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Tuesday, 08 February 2005

Monday-morning armchair advertisers are confused.

Post-Super Bowl armchair quarterbacking pales in comparison to navel-gazing about the ads that appeared between plays on Sunday. And evidently this sport is unencumbered by the need to look at actual evidence, facts, or other supporting information.

If the advertising pundits want us to take them seriously, they need to demonstrate that they have a basis for classifying content, evaluating audience response, and measuring short- and long-term impact -- besides gut feel, self-important conclusions, and isolated anecdotes. Consider these flimsy, conflicted assessments reported in Monday's Wall Street Journal Marketplace section: Patriotism, P. Diddy Shine In a Less-Than-Super Ad Bowl by Suzanne Vranica, Feb 7, p. B1 [password required]. "Companies played it too safe." ...Industry observers expected viewers to mostly reject this year's squeaky-clean and saccharine-laden ad lineup. (Question: How do we, as viewers, "reject" an ad?)

Contrast that summary with: "Early reviews found Ameriquest's man caught in the compromising position of holding a knife and a cat disturbing." The "image is pretty troubling," said Neil Powell, president of Powell, a New York ad firm. "Ameriquest will be sending out a public apology after that one." Hmmm. Evidently risk-taking is encouraged only when it can guarantee a safe, successful outcome (!). I watched the Super Bowl, too, so I can weigh in with my own anecdotal evidence from middle America: The party crowd in Highlands Ranch, Colorado clapped and cheered about the 'bloody-cat' ad -- no Ameriquest apology necessary. And they loved GoDaddy.com.

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