Marketing Lessons, Courtesy of Super Bowl XLII

There were approximately 40 million women among the 90 million people watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, and Pats fan Andrea Learned was one of them. The night was a letdown for Learned the sports fan — but not for Learned the marketer and author of Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy — and How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market.

This year’s Super Bowl ads are illustrative of a forward-looking trend among marketers to better assess their customers and not divide them into stereotypical, homogenous groups, Learned told CRM Buyer. In other words, if you like watching the Super Bowl, then that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a beer-swilling guy.

“What is happening is that the smart brands are approaching marketing by focusing on the common interest of the group,” said Learned. Love of football, in this case, is the common interest. “You could see that in the ads that were running; the humor used in most of them was not gender-related as much,” she said.

Learned touches on this theme of gender and marketing in her blog post,“What The Super Bowl and ESPN: The Magazine Know About Women.”

“The transparent rule,” she wrote. “Be guided and inspired by the consumers you serve, and voila — you reach your best customers, and then some.”

Yes, Victoria’s Secret was back in this year’s ad mix after an almost-10-year hiatus, but that that isn’t really the big point, according to Learned. VS is a brand that more truly markets to men and does a great job of it too. But it also is able to see the bigger picture — that there is a larger market out there, which includes sports fans who happen to be female.

“By focusing more on the shared interests of the coed consumer group, the NFL/Super Bowl includes women by default and serves the highest customer standard in general,” she wrote.

Victoria’s Secret was actually outdone by the small army of animals — from lizards, to horses to dogs to giant carrier pigeons to deer to chipmunks — that starred in this year’s ads, Learned noted. “They were relevant for a wider demographic. And they were funny.”

Not everybody got the humor — or, for that matter, liked this year’s line-up of ads.“Super Bowl Ads…less than impressive and a tad unpleasant,” a post on the blog of Dave Syferd & Partners, a mid-size ad agency, contends that the ads fell short — very short — of expectations.

“Ummm isn’t this a time to shine?” asks the blogger. “With millions of dollars at stake wouldn’t one think these ads would rock our socks off? Not so much. I personally was less than impressed with this years showing and even kind of grossed out. The CareerBuilder’s commercial? I mean, yeah I get it, but was the bloody heart popping out of that woman’s chest really necessary? Or the ETrade commercials with those Pandas? They even offended me. Not only did the Pat’s drop the ball last night but so did the advertisers.”

Super Bowl Postscripts

If you missed seeing the ads the first time around, you cancheck them out on MySpace.

For a look at the top-ranking ads this year, clickhere.

Ok, so I didn’t actually spot any blogs about this, but it is worth noting: One of the few tech companies that advertised during the Super Bowl is Sales Genie, which offers a Web 2.0 CRM application.

Too New For Theory

Search engine optimization is another hot topic this week in the blogosphere, given Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo. As new as the space is, it has grown to represent an enormous share of the marketing landscape. Unfortunately, some say, there is still too little known about it — even though billions of dollars are sunk into the technologies and strategies.

In his blog, “SEO Theory,” Michael Martinez, director of search strategies at 1st Query in Seattle, wrote that search engine optimization itself isstill chaotically defined according to whims and personal preferences. “What is the meaning of ‘search engine marketing,’ for example?” he asks. “I’ve always preferred to associate it with pay-per-click advertising but too many people still associate it with so-called organic SEO for that association to be authoritative.

“Search engine optimization is not a science,” Martinez continues, “and if ever a formal discipline grows up around this topic the odds that the theorems and definitions I have proposed on this blog will carry much weight in the academic literature are pretty long. Academics do, despite my occasional criticisms, scour the Web for grass-roots data, raw social expression of emerging concepts. My science fiction and fantasy Web activities have been mentioned in several academic studies, for example, and I know many other similar ‘hobbyist’ sites have been profiled, surveyed, documented, critiqued, and analyzed through formal analysis.”

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