So last night was the showpiece final of the NFL season, the Superbowl. With an audience of over 100 million, ad spots in the Superbowl come in at a pricey average $3 million! These rightful centrepieces of any campaign have become an institution in themselves, and millions of Americans look forward to the ads as much as the football! So the audience is also attentive – and increasingly, online simultaneously. The Superbowl this year generated 13.7M tweets! Get the creative right, and tens or hundreds of thousands of tweets will be sending your positive buzz through the roof, get it wrong and you damage your brand in a major way, or get it somewhere in the middle and you’ve wasted $3 million. No pressure then, let’s get into the creative!
Best Ads By Quarter – First Quarter
Strong showing from Best Buy and M&Ms. Best Buy, forgetting their ongoing customer service issues and lack of synergy in their on and offline businesses, created an ad which is not only interesting, seeing the inventors behind some of the most popular technology currently, it aligns their brand with such innovation and technological excellence with a compelling product truth. Whether the ‘rub off’ on the brand worked, sales will decide.
The M&M spot was just good old fashioned FMCG advertising, good use of humour, strong characterisations, and simple premise.
Notable mentions for Pepsi and Audi.
I loved the Dorito’s ad, and in second place I had Budweiser. The Bud ‘Prohibition’ execution underscored a brand attribute that is like gold dust in current times of uncertainty and mistrust – heritage and reliability. Any brand that can legitimately lay claim to having been around a long time, unwaveringly enriching consumers’ lives, should be all over that right now.
But I have to give it to Chevrolet for their second spot ‘Happy Graduation’, purely because this ad uses humour so effectively, and makes the product look a million dollars. It positions Chevy Camaro ownership as an aspirational goal and I can really see it doing well virally. Just great advertising up and down.
Traditionally the home of the really big spots! Last year Chrysler ‘Eminem’ execution was the ad of the superbowl for me, and I have to say again with the same positioning they have done it again, this time with Clint Eastwood in ‘Half Time America’. It just about stays the right side of the line, atmospheric, uplifting, connecting the brand with patriotism yet not overstepping the brand permission line. It’s the perfect example of ‘vanity spot’ creative, this ad only works in Superbowl halftime, and is 100% relevant to the ad spot which it occupies. no doubt this will help further fuel Chrysler’s resurgence. This is an example of truly heavyweight advertising.
I really liked how Budweiser continued their American Heritage theme and blended classic Americana with a modern execution and stayed true to their ‘good times’ positioning and so I hand it to them, also because that heritage play I mentioned earlier is so strong right now. Fiat 500 also had an amazing ad with a car which was represented by a beautiful Italian woman, with the strap line ‘you never forget the first time you see it’ , and I rated Bridgestone ‘Performance Basketball’ highly, because it communicated a product truth (low road noise tyres) so powerfully. The whole execution was centred on product benefit which I liked. It just lacked that sizzle or cut-through device to beat Budweiser.
My winner of the 4th quarter owes as much to their competition as their ad agency. With Apple preferring not to advertise during this year’s Superbowl, (no doubt they will believe themselves above advertising at all in a few years) the door was left wide open for Samsung, and they burst through it. A great execution ‘Galaxy Note’ which highlights product benefits like video calling and location services, whilst positioning Samsung as an accessible, young, fun, brand of the people and Apple in contrast, as a dull, geeky, arrogant corporation. I absolutely love this commercial. Notable mention for Honda with their Ferris Bueller execution, really enjoyed that ad as well and positioned the brand as grown up, yet fun and energetic!
So, all in all it wasn’t the best year for ads to be honest, but there were some real gems in there! My standouts were Chrysler ‘Half Time’, Samsung, Budweiser, Chevrolet ‘Happy Graduation’ and Best Buy. I must give special mention to Budweiser because as a body of work their ads were consistent and quite powerful. You can watch all the ads here and decide for yourself though!