want to invest in a campaign where, yes, one of the purchases was $7000? But it was the beginning of a story that connected to a content-driven owned media experience, which connects to organic sharing across social media, which earned media started to cover with industry publications. So, yes, one component of it was expensive; but for the campaign that extended over the course of the quarter (or 6 months, or a year), the story was told very well.  

There was actually a wonderful column in AdAge this week, which says that we’ve seen too many ads, and not enough campaigns. 

In it, the author of the article asks a really important question that inspired me: He asks us to look at how we saw our favorite brands on the day of the Big Game. “[Were they] reinterpreting their DNA through a wildly entertaining piece of film that was more exciting than the game on the gridiron? Or was it a procession of brands with an overblown sense of their own importance, marketers trying to outgun each other on celebrity endorsements …” 

Somewhere, many of these brands we see these days have lost their sense of story – even over a paid media campaign or owned media campaign. The quest for that one viral, Cannes Lion-winning content event, focusing on one channel like TV, print, or digital, has overtaken our ability to work with many of our colleagues to create an integrated story across multiple channels. 

The quest for viral ad success has overtaken brands’ ability to create an integrated story across multiple channels says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

But the good news? Well, the good news is that there may be an opportunity here. When the bar is as low as it became on Superb Owl Sunday, then we know that there’s more opportunity there for the humble levels of where our marketing and content works day in and day out for us. 

What do you think? Is your brand, your company, creating more integrated story-driven campaigns across not just owned media but paid media, too? Where are you playing the long game with your content – not just in trying to create a repetitive piece of creative that drives people to yet more repetition? We want to know. Give us your best – I’d love to see ‘em in the comments, or you can send them directly to me. 

And for now, well, that’s five minutes of what’s new that hopefully, you can use to lead your marketing strategy. I’m Robert Rose and remember, as always, it’s your story to tell – tell it well. 

I’ll see you next week.  

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