When your boat is sinking, hire a celebrity for a Super Bowl spot

So now the news is out that Amy Poehler will do a Super Bowl spot for Best Buy.

Poehler, seen above and strangely without Tina Fey, is described as having the kind of frank humor that will get people queuing up for Best Buy's electronic goods.

According to online and global e-commerce President Scott Durchslag:

"Because of the complexity of technology today, folks have lots of questions. Amy is this comedic everyperson who can make things simple. And Best Buy is trying to accomplish the same thing — making technology simple."

What you will actually accomplish, dear sir, is a loss of 4 million bucks per thirty seconds of air time on the Super Bowl, plus production costs, plus Amy Poehler's fee, to create a great vehicle for Amy Poehler.

Come Monday morning after the Bowl, people will be saying "Did you see that ad with Amy Poehler, she's so funny. Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler. Amy Poehler. " They will not be saying "Wow Best Buy has given me a relevant yet entertaining reason to shop at their store, thereby helping a struggling chain that hasn't done much except halt its sales decline."

Seriously, isn't it a written law that Amy Poehler has to appear with Tina Fey whenever their photos are taken, regardless of the context? I thought that was a national law or something. How was the above photo even taken?

If you are new to this business, just out of portfolio school, fresh eyed and full of idealism, you may have heard the term "borrowed interest." You may even feel disdain for the trend. "Borrowed interest," is generally synonymous with "gratuitous celebrity usage." Because the usage generally is gratuitous if not wholly irrelevant.

And while some ass hat can pipe in and say "it is the creative person's responsibility to use pop culture in an effort to effectively communicate, so celebrity usage is always appreciated" I will answer back "horse pucky." Aside from the aforementioned irrelevancy, celebrity usage is usually lazy, and the choices (event he ironic ones) are almost always uninspired.

Coming up with a big idea first is still crucial. I would argue even more so during the Super Bowl although we've been seeing less and less big idea spots every year. Regardless, using a celebrity to communicate that big idea should be secondary. The idea should not hinge upon said celebrity. But this thinking almost never happens.

You know what does happen? Let me demonstrate:

Creative team (presenting work to their CD): "So we have this idea for Best Buy based on this strategic insight that has led to some unique thinking. In fact we're fairly certain this idea hasn't been done before, at least not in this way."

Creative Director (who hasn't been listening because he's been playing on his ipad, interrupts): "Hey, let's get Amy Poehler do do it. She's funny."

Sorry. That's not really being fair. I'm sure they probably mentioned Kristen Wiig, Amy Sedaris, and twenty other names before they found the most accessible and cheapest one and then acted like it was their first choice. (Oh, and add to that list Tina Fey, too. Sorry.)

Protip: If your "idea" is "Let's get Amy Poehler," it's not an idea. It's an execution. And most likely a poor one, no matter how funny you think she might be.

Best Buy has a lot of competition from online retailers. It could easily go the way of Borders Books as sites like Amazon continue their dominance. So far, Best Buy's only sensible move has been to invest in employee training. Because seriously have you ever walked into a Best Buy and gotten any real help from one of those Blue Shirted jack nuts? I sure as hell haven't. Unless upselling is now counted as "expert advice."

Again, let me underline the lunacy here of using a celebrity for Best Buy during The Super Bowl. In the past few days Adland has posted news about Psy for Pistachios, Kaley Cuoco for Toyota, and Kate Upton for Mercedes.

You can argue that, oh, it's the Super Bowl so it has to be big. But if this is big, then I suggest we change our definition. Because what you see as big advertising, I see as formulaic advertising.

This is how most of the Super Bowl Ads will go this year: Celebrity funny, Celebrity big budget, Celebrity something explodes, Celebrity, drive to website to see more, Celebrity serious. And don't forget the unfunny button at the end.

Let's go back to the fact that Best Buy has been struggling in recent years with the advent of online retailers and other competition. One would assume in the face of such competition it might be a good idea to not keep repeating yourself and try a new approach. But Best Buy used Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber in 2011's Super Bowl, and now we're back to Amy Poehler. And while admittedly, I'm guessing Poehler is a financial step down from The Beebs and Ozzman and Sharon I do have to ask, did the 2011 All Star Studded Spot help Best Buy's sales?


Then enjoy the sinking ship while it still floats, Best Buy.

Remember: women and children first. You can explain to them how to work their life vests. It should be easy.

And Tina Fey-- please don't sue us for mentioning Amy Poehler as if she had her own personality.

AnonymousCoward's picture
Dabitch's picture

You forgot Celebrity Kick-in-the-balls. Dog Explosion.

But yes, I agree, there's too much money wasted on borrowed interest that in the end doesn't even rub off on the brand.