Baumhower: They don’t make ads like these anymoreWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Related story: Classic commercials stir memories
View classic Toledo commercials here.
This Sunday, it’s estimated that more than 110 million people — 400,000-plus in Northwest Ohio — will turn on NBC and watch the greatest day of commercials this year. Some may even pay attention to the game.
Reaching more than 110 million people does not come cheap. The price tag this year for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial is $3.5 million, and NBC announced it’s sold all the spots. The dollar amount is just to buy the airtime; that doesn’t include the cost of making the commercial. Production could double the airtime costs because many ads have celebrities like Matthew Broderick, Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, Deion Sanders, Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. Products like Pepsi, Honda, Toyota, Doritos and Century 21 all want to guarantee you’ll remember their commercial, especially if it cost $10 million. This is truly the Super Bowl of advertising.
The biggest difference between this year and years past is the viral effect. With YouTube, advertisers are getting way more bang for their buck. Previously, if you wanted to see your favorite Super Bowl commercial more than once, you would wake up on Monday and hope the “Today Show” or another media outlet would replay it. Honda recently released a 10-second promo that advertised its Super Bowl “Ferris Bueller” commercial — it advertised an advertisement. As of Feb. 2, the Honda CRV commercial has more than 8.5 million views on YouTube.
Locally, NBC24 is the beneficiary of Super Bowl XLVI, with 14 30-second commercials that air during the game. Industry insiders in Northwest Ohio say the going rate for a 30-second commercial is between $7,500 and $10,000. WNWO CEO/General Manager Chris Topf confirms the dollar amount is in that range, but would not give exact numbers. Topf also confirmed that NBC24 was very close to selling out the available slots.
Quick math : 14 X $7,500/$10,000 = 1 happy CEO.
But here’s the thing — can anyone name a commercial that airs locally right now that is worth $10,000 even if 400,000-plus people see it? I can not. I suspect Monday morning in Toledo the water coolers will not be buzzing about a local company’s 30-second commercial. So it begs the question: If you spend $10,000 on a Super Bowl commercial and no one is buzzing about it, was it worth the money?
In the past 20 years, local TV advertising has changed dramatically. Messages went from very personable/funny to more subliminal/simple. Long gone are the days of grown men donning capes and smashing windshields of used cars or upside-down signs in businesses. Today’s commercials are about HD graphics, sound chimes and volume. Very rarely do we see the entertaining local commercials like we did in the past.
Riding the bus home from St. Clement School, I saw firsthand the effect of great local TV commercials. Every day we would pass the corner of Alexis and Secor roads and some classmate would roll down the window and yell “Modern Floor!” As we turned left on Secor Road heading south, we passed Janney’s Ace, which had an upside-down sign. The loaded school bus then proceeded past TV’s craziest local hero, Super Don Brondes.
Cutting through the static
Super Don Brondes is the perfect example of cutting through TV static, entertaining viewers and getting your company’s name out there. Super Don tackled the local problems of high used car prices by smashing windshields with a sledgehammer. Brondes Ford was instantly put on Toledo’s map and in our hearts.
Who in their wildest dreams would ever imagine that a company that installs flooring would be remembered forever? Modern Floor had a frontage problem; it had a great business but a terrible location. To combat its location issue, it simply created one of the most iconic commercials in local TV history.
The commercial featured owner/founder Dick Knight standing on Alexis Road, dodging cars and yelling, “Just yell ‘Modern Floor’ and we’ll come out and get you.”
How many of you were ready to punch the Affordable Chiropractic guy strumming his guitar, wanting to make his “pain-free” existence a little less enjoyable? I don’t know who my father would have punched first in a room, the Affordable Chiropractor or John from Banner Mattress.
As I researched this piece with phone calls to discuss the disappearance of these type of commercials, one word kept coming up over and over again: “Annoying!” Many local advertising insiders used words like “annoying” or “irritating” to describe these commercials of Toledo’s TV past but I choose a different word: effective.
Ask anyone older than 30 what Super Don’s last name was, or simply stand on the corner of Alexis and Secor roads and witness how many people still yell “Modern Floor!” Currently, Steve Taylor is doing the best job with his ad campaign, as far as being memorable (effective). He has great saturation and an even catchier slogan. If I asked any of my children what Steve Taylor wants, they would all yell, “To see-ya in a Kia!”
Marketing and advertising agencies have numerous jobs that include branding, message and top-of-mind awareness, to name a few. Ad agencies also control the number of times you see a client’s commercial. The problems with these great commercials of Toledo’s history is they were played way too much, creating annoyance and irritation. Today’s local TV campaigns are more subtle, almost subliminal. The commercials feature great jingles, straightforward messages and tightly orchestrated video shots. The local spots today are less likely to be annoying and irritating but are more likely to be forgotten. If I had to choose subliminal or entertaining, the latter is the only way to go.
I believe that reaching 400,000 people in Toledo is worth $10,000 if you do it right. I challenge any local business to get “old-school” creative and steal the water cooler chat for Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. It won’t be that hard, just expensive. Spending $10,000 to entertain and reach almost half a million regional viewers on a day when they want to see commercials is just good business. Just do Toledo a favor; don’t play your great commercial 1,000 times a week for the rest of our lives.
Follow Jeremy Baumhower on Twitter @jeremytheproduc.