What a CMO Looks Like When He Knows His Super Bowl Ad Was a Total Waste

Adobe punks the Big Game again

Are you going all in with a TV buy on the Super Bowl without a proper accompanying data-driven digital strategy to really take advantage of that flood of viewer interest? If so, you're not going to have a very happy Sunday, says Adobe.

The company on Monday released the latest amusing spot in its ongoing "Do you know what your marketing is doing?" campaign from Goodby Silverstein & Partners. This one centers on a sad-sack CMO on Super Bowl Sunday, who has bought time on the big game, and is watching it all unfold—along with the beginning of the end of his marketing career—in a bar. (Either this guy doesn't have a family, or any friends, or he's been such a cranky-ass stress case these past few weeks that no one wants anything to do with him tonight.)

It should go without saying that it doesn't go well. The spot, after all, pushes Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions, which give marketers the tools for online measurement and activation to go along with a TV buy. 

Adobe has punked the Super Bowl for a number of years now, going back to 2013, when it unveiled a GS&P spot the day after the game, showing a chimpanzee and a horse humorously questioning the value of a Big Game buy. But in fact, Alex Amado, Adobe's vp of experience marketing, tells Adweek that the company isn't anti-TV advertising at all.

"This spot isn't 'anti-TV advertising,' it's 'pro-data,' " he says. "We're big fans of TV advertising, especially around key events like the Super Bowl, as it remains one of the few ways to get truly massive reach at a very focused moment in time. But those moments have become so expensive that marketers need to make their TV ads part of a broader marketing strategy that is heavy on digital, appropriately targeted, and ultimately driven by data."

Amado adds: "Our message this time was really, 'If you aren't using data and insights to drive your marketing, it's just a gamble.' "

This is evident from the very first frame of the spot, when our doomed CMO is holding what looks like a poker chip and he fidgets restlessly at the bar. The dismayed reaction of his fellow bar patrons, at the end of the spot, to what sounds like a Caribbean-themed cream cheese commercial is pretty perfect.

"This ad is saying that any marketing investment that isn't informed by data could be an unnecessary gamble with your company's money," says Amado. "Marketers today have access to more data and insights than ever before, but they need to be disciplined about harnessing it and understanding what it's telling them. With this ad, we're reminding marketers to 'look at the data' to gain meaningful insights before they run any big marketing plays—and that they're ready to take advantage of the brief attention and focus a big ad placement will give them, or else they just might risk losing in the Big Game."

Simon Bruyn, copywriter at GS&P, says the spot serves as a warning.

"We all know how expensive the Super Bowl has become for advertisers, yet so often brands buy up media without understanding if it actually makes sense for them," he says. "Given the high stakes, we wanted to remind marketers about the Adobe Marketing Cloud solutions available to help them with their big decision, and possibly save them a ton of money, and embarrassment."

The spot is running online, particularly on sites where content and commentary around the Super Bowl ad will be featured. It will get a heavy paid push across online channels including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. And it will also get a few national and local U.S. market TV placements, including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Saturday Night Live and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. 

• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.