Super Bowl. The single biggest annual sporting media event in the US. For me it means only one thing – one awesome adfest! Of course branding and advertising is what I do so it makes sense but why would “normal” people care. But apparently they do. According to a latest research, 78% of the Super Bowl audience watches the event not for the sport but for it’s advertising! Seriously?! WOW!
How did the Super Bowl turn advertising upside down? Last I checked advertising was supposed to be seen as an interruption. The price to pay for watching what you really want to watch. The tides have turned. Advertising has a become serious art. Super Bowl is the exhibition where the best get to show off their work. Well not exactly, at least the ones with the deepest pocket do. And that too at a price of $4.5 million for a 30 second spot. Which is a steal by the way according to NBC Execute Seth Winter. He claimed that the true value of a Super Bowl is actually worth $10 million accounting for the PR exposure and related online views. So you can imagine with such a price tag, brands want to get the maximum bang for their buck (excuse the cliche) and they should! But not all manage to do so. Those who do use anything from humor, heart-tugging emotion, celebrity power to leverage the age old hook of sex appeal. Regardless of the tactic used Super Bowl challenges advertisers to take their game to a whole new level and this year was no different. Here are my picks of the most awesome ads.
Budweiser – #BestBuds
This one resonates for it’s sheer storytelling power. It has all the elements of a great story. A story of friendship. The villain. The hero. The fall. The triumph. Something relatable and true to the promise of the category – belonging and friendship. More importantly Budweiser is doing something quite iconic with it through this theme which they have been pursuing for a while now. It resembles the kind of imagery Marlboro had once created for itself. That one was built on the idea of Freedom. The Wild West. And the Marlboro Man encapsulating the belief that “Men are born free and real men that stay that way”. Budweiser builds on that basic human truth of “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. Check out the commercial below:
McDonald’s – Pay with Lovin’
McDonald’s also went the heart-tugging route with an amazing real world activation that wonderfully built on the essence of “I’m lovin’ it”. This time taking it from the product experience to a relationship level by linking it to Valentine’s Day. The beauty of this execution is the spontaneity and the small, genuine gestures of love they provoke their customers to participate in. And that too tied nicely to the consumption experience, right at the point of sale! If you think about it, this approach is not entirely new. Burger King’s Whopper Freakout was also executed live in store but it built on a different insight. More so live activations using surprise have been used time and time again. We saw WestJet do it for Christmas to great effect, we saw TD bank do it to thank it’s customers, and Coca Cola have done this on so many occasions. Regardless of the low novelty value of the execution style, it’s the power of surprise executed genuinely and linked to the promise of the brand that makes this one great in my opinion. Check it out below:
Mophie – All Powerless
There is something about these “God” Campaigns. They are epic, bold and surprising. The beauty is the simplicity of the idea executed through a larger than life execution. Of course this approach is not new to adverting or to Super Bowl but the dramatization is indeed very epic. The insight is very simple. We all know what happens when our cell phone battery dies. In the connected world that we live in mobile phones have become essential to our life. As essential as “food, clothing and shelter” and if they die our world can come to a halt. They have taken this insight to the extreme and applied it to the All-Powerful. For many it is blasphemous territory much like Noah and Exodus that can clash with religious beliefs but on a light-hearted note if you are OK to overlook this deliberate and loose approach to depicting the All-Mighty then you get one very interesting TV commercial idea. Check it out below: