Each year, 100+ million people watch the Super Bowl around the world. We know that’s not just because of what’s happening on the field. More than a quarter of viewers tune in for the commercials only, and we in the advertising industry certainly fall into this bucket.
This year’s Super Bowl ads were quite different than last year. Politics and sympathy were traded for entertainment and humor. “There’s so much entertainment being promoted that it’s kind of thrown down a challenge to the ad industry,” says Ed Cotton, Chief Strategy Officer with Partner BSSP.
This challenge lead to some brilliant and hilarious collaborations between brands, products and celebrities. It also resulted in some commercials that were, at best, duds and at worst, offensive.
To get the real scoop on the winners and losers during the Super Bowl, we asked our agency partners to weigh in on the best and worst ads during the big game.
Tide Ad Series with David Harbour
Ed Cotton, Chief Strategy Officer, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners
Ram Trucks – Dr. Martin Luther King
“Martin Luther King is probably a little too far. It maybe is some kind of sacred ground.” Source: http://variety.com/2018/tv/news/2018-super-bowl-commercial-no-politics-1202687096/
Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice
“The rap battle brings sheer visual and audio joy to the viewer/listener. You can’t look away if you watched these spots.”
NFL – Dirty Dancing Spoof
“Watching Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. doing a performance of Dirty Dancing was great, absurd fun that plays on the fun you’ll have enjoying the NFL.”
Scott Scaggs, Chief Creative Office, Clean
Raleigh, North Carolina
Jeep Wrangler – Anti-Manifesto
“Aside from the big hits like Alexa, Australia Tourism, and of course Tide, there was a simple product demo ad that deserves some love. The music free, single shot Jeep spot appearing late in the fourth quarter was a top five pick for me. This spot captured the thrill of Jeep Wrangler’s badassery with captivating simplicity. And just when you think the feat was all about crossing the rocky stream, the thing climbs the waterfall. Brilliant.”
Scott Conway, Creative Director, MeringCarson
Squarespace – Make It With Keanu Reeves
“Keanu Reeves has established himself as pretty much a wierdo. Now they’ve got him standing on a motorcycle, riding it ‘Point Break’ style, his majestic hair blowing in the wind.” “[It’s still relevant enough to resonant because] this bumps you to a two and half minute content piece, where he’s out in the dessert, he’s building a website, seemingly on LSD. If you get a chance, I definitely recommend checking it out.”
Universal Orlando with Peyton Manning
“You’re putting Peyton Manning into a situation where he’s a vacation coach for a family in a place like Universal Studios where, why do you need a coach? You’re supposed to have fun there anyway. It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. It felt a lot like his last year in Denver, where it’s kinda doing some damage to his legacy.”
Paul Bowen, Group Creative Director, Ardmore Advertising
Belfast, Northern Ireland
In an industry where consideration for one single platform is advertising suicide there’s a comforting nostalgia to Super Bowl Sunday. Yes there was the occasional hashtag and I even spotted a url but essentially it was a good old fashioned, all eyes on me, visual smorgasbord of advertainment.
For that’s what it was – entertainment, nothing deep, nothing too challenging and only Budweiser really offered some goodwill. Was this a knee jerk to the mixed reactions of 2017’s high morales and social commentary or just a realisation from the FD’s that if we are really going to pay $5m plus for a spot we can’t afford any wastage? I suspect a little from column A and a little from column B.
The spots that featured were funny, charming and occasionally uplifting, Adoreboard used ‘Emotics’ to measure the best emotional reaction and 4 of the top 5 spots claimed their honours because of ‘high levels of joy’. I sound sour at this I know and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at the somewhat lazy formula trotted out of celebrities being funny, but that I can live with if there was a little more craft in the delivery, and yes a little more creativity.
Dwindling numbers this year, 103m vs 110m last year, but it is still the most anticipated commercial break in the world and whilst I’m still in awe of the flat-screen worship this event warrants I do wonder if the industry is best represented by this safety in numbers approach. After all, these commercials don’t just sell their own wares, they sell ours.
John Harris, President & CEO, Worldwide Partners
NBC Olympics: The Best of U.S.
“Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but hats off to NBC for maximizing the audience of sports fans to promote their forthcoming Winter Olympic broadcast. Celebrities, music, powerful storytelling, great production and a small does of patriotism, set these spots apart for me. And Shaun White as Iron Man? I’m in.”
See all the Best of US spots here.
We’re still talking about these ads a few days after the big game, but how long is their lasting power really? According to The Drum, less than 10% of viewers could remember an ad two weeks after the Super Bowl. That’s leads us to ask, Are Super Bowl ads truly a good investment for brands?
Norty Cohen, CEO of Moosylvania in St. Louis, Missouri, says no. In a recent article on Branding Strategy Insider he states, “It makes sense to build a platform that can be articulated all year long. Why release a game or a contest during the Super Bowl? Why shout in a crowd?”
“In our latest research fielded in January of this year, we are seeing more two-way connectivity with brands who work at it all year,” says Cohen. “To really make an impact, marketers need to circle back to what and who matters. All of this is about them [the customers] – it is not about the marketer.” Norty recommends taking advantage of all 365 days of the year to connect with customers and drive personal recommendations.
The Drum sums up how brands fared during the Super Bowl with data and insights collected during the event.
Do you think Super Bowl ads are a good investment for brands? And before you forget about them in a week, what were your picks for best and worst Super Bowl ads? Share you thoughts on our Facebook page.