RUSH:This is the strangest Super Bowl I have ever seen for ads. There were more ads that ran in this — and normally I don’t watch the ads in a Super Bowl, because normally I have guests. We didn’t do a party this year. Normally I use the ad time to run around and make sure everybody’s got what they want and having a good time ’cause I’m a good host.
But we didn’t have any guests. I’m watching and I can’t tell you the number of ads that went by and I didn’t know what they were for. The Nissan ad, what the hell is this? But I detected a trend. You know, folks, I’ve always told you, if you watch national advertising you get the best indication of where the country is culturally, because it’s their job to reach as many people in a positive, persuasive way as possible.
There’s a theme that ran through the majority of ads in the Super Bowl yesterday: guilt. Ads guilt tripped people left and right in the Super Bowl yesterday, which tells me, that’s been the primary take of the left and the Democrat Party, guilt tripping everybody. To me it was so obvious that many of the ads had a single focus trying to guilt trip people into buying the service or buying the product.
So the Super Bowl ads yesterday, you know, I normally, as I said earlier in the program, I guess I never got in the habit. I never watched them live. I always saw them either when they leaked in advance or afterwards because I was always getting up out of the seat or never in my seat. I was running around tending to people, guests and so forth, or as a visitor. When the commercials came on, it was break time.
Yesterday I sat through ’em. I watched ’em. And I can’t tell you the number of spots went by and I looked at Kathryn, “Who’s this for? What is this ad for?” The Nissan ad, I didn’t know it was a car ad, much less Nissan, until the end of it. The Nationwide ad came on with the dead child, I said, “What in the name of Sam Hill is that? What in the world is going on?”
As I watched, ladies and gentlemen, I spotted what I thought was the theme of advertising this year. I have spoken in the past on how advertising is a barometer of where our culture is, national advertising. If you pay attention to it, you can get a good idea of what product marketers think our culture is all about, because it’s their objective, it’s their responsibility in advertising to relate to people, in order to separate them from their money. Well, let’s face it, that’s what advertising is about. That’s one of the reasons why leftists hate it, ’cause it’s capitalism on steroids, and it’s about getting you to spend money, and they just hate that.
But in order to be successful they’ve gotta know to whom they are advertising, and one of the ways they do it now, there’s constant research being taken. There are focus groups. There are polls. I mean, there’s research out the wazoo because all of this advertising costs so much that everybody’s trying to get the biggest bang for the buck. So if you look at national advertisements, say in the Super Bowl, as sort of a reflection of or snapshot of American values and American cultural thinking at the moment, in target demographics, primarily 25 to 54, then you can pretty much bank on the fact that this is how the smart money sees the country.
So Nationwide unveiled an ad last night of a little kid talking about the things he would never do. It turned out because he was dead. Whew. I said, “What is the message here?” I know they’re trying to sell insurance. I just thought the timing was kind of bad. Here you have the Super Bowl, which is America’s party, and it doesn’t lend itself to depressing ads. But what was the tactic? Timing aside, maybe the timing was bad, what was the tactic? What was the strategy? How was Nationwide trying to separate you from your money and sell an insurance policy?
And it was guilt. Guilt-tripping. They sized up the target audience as highly susceptible to guilty plays. Emotional manipulation was seen as a weak spot for today’s parents of young children. People who grew up in liberal schools of indoctrination and people who teach in liberal schools of indoctrination, look at what they were taught. The current crop of educators and the current crop of leftist leaders were taught to feel guilty about thermostats being too high in the winter and too low in the summer. They were taught to be guilty about the lighting they were using in their homes. They were taught to feel guilty about the kind of cars they were driving. They were taught to be guilty about the food they were eating.
The guilt-tripping was robustly manifested in the issue of climate change and global warming. It was a guilt trip from beginning to end in trying to make people feel guilty for it, while at the same time providing absolution for the sin. Look what you’ve done by driving that car. Look what you’ve done by eating that Big Mac. Look what you’ve done by using that lightbulb. Look what you’ve done by heating your home too high. Look what you’ve done by cooling your house too much. But, here’s how you can save the planet from your attempted destruction. Here comes the ad for whatever car that the polar bear thanks you for buying, for saving his life. Here comes the ad for an insurance policy that will make it all better if your child dies.
The theme in much of recent advertising has been: we’re killing Mother Earth. The generation who would cure racism by electing a black community organizer who surrounds himself with bigots and racists, is now being accused of all kinds of guilt. So Nationwide I thought they went hunting for customers who are suckers for guilt trips. And if you look at some of the other ads — and I’m having trouble thinking off the top of my head. There was a Chevrolet ad I particularly liked because technique-wise it was brilliant. It was for the truck. It looked to be a blimp shot of Jiffy Pop field, remember that? Do you remember? And then all of a sudden there was an interruption in the feed, and the picture went dark for a while.
You thought the game feed had just been lost. When that happens, it’s like dead air here on the radio. (long pause) See? You say, “What happened? What happened?” It perks you up, my God, is something wrong? You start turning the volume up. Well, on TV, it got your attention. And when a few seconds went by, then they hit you with the fact that they were selling you a Chevrolet truck. Technique-wise, that was brilliant. And there wasn’t any guilt-tripping on that. I mean, not everything was a guilt trip.
But thematically, it seemed to me that the ads, particularly of the products, I didn’t even identify. I didn’t even know what they were for. There was still this notion that we need to fix something. We’ve been bad. We’ve kind of been not nice and up to snuff. So something in their focus-grouping, I’m telling you, they don’t do that blind, and they don’t do this going gut hunch anymore. The great advertisers of old, the Mad Men days, it was gut hunch. (interruption) The what, now? (interruption) Hm-hm. Oh. The McDonald’s ads. Random acts of love by not charging you. Go to McDonald’s ’cause randomly you could be given a random act of love as evidenced by a free meal at McDonald’s.
Highly emotional appeals. But back in the ol’ days, in the Mad Men days, they were just on the verge of computerized databases then, in the fifties and sixties, and they were just starting on market research. But back then, the good old days, it was all gut hunch. I mean, that’s why they were brilliant advertisers. They didn’t need a focus group to devise a great advertising campaign for a client to sell the product and reach millions.
Today nobody trusts anybody’s gut. You’ve got to do the focus-grouping. You’ve got to do the product research. You’ve got to do the data. You’ve got to do the interviews and all that, can’t take a chance, this commercial’s gonna cost you — what does a Super Bowl commercial cost? I don’t even know this year. Okay, so if you’re gonna spend four and a half million dollars on a Super Bowl commercial, you had better make sure we’re not gonna do this flying blind. So all the focus groups these people did, the research, must have told them that the way to separate people from their money is to guilt trip ’em. That’s what I concluded from some of this stuff.
You know, one of my all-time favorite products ran their first ever Super Bowl spot yesterday, Mophie. Mophie ran their first ever. Mophie’s going gangbusters. They’re the external battery pack and case for iPhones, and what’s the other brand? Samsung. That’s right, Samsung. And some of the others. Mophie was the first to come along with a decent sized battery in the case that gave you at least double the battery life. They’re doing so well they could afford a Super Bowl commercial yesterday. And their ad was good, I thought. But some of the others I didn’t quite get.
And how about Budweiser? They went back to the dog and horse a second year in a row. Now, if you didn’t see last year’s dog and horse pony show, I imagine the ad this year was kind of cute, but it’s just a replay of last year’s. And what’d that tell you? Last year’s ad was gangbusters. It was so good, why risk anything new? Let’s just go back to tried and true. Maybe I study this stuff too much, but I find it all fascinating.
And, by the way, folks, here at the EIB Network, where we are one of the most recognized and successful advertiser vehicles in all media, we don’t do a single second of focus group research because I instinctively know who you are. I know who you are in my audience, so we don’t have it any of that. So our advertisers don’t have to waste any — spend any money in market research or focus-grouping or any of that. All they have to do is trust that I will like the product, and that’s done, that’s it, it’s over with. ‘Cause they know that you are who you are, just by virtue of being here.