A day for football and advertising

I had a super run this morning. Temperature in the upper 20s. No wind to speak of. No cars. So now I’m ready for Super Bowl Sunday, a day of debauchery for fans of football and advertising.

I’m not sure I’m much of a fan of either, particularly since my Terrible Towel, the original from the early ‘70s, remains folded today in the closet. I’ll root for the advertisers.images.jpeg

When I was at BFGoodrich, we had a rather modest corporate advertising budget of about $4 million a year. And during the annual budget reviews, I always had such an enjoyable time trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of that advertising. Those were the days when BFGoodrich, the company, was trying to convince investors and analysts that it was no longer a tire manufacturer. At the same time another company, Michelin, was spending about $25 million a year promoting BFGoodrich brand tires. It’s a long story. Trust me.

So every year I went to the budget reviews wearing my protective cup and hoping for the best.

I thought about that this morning when I read in the Akron Beacon Journal that Kent State and the University of Akron are going to advertise regionally before, during and after the game. Both according to the article are going to “pitch academic excellence.”

That to me makes sense. If you are trying to reach a mass audience then you might as well take advantage of this national holiday and go for it.

But I’ll admit that I did chuckle a little while reading the article written by Carol Biliczky. Carol, by the way, used to work with me at BFGoodrich. Here is what she wrote that grabbed my attention. I inserted the info in brackets.

There is no way to gauge their [the ads] effectiveness, he [UA spokesman Ken Torisky] said, but one measure is the feedback that Proenza [UA President Luis Proenza] has received in previous years from people who tell him they saw the commercial.

Proenza has appeared in most of them, Torisky said.

“People make it a point to tell him they saw it,” Torisky said.

Please. I beg you. On behalf of anyone who has ever had to try to demonstrate the effectiveness of a costly ad buy, next time youiron_city.jpg see Dr. Proenza tell him you saw the ads. Even if you really were in the bathroom or getting another can of Iron City. (Please don’t tell the students in my ethics class I just said that.)

And I know that this will get me into trouble. But I’m looking forward to the Victoria’s Secret ad featuringph2008020100233.jpg model Adriana Lama.

Now that should be excellent.


4 responses to “A day for football and advertising

  1. Rob,
    Applause to UofA and KSU for taking full advantage of regional adveritising during the most watched program of the year. As for ROI and effectiveness, more can be recorded than the passing “I saw you” to the pres. What happened to measuring call volumes, web hits, etc.? All these are still valid measurement tools for this type of advertising. You should challenge your students by asking them more ways to justify the spent ad dollars. I bet they could come up with a great list to pass along to Torisky.

  2. Jennifer,

    You’re absolutely right. That’s what made me chuckle when I read the story this morning. I’ll admit that it is somewhat difficult to measure the effectiveness of these “image” ads. It’s a lot like the PR strategy of “increasing awareness.” But whether you’re spending $40,000 or $4 million you really should be able to measure results. As part of the Goodrich advertising I mentioned, we had written surveys, phone interviews and focus group sessions. We found that even with $4 million in advertising over a number of years we were not having any measurable success with our target audience. So we stopped.


  3. Rob,

    Something tells me your Goodrich ads probably focused on product and performance, not your CEO. I’m guessing people tell the UA prez they’ve seen the ads because the prez is such a conspicuous part of them. I mean, how can you miss the guy?

    I know it worked for Iacocca. But he was taller.

  4. Bill,

    I kind of liked Iacocca. (Even though he spoiled your Uniroyal news conference.) At the time he certainly preformed better than most Chrysler products. And who knows. If Henry Ford would have let him take over Ford, we might still have an auto industry in this country. Disclaimer: I’m a long-suffering Ford shareholder.

    And Jen Kramer argues correctly that you should be able to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of these UA/KSU image ads. But realistically, when the prez is featured in the ads is anyone at the university going to say that they were anything less than great? Even if he comes off as being a doofus, who is going to tell him. Oops. Probably shouldn’t have said that.

    And then there is the bigger question. I thought you would be interested in the Victoria’s Secret ad. You are getting old.


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