Companies must rethink Super Bowl ad strategies

This is not 1984, and you, Snickers, are not Apple.

This is not 1984, and you, Snickers, are not Apple.

If there weren't so much money involved, the Super Bowl super-ad tradition might have faded away. But like much of advertising, the marketing discipline with the gaudy expenditures, it's all about the big bang. Everyone (save for Nationwide Insurance, which leaked its Kevin Federline video to the Internet) holds their ads close to the vest until halftime.

Perhaps if Snickers had followed Nationwide's lead and tested its ads, it would not be facing the glaring eye of the media this week. But it did not, so Snickers' commercial, showing two men mistakenly kiss, then recoil in horror, has wrecked any post-Super Bowl effort the confectioner might have had.

Intelligent minds can debate whether Snickers' ad was homophobic, criticizing homophobia, or blithely unaware of the consequences. But more than a few gay men have taken to the Internet to point out that assault against gay men remains a threat, and, to them, the connotation of violence was very hurtful.

Where the campaign truly faltered was when Snickers invited three Chicago Bears players to watch the ad and express stereotypical macho male disgust at the images. To make matters worse, Weber Shandwick, Snickers' PR agency, was pitching these reactions to the media in the hopes the ad would get more play. It did, but for the wrong reasons.

In 1984, before the digital cable explosion, widespread adoption of home movie players, and, of course, the World Wide Web, the public clamored for such an event where new content was debuted in such a dramatic fashion. There are too many options today to match the force of Apple's iconic ad. Ads still can be conversational fodder today, but that price, more expensive than $2.6 million, is just too much.

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