If the Superbowl ads taught us anything, it was that you can spend a lot of money for little to no recognition.
I don't know the goals of those advertisers, but I watched the game and I can't recall a single ad. I know that James Bond was advertised and that's about it.
Looking back at the ads it's easy to see why. The kitsch humor, tame themes and a safe proven formula mean that nothing stands out. A multi-million dollar 30-second slot is not the place to test new material.
Brands that stand for nothing, that risk nothing, aren't memorable and don't differentiate themselves from the competition.
The good news for professional services is that marketing itself need not be risky or controversial. The risk for a firm or team is to pick your target and stand for something that matters to them.
Simon Yoxall, managing partner at Iris, a global creative innovation network that counts Samsung, LEGO, adidas, KFC, and Starbucks among its brands, agrees: “It’s down to risk-aversion, not wanting to alienate themselves and trying to appease a broad customer base, explains Yoxall, who leads a team of creatives from Iris’ New York office. ”Playing it safe is dangerous – you risk meaning nothing; brands that can successfully and credibly root themselves in to the culture that a consumer is interested in, and do so in a ‘stand out’ way, are going to find much greater success, and long term success at that.”