What a game! I had no rooting interest on the field this year, so I was happy to enjoy the back-and-forth action that went down to the wire. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on the franchise’s first championship! Now let’s move on to the competitors who paid big bucks to catch a piece of the action — and the audience’s purchasing power.
- The Ram Trucks commercial had it all: natural product integration, a journey to the Super Bowl, a compelling story, great music and a not-so-subtle jab at the home team. It even contained a strong call-to-action (CTA), inviting viewers to watch the full story on its website.
- “It’s a Tide ad.” A laundry detergent company won the Super Bowl. Tide ran a commercial in every quarter telling viewers how every other ad was actually a Tide ad. Its efforts spilled over to social media, as other brands started to join the conversation, realizing their own ads were actually Tide ads. What’s even better than telling a great story? Other people (and brands) telling your story for you. Plus, Tide’s dominance helped take attention off the ridiculous Tide Pod Challenge, which the company only mentioned on social (smart move).
- Doritos and Mountain Dew joined forces in the rap battle to end all rap battles. Peter Dinklage (Doritos Blaze) and Morgan Freeman (Mountain Dew Ice) showcased two new products in a joint 60-second spot, inviting viewers to vote for their favorite (#SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD) on social. And vote they did! The two PepsiCo brands won Twitter’s inaugural BrandBowl by driving the highest velocity of most-tweets-per-minute. The spot was entertaining, introduced new products to a receptive audience, integrated well with social and contained a strong CTA. Who did you vote for: #SPITFIRE or #ICECOLD?
- Wendy’s roasted its main competitor with McDonald’s own website. If you follow the fast food brand on Twitter, its commercial continued the same sassy tone that the brand is known for. Brand voice needs to be consistent across all platforms and marketing vehicles, and Wendy’s is all in. Now millions of Super Bowl viewers know where to go for fresh, never frozen beef — and it’s not the Frozen, er Golden Arches.
- The NFL had a long and controversial season, but the league was a big winner on Super Bowl Sunday with a thrilling game and epic commercial. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. have big plans in Touchdown Celebrations to Come. The league teased the commercial throughout the game, piquing the audience’s interest, and then nailed its moment (just like Eli and OBJ did). This campaign had it all: nostalgia, a big market team, two popular stars, an iconic movie and a reminder there are more touchdowns to come next season, which isn’t that far away.
- Verizon answered the call by dedicating its Super Bowl spot to first responders. The telecommunications company connected survivors with first responders who saved their lives, so they could say thanks. It was a powerful ad that highlighted often unsung heroes and had a strong connection to the brand. (This is important with any ad to avoid a disconnect with the viewing audience.) Listening to the phone calls between survivors and first responders made us smile, and we join with Verizon in offering #AllOurThanks to first responders everywhere.
- Budweiser highlighted its corporate responsibility efforts by showcasing its water donation program. The King of Beers has delivered cans of water to areas hit by natural disasters for 30 years and is adding another brewery to its program by the end of 2018. The company’s social platforms carried the message further, inviting visitors to learn more about its program and donate to relief efforts. The initial notes of Stand By You grabbed viewers’ attention and the heart-warming (and timely) message made us feel good, even without its famous Clydesdales. (Don’t worry, the famous Clydesdales did appear in Beer Country online.)
- How does a company win and lose in the same game? Ask Ram Trucks. The company’s Icelandic Vikings commercial was a hit, but its Built to Serve ad fell flat — and offended many. We appreciate the brand’s attempt to create a sense of community among its customers and highlighting their call to serve, but using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech was not the way to go. The brand’s 2013 Super Bowl commercial utilized Paul Harvey’s So God Made a Farmer speech in a similar format, which made sense — and was a hit with the audience. It’s tempting to try to recreate the past, but that’s a risky proposition, especially when you fail the second time around.
- Ditto, T-Mobile. The mobile company likes to be seen as disrupting its industry, but missed the mark with its Super Bowl ad, Little Ones. I was surprised when the logo appeared at the end of the commercial and saw no connection to the brand or what it does. (Note the contrast with Verizon’s ad, which utilized its capabilities to do good and won with viewers.)
- The all-new Chevy Traverse is a well-designed family car, and its commercial does a fantastic job of highlighting that. Unfortunately, this ad has been running for at least a month. Why spend $5 million on a media buy to run regular content?
- Best Continuation of Overall Campaign: Toyota, Good Odds (Mobility for All)
- Most Improved: Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans
- Target Audience Hit: Avocados from Mexico, #GuacWorld
- Carried Over Post-Game Momentum: Mucinex, POSTGAME (#SuperSickMonday)
Overall, the ads were as strong as the game. Who was the biggest winner? The audience. Unless we were in a Tide ad too.
Do you agree with our winners, losers and honorable mention?
Who won your Brand Bowl?
I watch the commercials all year-