Monday, January 24, 2011

Old School Super Sunday

Super Sunday is shaping up for 2011.  We are now set for a classic “old school” match between storied teams seeking their latest claim to the Lombardi Trophy:  Packers versus Steelers. 

The teams feature strong quarterbacks: one established, the other ascending. Both teams play with strength and agility.

From the audience perspective, it is the East Coast versus the Midwest, with the West Coast drawn in by the California origins of the Packers QB.  Audience projections are as high as 110 million viewers for the big game.

And, the economy is on the rise with a full card of Super Bowl commercials for which some have paid as much as $3 million for 30 seconds.  

All this means there will be lots of football talk leading to the big game in two weeks.

Much of the suspense will be about advertising creativity.

Super Bowl advertising is all about “the reward theory of communication” where brands compete to garner favor by being highly entertaining.

Brands such as E-trade and have captured recent attention on Super Sundays employing talking babies and fooling around with monkeys.  It is borrowed interest that plays to their product benefits of ease of use and escape from less desirable working conditions.

Budweiser is the “old school” favorite. The King of Beers has long been the king of Super Bowl advertising.

It will be interesting to see if Bud can take the creative crown back this year schooling us with yet another new way to leverage their powerful brand equity.

(As it turned out, Bud settled for slap-stick stunts; and kissed their brand symbols good-bye).

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to the Psychology of Advertising

I began this blog on the Psychology of Advertising two years ago. The objective remains to provide observations about current advertising and point out helpful sources for thinking about advertising.

The blog is meant for anyone interested in advertising. People everywhere like to study advertising. Over the past two years, many thousands of people in over 70 countries have read one or more of the 100 postings. In fact, this 2011 welcome note is posting number 100.

The spring 2011 semester begins today. I will again be teaching a graduate course called Psychology of Advertising. This course has a long tradition at the University of Minnesota.

In the 1890s , Harlow Gale, a faculty member in the Philosophy Department, taught a seminar he called Psychology of Advertising. Today, Gale is acknowledged as the first person to conduct scientific studies of the effects of advertising.

So this Minnesota tradition continues. And, I am looking forward to posting observations here on this blog. Many postings will correspond with discussions that are taking place in class, but the postings will also be offered with the understanding there are avid readers who are advertising friends around the world.

Welcome to Psychology of Advertising.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Social Media Multiplier Effect and the Super Bowl

One of the virtues of better advertising is the "multiplier effect" that comes from people sharing information they find in advertising.

People are social. And we like to talk about what's new. We become closer to each other sharing the very latest fun and useful information with friends.

That is why advertising is best defined as "commercial news."

Now, there are at least two dimensions to commercial news:  what you have to say (the strategic information about the product), and how you say it (the creative component of the message).

In a few weeks, we will be seeing the annual "advertising theater" on the Super Bowl where companies serve up highly creative commercials in hopes for the greatest multiplier effects.

And of course electronic social media play an increasing role in the process.

Venables Bell & Partners, the San Francisco ad agency, has just reported a survey indicating 15 percent of the people who say they will watch the Super Bowl also say they plan to post game-related coments  on Facebook during the game.

The ad agency did some math with the expected audience size and average number of Facebook friends to project there will be 15 million people sending a total of about 2 billion game-related comments during the game.

The ad agency survey also found that about 25 percent of these people say they plan to be commenting on the Super Bowl commercials. That adds up to a projected electronic social media multiplier effect of about a half billion comments on Facebook alone.

With Super Bowl commercial prices holding constant in the 2.8 to 3 million dollar range, the growing multiplier effect from electronic social media is making a substantial contribution to advertising productivity.

For more perspective on psychological theory and the development of persuasive advertising, please see Advertising and the Arc of History.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Super Bowl 2011 Commercials

The 2011 Super Bowl is just four weeks away.  SB XLV will be played on February 6th at Dallas Cowboy Stadium.

Who will play that day? Well, who knows, but here's what is known about some of the commercials we are likely to see.

The most plentiful category is automotive. The eight sponsors in this grouping include Audi, BMW, Bridgestone, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and VW. BMW is said to be returning to this event after a 10-year absence.

E-commerce also includes a number of sponsors. Among them will be Careerbuilder, CarMax,, E-trade,, and HomeAway Inc. GoDaddy will feature Danica Patrick again this year as well as Jillian Michaels from America's Biggest Loser.

Snacks and Beverages comprise the third large grouping of sponsors. This includes Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Mars Brands, Doritos, and Pizza Hut. Doritos is to again feature commercials produced in their managed contest method.

Rounding out the list we know so far are Skechers and Motorola. Motorola held details until the last moment in 2010, but it seems likely they will feature their latest Droid-based phone this year.

This is the largest audience television program of the year. As always, it entertaining to watch the commercials and to consider The Psychology of Advertising.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Image and Influence

One of the longest standing concepts in advertising is the distinction between hard sell (or argumentative) copy and soft sell (or imagery). 

In many ways this is a false distinction when it comes to potential for impact.  Imagery, even what may seem to some to be merely charming entertainment absent a literal argument (or elaboration as some call it), may nevertheless rise to the highest levels of influence.

Here’s a recent public service commercial that draws upon the holidays for its advertising idea.

This PSA was placed on YouTube in early November, 2010, and has garnered about a half a million views to date.  

Although charming and entertaining in its approach, the spot asks for the order in a powerful way. It is idea driven – home for the holidays – with a strong call to action – no more homeless pets.

Best Friends Animal Society is based in Kanab, Utah.  From this seemly remote location this organization has exerted influence on how animals are treated with greater care throughout the United States.  This PSA is just one part of the organization’s strategic approach.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.