And finally, they are one of the few big advertisers in their category. I bet you can't name any other of the top five web-hosting providers. The other advertisers don't have sex as their primary marketing strategy. They have pulled it out for the Super Bowl as a special tact for this occasion. If you take a look at the top 15 Super Bowl commercials of all time you'll find that sex only finds the list twice: Joe Namath and Farah Fawcett for Noxzema and Cindy Crawford for Pepsi. The Xerox Monk, Mean Joe Greene for Coke, Apple's breakthrough 1984 ad, Michael Jordan and Larry Byrd playing one-on-one for McDonalds, The Budweiser Frogs, Monster.com's cinematic "When I grow Up", E*TRADE's Monkeys, EDS's Cat Herders, Linebacker Terry Tate for Reebok, Budweiser's Clydesdales, Brad Pitt for Heineken and Betty White for Snickers all won with humor and star power. And each (with varying degrees of success) manages to connect the activity on the screen to a product attribute.
I suspect that like in years past this year's attempts to use sex will be middle-of-the road efforts that might catch your eye but fail to connect with audience at the deeper level needed to initiate a sell or spur consumer brand interest. The strategic problem that is almost impossible to overcome when using this tactic is that connecting a brand benefit to sex is a long shot unless like the professor says that's what you're selling.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Larry Woodard is a director on the Advertising Week board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' New York Council.
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