Last night I had dinner at my friend Brian Halligan's place. Brian is CEO of HubSpot and my co-author on our book Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.
Also at dinner was Joe Grimaldi, CEO of Mullen. We got to talking about my second most favorite Super Bowl ad of all time, which was created by Mullen Advertising: When I Grow Up (1999) for Monster.com.
This commercial tells a powerful story. It doesn't talk about the product directly. Yet there is no mistaking what the benefits of the product are even though they are not spoken. The spot uses humor but in a powerful way. It is memorable.
Ever since I first saw the ad in 1999, keep coming back to it as a model of what a good Super Bowl ad can be.
Others agree because "When I Grow Up" makes most “top” lists such as the number 18 spot on this 100 Greatest Super Bowl Ads Ever list.
Another sign of respect is that the ad has had dozens of parodies made of it. This one When I Grow Up I Wanna Work in Advertising is particularly good.
Don't talk about the product.
Okay, so what's my number one most favorite Super Bowl Ad? It’s Tabasco Mosquito from 1998. I spat up my beer when I saw it live. And I've watched it on YouTube dozens of times. It just works in all the ways that the Monster.com ad does. And it uses humor with no words spoken at all.
Ads like these get talked about.
The ongoing PR value, even a decade later, makes producing them worthwhile. I'm generally not a fan of big-budget ads, but with work like these, I make exceptions.