My mom understands that I “make advertising” for a living but she’s never really that interested … except one day a year.
So dear Mom, here are some thoughts and themes on ads in The Big Game 2013:
Doritos changed everything 5 years ago.
The first Crash the Super Bowl set in motion two patterns we still see today. Before Crash a Super Bowl ad had to be really really good – funny or epic or emotional – and beautifully executed. Now the YouTube funny babies and crotch-crash humor of consumer-generated ads prevail. The jokes have gone populist. Second, you can’t just come to the game with a spot. Crash the Super Bowl set the standard for expecting a before/during/after for a multi-million dollar investment, and that consumer participation has to be incentivized. No one’s going to tweet your hashtag unless it adds value to their lives in some way.
Keep it simple
I liked Coke’s Mirage ad because unlike Pepsi who tries to attach itself to existing pop culture and celebrities, Coke consistently behaves in a more iconic way and creates its own culture. They making Polar Bears, and now Showgirls, Cowboys, and Badlanders part of its brand experience (and cool). I disliked Coke’s efforts this year because the participation elements were so complicated compared to the simple seamless experience of watching two polar bears watch the game last year. Go to the website and sabotage the Cowboys! The Showgirls! The Badlanders! Check out the Tumblr blog! Follow DocPemberton on Twitter! Without a key platform for a focal point, it felt like a lot of work.
A family affair.
While so many of the ads during the game feel like they’re targeting the man-cave, there are as many that reflect the rising female audience (in 2012 women made up 46% of the viewing audience). Toyota featured a hot blonde for their ad for the new Rav4, but she was a fully clothed smart/funny Kaley Cuoco, who makes the man in the ad go jogging with a Chihuahua in a purple beret. It was a joke that women could appreciate.
Kudos to the brand that best took advantage of the power out, Calvin Klein. The brand shook up the tonality of the ad game by giving us an update on its now classic pushing boundaries with nudity and sexuality – but like in an arty way – in a gorgeous spot. But when the lights went out CK turned to a free consumer video app Vine to further titillate at least half the audience online.
Branded half time.
I won’t be praising any of Pepsi’s other ads in this post, but I will say Bravo for branding half-time. It’s hard to find any press around Beyonce’s half-time performance without a mention of her deal with Pepsi. The brand collected thousands of photos of consumers in specific poses for weeks before the game on the Pepsi site and assembled them into a pre-halftime ad that rolled right into Bey’s flaming performance. Participants were notified so they could let all their friends know. This is a great example of really deep and valuable participation—doing something beautiful for the few who will love you forever vs. trying to scale a freakin’ hashtag.
Despite the GoDaddy random exploitation of humans expanded from hot chicks to nerds that has nothing to do with anything. . . there were a few SB ads that had wonderful moments of human truth: Insights. I don’t call these out in academic appreciation, but as a reminder that even in the Anything-Goes ad event that is the Super Bowl, simple revelations about Us are welcome. Dodge Ram trucks brought a change in tone to the frivolity of the game with a product and human revelation that a truck is for work and there are people for whom real work is a calling. Tide tapped into not just a relevant product insight that certain stains can acquire emotional baggage and remind us of when they occurred, but that couples are sooner to convert religions than change team affiliations to merge a marriage.