Kathy Cunningham, founder of AM Strategies, plays Monday morning quarterback for the Super Bowl Commercial roundup on the morning news stations. Watch her live appearance HERE.
They cost upwards of 5 million dollars – so what makes a good Super Bowl commercial?
The number one requirement is entertainment. Your message must break through all the hype, noise, and expectations of a Super Bowl party. Grab attention before people tune out to grab another hot wing!
Hyundai and its “Elevator” spot hit the mark with an amusing tale about the things we dread almost as much as car shopping. It did a masterful job of creating discomfort and then provided us with a solution, their Shopper Assurance Program, a painless way to buy a car. It didn’t hurt that they employed the celebrity of Jason Bateman as the doomsday elevator operator.
What was different about commercials this year?
I noticed two themes; the first was the inclusion of all types of high-tech innovations being used by the folks in the ads that helped the advertiser show the benefits of each product.
- THE THEME OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology has reached a tipping point, and it is omnipresent in all our daily lives. Artificial Intelligence, robotics, voice recognition, face recognition, and texting were all highlighted this year. Ads like Pringles, T-Mobile, and Turbo Tax had us interacting with non-human devices.
However, my favorite was Oil of Olay’s face recognition spot. It actually had us believing the Sarah Michelle Gellar had such an improvement in her “killer skin” that her phone didn’t recognize her face – I’ll have some of that, please!
- THE THEME OF WOMEN
There was more than just a shirtless Adam Levine at halftime for the ladies this year, there were lots of strong female storylines and featured female characters – twice as many as last year according to AdAge. Toyota, Stella Artois, Yellowtail Wine, and Michelob Gold all featured strong female storylines.
My favorite female empowerment spot was Bumble, starring Serena Williams because it was created, produced, and directed by an all-female ad team. This product introduction spot did not exactly explain to us what the product is, a relationship site where women are in the driver’s seat, but it did pique our interest enough to go check out the website; which by the way offers friendship and business networking too, just the way women like it.
Stella Artois brought Sex In The City’s Sarah Jessica Parker back! And using that music perked up the ears of every woman in the room, then shocked them with her switch from her iconic cosmopolitan to a Stella! Continuing the switch was a cameo by Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” (who normally drinks white russians) and “The Most Interesting Man in the World!” (who of course drinks Dos Equis). Marketing beer to women, what a concept, I love beer!
Toyota RAV4 featured an emotional story about a female football player that not only inspired every little girl, but their mom and dad too.
Which commercials stood out as the best in your opinion?
I thought Amazon took the prize with its series of storytelling spots that taught us in order to succeed big; you have to fail along the way. Failure is real… and really funny! Good use of humor, dogs, celebrities, and another strong female lead.
Were there any surprises this year?
Bud light Game of Thrones
Beer ads have come a long way from the all-male frat house humor of the past. Bud Light’s Game of Throne’s ad had it all. Dilly-dilly humor, and an unexpected ending. Bud light did a remarkable job of wrapping their brand in a story, and not only in their commercial’s story but the story of Game of Thrones. The surprise ending was epic, brilliant and Super Bowl worthy!
Besides humor and celebrity, what else do the best commercials deliver?
Storytelling that evokes intense emotion is always the best way to build a brand with a heart, and that is extremely important to Verizon’s younger generation of customers. Their First Responders series features several NFL players that needed the assistance of first responders. This uniquely personal way of matching the brand story with the game and the players took it to a whole other level of effectiveness in advertising.
Giving your brand a heart that people can connect with stimulates the emotional part of the brain and combines it with intention, purchase, and fierce loyalty of a product — Verizon, the most reliable network, connecting people when it counts.
A couple of solid participation awards go to:
A Class Mercedes are trying to appeal to a younger target audience. Showing a millennial doing good for the world as we wish that everything listened to us like our A-Class entry-level Mercedes.
The Super Bowl is not always the right place for a product introduction, but Bublé Bubly’s play on words, use of humor and celebrity worked here because the brand name was part of the joke – so we’ll remember it!
The strategy here is to attract a new generation of beer drinkers by branding with a cause = “a better tomorrow.” But not alienating the older loyal generation by using the nostalgia of the Bob Dylan song.
Right off the bat – we know this commercial is for Budweiser because of the imagery – Clydesdales and the Dalmatian, but we get a surprise ending and find out that now Bud is brewed with wind power for a better tomorrow.
This ad was not without controversy, so that helps the chatter too – all PR is good.
Who missed the mark?
Avocados from Mexico
Dogs and food – yuck! Totally did not get this one!
BON & VIV Spiked Seltzer
What, What? Didn’t catch attention or promote ANY benefits. and the sharks? Meh!
This spot hangs it hat on the technique of ASMR, or “autonomous sensory meridian response.” It’s the goose bumps sensation you get when you hear certain sounds: Like a whisper, or soft sound effects of tapping, or the lighting of a match — or a soft voice – in this case, actress Zoe Kravitz whispering softly into a microphone, tapping her nails against the bottle, all to get us to buy some beer. This technique has a HUGE following with many videos online. Put on some headphones and you might get something out of it… but this technique falls flat in the noisy, party atmosphere of a Super Bowl party.
What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial? Chime in and let us know what you thought. We are always interested on hearing the voice of the consumer!