Last year, SalesGenie.com was selected by just about everyone with a heartbeat for having the least creative, cheesiest Super Bowl in like, forever. For your review:

Yipes. That ad barely belonged on television, let alone the Super Bowl. But SalesGenie wasn’t in it for the branding, they were in it to drive their own sales, and they exceeded all their goals for the ad.

All of a sudden, SalesGenie looks like the smartest guy in the room. Is cheesy irresponsible? I don’t think so, especially when you have a cheesy brand.

On the heels of last year’s success, SalesGenie was at it again and this year they upped the ante. Two Super Bowl ads: both animated, both working a multicultural marketing angle. Sounds promising. Check ’em out:

Ummmm….okay. The multicultural angle has backfired, big time. Traditional media and the blogosphere are abuzz and the word ‘racist’ has popped up more than once.

Time gave the ad an “F” grade and said:

Salesgenie.com wants to give you 100 free sales leads — and all you have to do in return is subject yourself to some mild racial stereotyping! A put-upon sales rep named “Ramesh,” with seven kids and the thickest Indian accent this side of the Kwik-E-Mart, is saved from certain termination by the leads. Maybe it’s actually a subtle political commentary on outsourcing.

Somehow, SalesGenie found a way to make last year’s ads look pretty good. What do you think?

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • I won’t dignify any SalesGenie ads by classifying one as “better” than the other. The company keeps finding new ways to be lame. They may have exceeded all their goals, but the people who respond to SalesGenie ads are probably the same people who respond to spam and ads in the back of the National Enquirer. In the past, the networks carrying the Super Bowl have refused certain ads in the name of “standards” (which GoDaddy.com milked to their advantage). It’s a shame the networks lowered their bar for SalesGenie, whose “success” threatens to turn advertising’s biggest showcase into more tired dreck. What’s next, “Girls Gone Wild” promos at halftime? “As Seen On TV” devices that slice, splice and spice your veggies? Timeshare resort spiels? In other words, I don’t blame SalesGenie entirely; I blame the networks for allowing anyone with $3 million to air their inner idiot to an audience with high expectations.

  • Maren Hogan says:

    What? The point of a commercial is to sell. SELL! And this happened. Not sure why the fact that he has 7 kids and is Indian is even remotely relevant. Should he be Hispanic with two kids or black with no kids or white with foster kids? Seriously???? As a recruiter, I meet and interact with a lot of Eastern Indians who program, sell, write, architect, parent, whatever.

    In “Your Marketing Sucks” Mark Stevens tells you to fire ad agencies with a Clio. This is why. Because advertising, which was originally designed to drive sales is now becoming something which we showcase. Puh-lease!

    BTW, InfoUSA, Mr. Gupta’s empire is based here in Omaha and it was his utmost desire to get this much play. Lame? Yes! Genius? Yes! Plus, the commercials were animated, even CHEAPER. Yes! ROI reigns!

  • Hello Maren,

    Thanks for the counterpoint. That’s the goal of The Responsible Marketing Blog – to generate discussion about a topic that’s ripe with contradictions.

    ROI responsibility is one of the cornerstones of Responsible Marketing and you are spot on – I’ll bet these ads deliver the goods for SalesGenie. As of last night, one ad had 125k downloads, the other had nearly 250k. They were receiving one star out of five, but they are being viewed. Not sure if that qualifies for going viral, but not too shabby nonetheless.

    Your point about Eastern Indians is well taken. This could have been anybody. But do a search on these ads then read the comments in traditional media and in blogs. People of all races are pissed. I’ve seen references to “Amos N’ Andy” more than once…not good. “Any publicity is good publicity,” isn’t always true.

    I believe these ads had the potential to be a stellar example of Responsible Marketing… if only they were culturally sensitive. They weren’t.

    Sit down with someone of Chinese or Indian descent, have them watch these ads, then ask them what they think. Do you think it makes them proud? Do you think it makes them want to buy? I doubt it. And I bet you’d squirm in your chair if you watched them with them.

    As far as ROI, I thought the animation was quite good on the new ads. But the production values of the old ad were terrible. I’d bet this year’s advertising creative cost more.

    ROI is important, but SalesGenie commits a cardinal sin in marketing: “respect all your audiences.”

    I look forward to your continued comments. Everyone benefits from great conversations like these.

    Thanks!

  • Just read an interesting summary of opinion regarding the SalesGenie ads from Ben Silverman, the Director of Research for InsiderScore, an investment intelligence service:

    The Super Bowl Advertising Review Panel at The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University rated the company’s commercials “worst,” with panel members saying the spots were “offensive to some,” and lacked a clear description of the site.

    Jay Posner of The San Diego Union-Tribune said it is “hard to remember a more offensive commercial” than one of the company’s ads. Meanwhile, James P. Othmer of Portfolio said, “[Any commercial] would seem like a classic if it followed either of Salesgenie.com’s C.E.O.-created train wrecks which somehow managed to be visually, aurally, and racially offensive.”

    Salesgenie.com actually hyped its lousy ads with a press release ahead of
    the game noting that its commercials were roundly considered the worst of those that aired during the 2007 Super Bowl.

    I guess aiming low is easier than aiming high. While the ads may attract visitors to the company’s website, Salesgenie.com isn’t helping its image.

  • I agree with you, Patrick, that those ads are not helping SalesGenie’s image — indeed, they’re downright detrimental. This brings up a point about advertising: sales are not the only objective. There’s also the matter of brand building and cultivating public relations. There are millions of cheesy, even offensive tactics to get people to respond to an ad — that’s how spammers and con artists make their money. Those tactics might generate returns in the short run, but in the long run, they undermine your company to the point where you’ll not only have trouble attracting customers, you’ll also struggle to attract talented professionals to work for you. How many truly talented, self-respecting Asians and Indians would want to work for SalesGenie today? I’ve heard of people willing to take a pay cut to work for Google or Apple, companies with great brands; in the highly competitive Silicon Valley job market, SalesGenie just forced itself to pay higher salaries to attract top professionals. A single-minded obsession with the bottom line (“the ends justify the means,” and “ROI is all that matters”) is the very antithesis of responsible marketing. Indeed, in the long run, it’s not even good marketing.

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