While I’m sure most of America caught the Super Bowl game last night, and its exciting ending, most of the media is still buzzing over the Super Bowl commercials. What did you think of this year’s super bowl ads?
I always enjoy watching the ads more than the football (unless it’s the Colts playing in the super bowl), and that’s because my background is in advertising, of course. I find it interesting to see which brands choose to place ads during the super bowl, and what their messages say about them. I discovered some categories of ads that sually appear during the super bowl, and the strategies that these ads usually take:
Beverages: Let’s face it: Beer and football just go together. Budweiser knows its audience. Whether it’s the cute and sappy “Best Buds” commercial about the lost puppy and his equestrian friend (probably appealing more to a female audience here), or the better (in my opinion) knock on craft beers ad “Brewed the Hard Way”, which may be geared more toward males. Budweiser never disappoints with its ads, and thus usually makes everyone’s best ad list every year. In the beverage category, Coca Cola always entertains with some sort of “happy” theme, as in this year’s “Make it Happy” ad. I thought their ad was more compelling this year, and was a nice, feel-good message for the world to be kind and happy (also, don’t forget to drink Coca-cola so you can be even happier). Mountain Dew usually advertises too, but I must have missed their ad.
- Movies and TV: NBC uses the Super Bowl advertising slots to beef up its advertising for all of its weekly dramas and comedies. I noticed that a lot of upcoming movies also advertise big trailers during the Super Bowl. None of them really stood out to me (and I love movies), other than than I recognized the Terminator, Fifty Shades of Grey, and the Minions and Spongebob movies. For more about the movies featured in this year’s super bowl, click here to read Business Insider’s take.
- Cars: Everyone needs a car. So it makes sense that to reach a mass audience, car manufacturers would look to one of the largest television audiences of the year to advertise its brands. This year, there was Jeep Renegade’s “Beautiful Lands” commercial (which I didn’t care for); the shocking Chevy Colorado super bowl ad, where some viewers thought for a second that their TV feeds went out, and the funny Fiat “Blue Pill”, which left everyone hanging until the end (but I knew it was a car commercial). There were other car ads, like the Mercedes-Benz Tortoise and the Hare ad — also cute. Each of these car manufacturers take a different spin on the ad to get audiences to understand its brand personality and main selling benefits.
- Food: McDonald’s with its new “Pay with Lovin” campaign was a nice touch, and extension of their tagline “Lovin’ it.” How much do you want to bet that people will show up at McDonald’s over the next few weeks, just to get their meals for free? This also puts the McDonald’s brand in a great position with consumers, while evoking a strong emotion. Doritos, Skittles and Snickers round out the junk food category, with the Snickers “Brady Bunch” ad, the Skittles “Settle it” ad and the Doritos “When Pigs Fly” ad all using humor in their ads. While these were definite audience-winners, I’m not sure they do as good of a job as the beverage categories do of really getting to the heart of what their brand represents and why people like their brand. It’s hard to be funny and get that across at the same time. Perhaps humor is not a good way to do that! I just expected a little more.
- Insurance: While the “Make Safe Happen” Nationwide super bowl ad was quite provocative, and many expressed their distaste of the ad, I didn’t have a problem with it. While it does go over the top with its scare tactic, I think the intention was for people to begin to think about protecting their families with insurance. They could have taken a different approach, such as using statistics about accidents or showing a story about a family devastated by their child’s loss, rather than a real boy talking about all of the life experiences he won’t get to have since he died. However, who’s talking about Nationwide now? They got their exposure! The Brian Cranston Esurance ad was the opposite tact as a humorous ad, but may be lost on some fans who didn’t watch his show.
It’s no wonder that beer, movies, cars and food and insurance continue to be popular super bowl ads year after year. Which ad was my favorite? I think I’d have to say “Brewed the Hard Way.” It made me laugh out loud because craft beer has been trending for the last few years. It’s a direct knock at their competitor, while doing it in a way that just amps up their brand even more. Why would you want to buy craft beer when you can have Budweiser? It’s the anti-bandwagon approach, yet it hints at their longevity as a brand, and at their success through the years. Well done, Budweiser.