Issue LXXXV: Make (Super Bowl) Ads Great Again
From Serial Marketer: "The Cutting Edge of Marketing”

Every year, the complaints seem to get louder.

Super Bowl ads never seem to be as good as they used to be. 

It's like the industry pundits and armchair campaign quarterbacks are shouting, "MAGA! Make ads great again!"

When were they so much better? 

Snickers this year parodied Coca-Cola's "Hilltop" ad. I thought the original might have been a Super Bowl ad, but it debuted in July 1971, months after a failed attempt at running it solely on the radio.

I thought Coke's "Mean" Joe Greene ad, dubbed, "Hey Kid, Catch!", was a Super Bowl ad. Wrong again -- it first aired October 1979.

At least Apple's "1984" ad was a Super Bowl spot, and it did debut in 1984; that one wasn't a trick.

Outside of a few standouts like Apple's, I don't think most of us can remember many specific ads that were so much better than those that ran Sunday. Maybe we can remember that Betty White was in a commercial or two years ago, and she makes everything better. Maybe we New Yorkers have such fond memories of beating the Brady-era Patriots twice (you're welcome, the rest of America) that the ads seem to have been more thrilling too. 

Or maybe it's like our nostalgia for America or anything else. Times seemed simpler and better and less convoluted than they do now, even if, say, tens of millions of people faced legal discrimination due to their skin color, or so many millions of people were denied the opportunity to marry their life partners. That doesn't matter. Our hair was fuller then. We were in charge, with our waistlines not quite as large. Good times.

It's time for a new narrative, especially this year.

It's not that the ads stopped getting worse. There might have never been a bottoming out -- at least not in any timeframe that I can recall. There have always been great ads and terrible ones, yet despite me being a card-carrying member of the ad industry (well, I do have a punchcard for Tasti-D-Lite), I can barely remember any of them.

This year, quite a few of the ads were very good.

They told stories. They plugged products. They made you remember who the brand was.

Heck, two of the top three commercials by most consensus votes, including USA Today's Ad Meter, were car ads. Can you ever tell the difference among car ads? And yet, we had Bill Murray loving every extra day braving the elements with his Jeep, and Captain America lauding "Office" Jim on his Hyundai Sonata's self-parking. I'd watch both on instant replay

After Google's ad -- practically summoning the widower from "Up" as he raced time to fight the onset of his own dementia -- was there any doubt that this memory preservation was solely something Google Home could do? I love Alexa, but I can't imagine her memory's quite that good (ironically, Amazon's spokesperson happened to be the voice of Dory, Disney's amnesiac fish).

After Tide's ad -- I mean ads -- would you really believe that any other detergent could erase a stain even it wasn't pre-treated? Hell no. This is some kind of Procter & Gamble voodoo, and as soon as I'm done consuming my current Tide Pods (in the laundry, of course -- not orally), I'm buying whatever platinum plus black card detergent that's going to save my clothes from extinction. 

I'm not going to say every ad this year was that great. Some of the parodies seemed especially weak, including a certain candy bar's send-up of a soda brand's iconic ad, and a certain website not being able to determine whether to go all-in with the accents with its Fargo homage. "Office" Dwight's ad wasn't as good as "Office" Jim's, but at least Dwight's made it clear that Little Caesars now delivers. I'm a New Yorker, so it was news to me that Little Caesars previously didn't deliver. I almost ate Little Caesars once, last year at a Malaysia rest stop, but the pizza wasn't going to be ready in the common era, so I had to grab something else.

Congrats to the thousands of people who gave it their best shot to work on these ads that air under such a brutally bright spotlight. Not everyone gets to create work that a hundred million people might see simultaneously. There are no do-overs, even if the 49ers and a few of the advertisers would love another shot. There's always next year.

For the 49ers, especially with Jimmy Garoppolo leading the charge, there should be quite a few next years. For Assistant Coach Katie Sowers, she opened the door for generations of women and LGBT people to pursue careers that they thought might have been off-limits; kudos to Microsoft for making her name even better known. 

Next year, you'll hear tons of people say the ads keep getting worse. Challenge them on it. When were the ads that much better? What made them so much better? Betty White hasn't been in every ad every year. And in 2020, we even got Bill Murray. Bill Murray! We also got some memorable performances by J-Lo, Shakira, and that Mahomes kid. Not bad, America.

It all made for a terrific few hours. I'll take it.

I'll also take a moment to ask you my favorite question: What are you making of yourself?


PS: First Wednesday is back tonight in NYC. See details below.


Slate explores the downside of Google's "Loretta" ad where we entrust it so much with our memories. Oddly, this piece that is largely against the premise of the ad makes the case for even more immersive and invasive tech. One of the problems here seems to be that the tech isn't rich enough. If it layered in more artificial intelligence and also got people to share more detailed stories, it could create more powerful memories. And you can't fault the tech company for allowing people to create a mind map that isn't later used. It's quite possible that the person recording a loved one's memories won't remember how to access all of it, but that doesn't mean it's a bad product.

Profitero takes a look at Amazon market share spikes for CPG products advertised during the Super Bowl. Coke Energy did especially well, while other brands saw competitors try to steal their prospects. There is solid advice on what to do when managing such cross-channel programs. I am surprised some of the spikes aren't even higher though considering several of these are new (and presumably low-awareness) products. Also, I wish there was some estimate in terms of the value to the brand, even back of the envelope math, to show what the potential return on investment was for such advertisers. Thanks to my old (as in former) boss Sarah Hofstetter for sharing this via LinkedIn.

Using a simple (but not simplistic), straightforward format, here are briefs from 10 Super Bowl ads as imagined, all plausibly, by Julian Cole. Thanks to Orli LeWinter for the share.


Following the debut of Berky's Marketing English in issue LXXXIV, I'll include a couple of entries here weekly. Send in any other topics I should cover

Super Bowl

The annual American football championship match featuring 11 minutes of action and 50 minutes of advertising.

America has its priorities in order.


Like much of what can be considered traditional media consumption, the notion of “television” is in the eye of the beholder.

Seinfeld streamed on a mobile device will always be television. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee streamed to a television will never be television; it will always be an online or streamed show.

The Mandalorian is television that often feels cinematic. Toy Story 4 is a movie. Forky Asks a Question is a series of streamed shorts.

The Morning Show might be television, but to find out, that means you need to activate your subscription to Apple TV+.

Schitt’s Creek is television. Ozark is television. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel tries so hard to be television that it’s almost a streaming series, but it’s television. The Handmaid’s Tale is television, but it’s also a book, and now two books, and it might have been better off as a single book.


Want to include your event below? Just reply with the details.

February 5, Royalton Park Avenue (29th St)
Serial Marketers has teamed up with First Wednesdays to bring back this long-standing tradition in NYC. Every month, we meet at the top-floor penthouse bar from 6-9. While Zack Rosenberg and Rachel Herskovitz post the event links on Facebook, if you want the recurring invite on your calendar, just let me know, and I'll add you to it. I'm also now sending updates via Meetup.

February 20
I'm a big fan of this org; you should check out this event featuring Gregory Wilkins (soul artist), B. Anderson (meditation teacher & community organizer), Quemuel Arroyo (global head of community at Charge), Sandra Okerulu (stylist & costume designer), and ScienZe (hip hop artist). More info: "The #RedefiningBadassery series celebrates the richness of our culture, community and history through storytelling. This event not only amplifies stories from underheard voices, but also different ways of storytelling, from slam poetry to musical performances, for an inclusive and inspiring experience."

February 25
Hosted by SimilarWeb, they have some terrific speakers like my friend Kevin Lee of Did-It fame, and I'll be going to this one.  

(I'll have more updates on SXSW as we get closer.)
March 11, 2020
Austin, TX
Attention Designers! Place by Design is a pitch competition aimed at showcasing innovative and invigorating design in the public sphere. Urbanists, artists, architects, and designers have the opportunity to present their scalable solutions for improving our shared landscape.

Awards ceremony: March 27, 2020, in Venice, Italy
Voting ends today!
BOLD Awards recognizes top companies, projects and individuals powering breakthroughs around the world.

April 29-30
I loved this event so much in New York that I'm joining them in Chicago as both a speaker and media sponsor. I'll be speaking about how to build and run a successful B2B community, and of course I will be including examples from many others, with a bit of experience covering mistakes I've made that others can learn from.

May 13-14, 2020
"The premier global gathering in visual tech" is run by one of my favorite firms of any sort out there, LDV Capital. They specialize in bringing some of the best people together in all sorts of ways.


Reach out to me if you want introductions or any additional information, and let me know if you have other job postings you'd like to share. There have also been many job updates within the Slack community, so if you're part of that, be sure to check the #jobs channel for more. 

Account Manager, Programmatic
Via David K. in Slack: The Account Manager is responsible for all phases of the Varick post-sale process. This entails supporting the Sales Team through the post-campaign life cycle post campaign analysis, wrap up reporting, and liasoning with traders to ensure campaign success. The Account Manager collaborates across all operational teams as well as communicates directly with clients to provide consultative support and best in class client service through strategic thinking.

VP Marketing
See details here. Reach out if you want me to refer you their way:

A strategic and creative marketing professional that has a wide breadth of experience in multiple marketing disciplines. This person:
*Will excel at building Axio's brand voice and image
*Can project manage and execute effective demand generation campaigns through events, social media, and online channels
*Has interest or curiosity about the cybersecurity space and the evolution of the industry.

Axio helps organizations understand cyber exposure, calculate risk, and make data-driven decisions that improve their security and risk posture.  

Director of Product Marketing
Via Dorothy in Slack: "I’m hiring a Director (head) of Product Marketing at Paxos in NYC. Paxos is a B2B fintech startup using blockchain tech, building infrastructure to make assets more accessible and to make them move faster in a new, open financial system. The company is full of mission-driven, smart, kind, humble, ambitious and collaborative people. Looking for a player/coach to build and run this brand new function." DM or email her in Slack, or apply directly. I can make an intro as needed.

Marketing Director (Product)
This is an opportunity to be their first marketing hire. See lots of details in the description. They also have customer success roles open. If you're in Slack, you can find the post and contact Melissa.

Senior Account Manager
Brooklyn, NY
Via my friend David Yarus. Let me know if you want me to refer you: "Looking for a rockstar client-service account lead for one of our core accounts. Ideally 6+ years agency CS experience, tired of the big agency world and seeking quality of life and work/life/vibe-alignment. Competitive comp. Need someone who loves owning the client relationship, understands digital / social / performance, and down with light team travel & WFH Wednesdays."

Director, Product Marketing
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Attribution
Foursquare has some exciting openings in New York. Check out the links, find Daniela in Slack, or let me know if you want an intro.

Other job resources:
-Ad Ops Online: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more
-ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted
-Facebook Groups: NYC Ad Jobs & Networking
-TechNY Daily: While more technical, there are also some sales and marketing jobs at NY startups
-VentureLoop: Free startup job listings; their paid option is $15/month and might surface more leads

Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I'll share them.


David Berkowitz, publisher


100+ TECH RECOMMENDATIONS (updated regularly)

18 TYPES OF STARTUP MARKETERS (now in quiz form, thanks to Riddle)

LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter / Meetup

Share it. Sponsor it. Or, hey, Patreon.

The most important rights reserved. You can have the other ones.
(c) 2020 Serial Marketer
PS: Thank you so much for reading this.


This email was sent to you only because you subscribed. To remove yourself and get that awkward email from me asking you what happened, unsubscribe below. (I'm probably kidding about the awkward email part.)
Copyright © 2020 Serial Marketer. The best rights reserved. You can have the other rights.

Want to change how you receive these emails? 
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list .
I do hope you stick around though.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp