All in all I think it was a pretty lackluster performance by Madison Avenue during last night's Super Bowl. For $100,000 per second of airtime you'd think companies would strive to create a little more resonance.
Last night's best ad, in my opinion, was the Cash4Gold.com spot featuring high-profile financial disasters MC Hammer and Ed McMahon. But even this remarkably honest self-effacing brand-abasement isn't new. MC Hammer's a repeat offender in this sort of coming-clean advertising, having appeared alongside Kevin Federline in Nationwide Insurance's 'Life Comes At You Fast' campaign.
But most of what we saw last night seemed very familiar. Wackiness for the sake of laughs without much real association with, or message about, the brands it claims to be promoting. I guess the message in this risk-averse economic environment, is just that, stick with what you know, Bud Lite will keep being nutty, Coke will keep being family-oriented, Pepsi still doesn't have a clue. And the most forward-thinking marketing we'll see is from those companies with the lowest-concept business models (read: the least to lose).
Lastly, what exactly is the cultural and economic harbinger of 'we're melting gold baby!'? It seems a celebration of a distinct downward shift in consumer economics. Certainly Cash4Gold.com is a carpet bagger of sorts, emerging triumphant in less than triumphant times for the American consumer. Should we be distrubed by the fact that they can spend a few million dollars and feel condfident they can reach the right audience this way? Is this the early whisper of doom for American free-market capitalism?
If Cash4Gold is right, and we're returning to simpler economic times, maybe we should start hoarding our metal.