Funeral Service Crashes the Super Bowl

There is a dual hype that happens every year leading up to the Super Bowl. The long football season is building toward its climax. Super Bowl parties bring families and friends together to celebrate and watch what hopefully will turn out to be one of the best games of the season. Then there is the hype for the other half — the people who don’t really care about the game, the “I just watch the game for the commercials” crowd. I guess it is safe to say that the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of advertising. 
It seems that funeral service came very close to having an ad during this year’s Super Bowl. Well not really. But an ad for Doritos tortilla chips was at least set at a funeral. The ad takes place in a church. A man’s dying wish is to be put in an oversized casket filled with Doritos. The camera pans from a photo of the man on a memory board, in happier times, smiling and holding a bag of chips. The next shot is inside the casket where the man isn’t dead at all. He is alive, covered in chips and watching a football game on a TV that is rigged inside the casket. 
Meanwhile, his buddies who helped him pull off this caper are saying the plan is genius. The deceased scores free Doritos and, since he is “dead,” he will get out of work for at least a week. Then, a stunning turn of events. It seems that the game the dead man is watching inside the casket is so exciting, it causes the casket to fall off of the bier. It opens up and the man and his chips roll onto the church floor. Thinking fast his buddy gets up, and proclaims that it’s a miracle. 
Strange, but why was the guy in the casket the only one entitled to watch the game while his mourning friends sat quietly in church? And what prevented him from watching the game anywhere else with his beloved Doritos? Also, it seems that the TV the guy was watching in the casket was nowhere to be found when the casket opened up (but it is seen again next to him after he stops rolling). Also, am I the only one who received the subliminal message that too many salty snacks will put you in a casket way too soon? Details.
OK, I am thinking about this commercial way too deeply. After all, it is only a 30-second commercial and they didn’t need to verify the logistics. But it did cost in the upwards of $3 million to get the commercial on the air. On the positive side, I suppose one can take away the message that yes, the concept of a personalized funeral was the central theme in this little piece of mainstream pop culture, which may reflect more of the public’s awareness to tailor a tribute to the individual. Granted, the point of this commercial was to entertain and, hopefully, to sell Doritos. It was not meant to be scrutinized. But since this issue does have the predominant theme of marketing, the details of a serious marketing campaign should never be glossed over.
Who is the target audience? What is the message? What is the call to action? What is the vehicle that will deliver this message? What are the anticipated results? These are some of the basic steps and questions to ask yourself when contemplating and developing any marketing campaign. And just before you think you are ready to proceed, test your campaign with a sample audience. Testing will stop you from throwing good money after bad. Advertising and marketing are too expensive just to throw ideas at the wall and hope that something sticks. Like a player preparing for the Super Bowl, every advertising campaign needs to be representative of your best work. And like the Super Bowl ads, you have a short time to make the connection and to make your message register with those you want to attract.
Ed Defort
Editor, Memorial Business Journal