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I don’t know about you, but I get dozens of e-mails a day. Many are from colleagues, but several are from content-rich sources covering marketing and public relations topics. While I opt-in to these daily or weekly newsletters and blogs, I still find that I have limited time to really read through the entire e-mail. And I know that I am not unlike other professionals in other industries – we are all doing more with less and are strapped for time. That is why is it critical that you have the right message to capture your audience’s attention when you have just a second to do so.

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I went to a local mall at noon today to grab lunch and noticed a group of people standing at the entrance with yellow mall vests and clipboards in their hands. Since I’m in the marketing business, I immediately assumed they were taking a survey.

A very nice young lady asked me if I had a moment; when I said yes, she told me that the mall sponsored their presence to remind shoppers of the importance of car safety. She asked if they could check my car and suggest opportunities for improved safety. Why not, I figured – who wouldn’t want a free car check?

They walked with me to my car and checked the tires, windshield wipers, lights, and all the glass. They noted that my windshield had a small crack, which I frankly had not seen. They also informed me that in our state this could be repaired for free under my comprehensive insurance coverage. The closer was that they represented a local auto service center that could remedy my problem, and they provided me with a business card and discount coupon.

What a great approach to marketing a service! In B2B marketing, we sometimes forget that providing educational information and content about a subject, or a free performance analysis/inspection of a system, can be quite persuasive. Often times this free service can even uncover a need that you can fulfill for your customers.

How could you apply this same technique for your company? Perhaps consider ideas such as:
• If you service or manufacture electric motors, offer a vibration analysis or energy efficiency evaluation.
• If you manufacture a component for OEMs, provide a list of the top ten design options for using this type of component to improve the efficiency of the end product.
• If you sell OSHA safety material, provide a free annual safety audit.

I’m sure you can see how this works and think of plenty of applications for your company.

So last night’s Packers/Steelers Super Bowl was a pretty good game, going down to the last minute. And the Super Bowl commercials? There were a few hits, a couple of touchdowns, and a number of fumbles.

So sit back and enjoy VantagePoint Marketing’s second annual Super Bowl commercial review, where I give my first impressions of each national ad (and a few locals too), as they happened, from kickoff to closing plays. (We caught as many of them as we could as they aired here in Greenville; you can see all the commercials at the Fox Sports website or on YouTube.)

1. Bud Light: Home improvement show redecorates the kitchen by adding a bucket of beer. Not particularly memorable, but the title of the show (“Hack Job”) is a nice touch.

2. Doritos: Guy makes fool of himself taunting a dog with a Dorito; guy gets floored when dog crashed through the front door. Nice.

3. Audi: What a great setup. Two guys escaping a luxury jail (literally). One chooses a Mercedes as his getaway car (“my father owned one”) and is captured; the other chooses an Audi and gets away. Nice cameo by Kenny G.

4. Doritos: Gross. Dude sucks another dude’s fingers and steals a co-workers pants for Doritos dust. Just gross.

5. Chevrolet Cruze: Clever way to repeatedly state that the Cruze gets 42mpg, although using hard-of-hearing elderly folk might be a bit politically incorrect.

6. Pepsi Max: Wife steals high-calorie food from husband, and hurls Pepsi Max can, striking innocent bystander. Does violence sell (fake) sugar water?

7. Bud Light: Dozens of anachronistic Bud Light product placements in a swashbuckler movie, including a Bud Light stained glass window. Is it a commercial, or a commentary on the preponderance of product placements?

8. Chevrolet Silverado HD: Truck becomes Lassie rescuing Tommy. (“I didn’t even know this town HAD a volcano!”) Great way to show the capability of the truck over and over again, and great cinematic touches. One of the night’s best.

9. Fast Five movie: Fast & Furious, same song, third verse. (Or is it the fourth?)

10. Pepsi Max: Make fun of geek, geek gets revenge. Yawn.

11. Doritos. Doritos can revive fish, plants, and grandpa. Gross. Again.

12. Hyundai: Apparently we’ve been hypnotized into believing that compact cars are boring. Problem is, they don’t show us the exception to the rule for more than just a few seconds.

13. Cowboys & Aliens movie: The other trailers I’ve seen are better.

14. Kia Optima: So, apparently everyone wants the new Optima – the cops, the bad guys (was that the helicopter from Airwolf?), the sea gods, the aliens, and . . . the Mayans? It is a pretty cool looking sedan, though.

15. Brisk: A stop-action Eminem ad. We learn why he doesn’t do ads. But we learn nothing about the product.

16. Bridgestone: An embarrassing “reply-all” email leads a cubicle-dweller on an around-the-state quest to gather everyone’s computers. Problem is, the retrieval barely features cars or tires, so it doesn’t tie sufficiently to the brand.

17. Chevrolet Volt: A very nice use of the history of electricity to position the Volt as historical.

18. Go Daddy: Joan Rivers is the new Go Daddy.co girl. Yikes. The ad does its part to make the point that the new domain suffix is .co, not .com.

19. Budweiser: The clydesdales save a saloon shootout. Cinematically gorgeous, great comic timing, unexpected “Tiny Dancer” singalong. Probably the best ad of the night.

20. Teleflora. Could be funny, but ends up being a bit crass. Not the best tie in to the new Faith Hill collection (what is it?), but her the look on her face is great.

21. Transformers: Nothing new here folks, just more of the same. Which probably means it works perfectly for the target audience.

22. BMW: Go South Carolina! Ok, not the strongest commercial, but anything that mentions the Upstate favorably on national TV can’t be bad.

23. Motorola Xoom: This ad tries to invoke Apple’s 1984, unsuccessfully. It doesn’t really sell the uniqueness of the tablet, and the hooded masses look more like a precursor to the dancing crowd from the halftime show.

24. BMW diesel: Funny. Definitely shows BMW diesel in a good light. Might be even better on a second watching.

25. Coke: Interesting – Planet of the Apes meets Lord of the Rings meets the 4th of July.

26. Thor movie: Um, ok. Not nearly enough info to make me want to see it.

27. Volkwagen: This is the 30-second version of the mini-Darth Vader spot. Still very good, but not nearly as good as the 60-second version. VW did pull a major PR coup though by releasing the 60-second version before the game — 14 million views on YouTube can’t be bad.

28. Snickers: This may have been the best thing to happen to Roseanne since, well, forever.

29. CareerBuilder: Dude gets overrun by chimps again, this time in the parking lot. Not as funny as when he’s in the office, and I can’t help but cringe at the damage to the cars. Doesn’t help me remember CareerBuilder.

30. Super 8 movie: Interesting music juxtaposition. Unlike Thor, the mystery makes me want to see it.

31. Chevrolet Cruze: Facebook status updates? Is that really why I buy a car? Um, no.

32. Captain America movie: Another superhero movie? Yawn.

33. CarMax: The giant circle of similes. Sortof funny, but what’s it have to do with selling cars?

34. UPS Store: Not sure how “we love logistics” applies to color copies. Otherwise, entertaining.

35. Salesforce Chatter: Not sure what it is, or what it does. But bracketing the halftime show with stop-action Black Eyed Peas was clever.

36. The Daily: Nothing earth-shaking, but they tell what it is (electronic tablet newspaper/magazine) clearly over a remixed “What a Wonderful World.” Makes me want an iPad. Oh, wait. I already wanted an iPad.

37. Cars.com: Yeah, making fun of people getting killed. What a way to sell cars.

38. E-Trade: Creepy baby, creepy tailor. Doesn’t help me want to use E-Trade, that’s for sure.

39. Best Buy: Ozzy and Justin Bieber are not enough to save the lack of a clear explanation of the Buy Back program. Confusing entertainment doesn’t help sell a new service.

40. Pirates movie: Mermaids, zombies, Blackbeard, & Jack. Fun!

41. Mini Countryman: I think we could do with out the double entendre, but otherwise a satisfactory job of show the extra cargo capacity of the countryman.

42. HomeAway.com: Actually explains the service AND is entertaining. I love the test baby — the best use of a flying doll in a commercial perhaps ever.

43. Hyundai: Less trance, more car, please.

44. Groupon: The fake “save Tibet” approach gets you drawn in, and Groupon makes the sale when the ruse is up. But I couldn’t help but feel I’d been had. After all, there is a real political struggle going on in Tibet.

45. Coke: World peace by way of a Coke? Well, at least border peace? Cute, but I got the point 10 seconds in. 50 seconds of wasted advertising in my book.

46. Stella Artois: Jazz club, smoky swooner, gorgeous girls. I don’t get it.

47. CarMax: Guy pulls up to service station and gets unprecedented customer service. “Are you trying to steal my engine?” “I’m being carjacked!” “Oh, dear, my delivery!” Funniest lines of the night, and a great way to make the point about customer service.

48. Chrysler: Detroit knows luxury? Why? “The hottest fires make the hardest steel” doesn’t answer the question. Gorgeous cinematography, well directed, nice soundtrack, and Eminem (again!) make for a good piece of film. But a 90-second commercial to sell a slightly redesigned mediocre family sedan seems like a waste of money. (Hey, waitaminutehere — that’s MY money!)

49. NFL: Best fans ever, illustrated by what seemed like 60 great classic TV show clips crammed into 60 seconds. Will definitely bear multiple watchings.

50. Jack in the Box: Jack grows a Lincoln beard in honor of America. I love what they can do with his head.

51. Rango movie: Action. Romance. Comedy. Explosions. And Johnny Depp. Sign me up.

52. Cars.com: Talking cars make snarky comments about one another.

53. Bud Light: Dogs host a party. And they close by, you guessed it, playing cards. I saw it coming 25 seconds away.

54. Hyundai: Great concept – what if we settled for giant brick cell phones, portable record players, bike races on giant wheeled bikes. But I can’t remember what it had to do with Hyundai.

55. Pepsi Max: I wonder if this ad could have been any more demeaning to men in general.

56. Rio movie: I think we’ve seen it all in the trailer. Or, as my son said, Happy Feet 2, Tropics edition.

57. Bridgestone: The man spares the beaver, the beaver saves the man. Now go buy some tires.

58. Go Daddy: Innuendo, but not much skin. I guess that’s an improvement?

59. VW Beetle: A beetle with racing stripes zooms through the insect world. No, I mean a REAL beetle. Fun. Simple. Clever.

60. Mercedes: Fun to watch, and P. Diddy was great. But not sure how all the Mercedes leaving their owners match up with releasing new models.

61. Chevrolet Camaro: Love the parody of every car commercial cliche ever. “She’s a teacher.” “I did not see that coming.”

62. Verizon: The “can you hear me now” guy comes back and answers an iPhone. Classic.

63. Limitless movie: Cryptic. Maybe a combination of Wall Street, Inception, and Vanilla Sky?

64. Skechers: Skin plus reality show star to sell fitness shoes. I guess it’s better than Joe Montana. Maybe.

65. Terra Nova: Lost meets Jurrasic Park meets Avatar. I may be watching.

66. E-Trade: The cat does not help. Is it just me, or does the E-Trade baby look even creepier this year?

67. Mars Needs Moms movie: Kid tries to save his mom from aliens.

68. Wendys: Co-workers slapping one another. Yeah, get me THAT sandwich. Or not.

That’s my opinion – what’s yours?

When I was younger, I “adopted” a manatee, the endangered species otherwise known as a sea cow. I don’t know why I loved these creatures so much, but I did. To this day, they fascinate me. I even had the pleasure of swimming with them, not once, but twice during the past two years. Similar to the manatee, the press release is threatened among its kind, yet it is a PR tool that I still care for.

With the rise of social media and real-time communication, it has been said that sending out a press release to generate news is a dying communications tool. In the B2B space, however, I still see the act of distributing a press release as a cost-efficient and effective method. Keep in mind, though, that the press release is changing and it must evolve to fit in with the web and social media outlets. Here is what you should be considering when sending out a press release: Read the rest of this entry »

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