Oops, we did it again. We wrote another blog post about the Super Bowl commercials. But we're marketers and we can't help ourselves.
There were a lot of emotions leading up to the big game this year from both teams, from Deflate Gate to whether or not Richard Sherman would play with a baby on the way. After last year's snoozefest of a game, this game was filled with excitement and definitely emotional. The commercials fit the emotional theme as well. In true Budweiser fashion, they tugged on our heart strings with the Lost Dog and no one in the room had a dry eye. Coca-Cola spread a positive message on TV and social media with their #MakeItHappy, as did McDonald's with their "Pay with Lovin" campaign.
Now, I may be a bit biased but Super Bowl, pooper bowl, let’s face it – the real attraction are the commercials that brands pay ungodly amounts of money on to be seen by over 100 million people.
But before we get to the opinions, can I just give a shout out to Ms. Katy Perry. She’s really the perfect choice for the Super Bowl – a slick, tight, pop-culturally relevant singer that is wholesome enough for Middle America, with just enough sex appeal to take her to the streets with a certain amount credibility. It was a visual performance as a necessity, as dictated by a stadium that holds 72,000, that didn’t bore. However, sorry, Lenny Kravitz, your role seemed like a forced cameo and a mediocre grab at relevancy. But a big HAAAAAAY to Missy Elliot who may have stolen the show right out from Katy’s perfectly shaped nose. - Michael Zydzik.
Now, on with the critique. Here’s what some Fusionites has to say about Sunday’s commercials:
The Fiat 500X Blue Pill
Aspirational middle age humor hit the real target audience – upper middle class boomers with money. Millennials (and younger) in the twitterverse are claiming it’s creepy, but every over thirty-something I talked to thought it [Fiat's commercial] was hilarious and memorable. - Regina Gilloon-Meyer
Lost Puppy & #LikeAGirl
Those who know me will guess that Budweiser’s “Lost Puppy” ad was definitely my favorite. A puppy, horses protecting the puppy and a happy reunion ending. What’s not to love? Equally predictable, I loved the Always #LikeaGirl spot. While it is unusual to see a feminine product ad during the Super Bowl, they were spot on with their messaging. When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult and how do we change that? There were plenty of women, young girls and their Dads watching the game yesterday and remembering this message today. Good job Always.
It seemed like the majority of my favorites aired during the second half. It’s a good thing the game was not a blow out and had us on the edge of seats, paying close attention until the final minutes. A gamble for the advertisers but when it all comes together like it did last night, football and marketing’s biggest night is a beautiful thing. - Kelly Homewood
I must admit I'm a sucker for a funny commercial. I was looking forward to seeing a lot of humor this Super Bowl, the more off-color the better. But the commercial I ended up falling in love with was the "Like A Girl" spot from Always. The premise was an off-camera voice asking a variety of people to do things "like a girl." They asked an adult male, adult female and young boy to run like a girl and throw like a girl, and they all did silly displays of running and throwing, laughingly. Then they asked young girls to throw and run like a girl and the young girls tried their hardest and looked fierce doing so. What a shame the phrase, "like a girl," has such a negative connotation to all who are not girls. Even the grown woman had made it into a joke. When did society decide being a girl meant being weak and silly? The idea this evoked actually brought a tear to my eye. I have a young daughter and I would never want her to think that other people don't believe in her abilities. The fact this spot was created by a feminine hygiene product is perfect. This is a product that nobody really wants to talk about or even acknowledge, however it took a product used exclusively by women to draw attention to this fact. The empowering of young women and the idea they can do anything shouldn't be a novel idea. - Amanda Morgan
I use a number of factors when judging a Super Bowl commercial. The most important factor is "does the ad speak to the brand’s ideal customer?" If it does, I use a mix of other factors such as humor, storytelling and star power to identify my favorite ad. Based on this criteria, one of my favorite ads this year was for the Kia Sorento. The ad cleverly juxtaposed the audience it is not trying to capture with the audience it is trying to capture. Deadly snipers versus peaceful owls; military tanks versus innocent moose; exploding cabins versus romantic weekend getaways in the woods. These juxtaposing scenes were unexpected, clever and funny and created a compelling and seamless story in less than a minute. The commercial also leveraged the star power of Pierce Brosnan giving it a perfect score based on the aforementioned criteria. - Joe Matar
One thing I noticed during all the Super Bowl commercials were hashtags. So many hashtags. So many hashtags that no one is actually going to use. For example: #ThisBudsForYou, #RealStrength, #FirstDraftEver, #500X, #WinAtGlue just to name a few. This made me wonder how effective some of these hashtags were. Do brands expect people to just start using these hashtags? What is the lifecycle of these hashtags? Does it go anywhere beyond the ads?
Two hashtags that stood out from the rest were Coca Cola’s #MakeItHappy and Always’ #LikeAGirl. These hashtags had something that none of the other brands offered – a genuine message. These hashtags aren’t about Coca Cola or Always. These hashtags are means to spread a powerful message that is beyond the advertised product. #LikeAGirl had a powerful message about replacing the negative gender stereotype and Coca Cola’s #MakeItHappy had a message about replacing all the negativity so prevalent on the internet these days. Coca Cola also delivered on its promise by turning negative tweets to ‘happy’ text art when you tagged the negative tweet with #MakeItHappy. Among all the overwhelming number of brand related hashtags, Coca Cola and Always won the hashtag war with their positive message. - Pranav Shrestha
Walter White for the Win
There were a lot of emotional commercials this year from Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy, Budweiser’s “Lost Puppy,” Nissan’s “With Dad” and Microsoft’s “Braylon.” And I can't forget to mention, the emotions I was feeling when Missy Elliot stole the halftime performance. But my favorite commercial that aired was the Esurance’s “Sorta Pharmacist” for 3 reasons.
- The Breaking Bad references were done in a hilarious yet subtle way.
- From a consumer perspective, it was relatable. There is nothing more frustrating than a product or solution that has limited customization to fit your needs.
- From a marketer’s perspective, this was a smart way for Esurance to differentiate their product from competitors without explicitly calling them out.
Plus, at Fusionfarm, we talk to businesses about targeting the right customer with the right message, not a group that is “sorta your audience.” Targeting the “sorta Gregs” instead of the “Gregs” can be a costly mistake for your business. And that comparison makes it a great ad from a marketers perspective. - Stacey Stefani
BMW's i3 commercial may not have had the flashiest production or the biggest celebrities, but it did make you think. Opening with footage of Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel from 1994 created an immediate connection with the baby boomer audience who would be the target market for this product. Choosing to feature popular talk show hosts also creates a feeling of familiarity and relatability that would help BMW to promote their message. This relatability also goes a step further as both hosts are confused by the idea of email and the @ sign, which many individuals of this generation may have experienced themselves.
From my perspective, having grown up with the internet and email, the opening sequence was amusing, but once the ad made the connection to the new technology in the BMW i3 it really got me thinking. Although I may not be the target market for this particular car, the commercial still resonated with me as I thought back to how quickly technology can change and how quickly we adapt to these changes. It makes me wonder what crazy new idea will become a way of life 20 years from now? - Alicia Anderson