As the saying goes, “…the Super Bowl is like the Super Bowl for advertising.” See what I did there? With an all-in expense nearing $8 Million for the buy and production on a :30, it’s also a very high stakes game. Every year we see recurring themes in the executions. Some for the better. Some for the worse. Here are a few of this year’s winners and losers.
Winner: Borrowed Equity from Films
Jeep’s brilliant play on the movie Groundhog Day arguably won the night. Bill Murray’s portrayal of his character from the film continuing to wake up to the monotony of living the same day over and over again is disrupted by the arrival of the brand’s new truck. The result is a hacked storyline that lives alongside the original film as a genuine part of the story.
Walmart united an astounding array of space movie characters. Mountain Dew recast Brian Cranston in the Shining which worked well. Squarespace had some sort of vague reference to Fargo with Wynona Rider. Even Discover used quick film and tv clips to good effect.
David Ogilvy once said, “If you have nothing to say, sing it.” This year dance numbers were a dead giveaway of brands who had little to say. Pepsi, Turbotax, and Doritos all dedicated their gameday buys to choreographed depictions of how (happy?) the product makes us feel. Not every product lends itself to a demonstration, but even a limited storytelling effort would be something compared to a dance-off. Seems like a throw-away.
Winner: Visual Spectacle
Surreal storytelling with surprising visual twists is the type of work we look forward to seeing on the Super Bowl. From Bud Light Seltzer’s pair of trips inside Post Malone’s head, to Jason Mamoa unpeeling his muscles for Rocket Mortgage, effects-driven humor made a strong showing.
Loser: Saving the World
Corporate responsibility has become an important part of marketing brands. But Super Bowl ads continue to be an odd place to do it. Buy Michelob Ultra and give to organic farmers. Olay tried to tie a story of female astronauts to coding education in a spot that couldn’t seem to make up its mind what it wanted to say. While effective to some extent, viewers are aware of the price tags on these ads and likely wonder why brands just don’t put that money toward the charitable efforts themselves.
There are many other trends and many ads not mentioned here that will get the praise or criticism they deserve. But overall, the state of television advertising in the big game is on the upswing after several years of weaker showings.
About the Author: Paul Prato is a Group Creative Director at PPK. Paul has helmed campaigns for Visit Tampa Bay, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Bright House Networks, PDQ, Metropolitan Ministries and Pinch-A- Penny Pool Supply, among others. He believes in producing great work by any means necessary and brings that philosophy to each account he touches.