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Without a doubt, the Super Bowl has spawned some of the most exciting, head-turning, impactful and downright groundbreaking feats of advertising the world has ever seen. It’s also produced some of the worst.
Producing a Super Bowl ad that is either poignant, inspirational, humorous - or a mix of all these elements - can prove a formidable challenge, but when it’s done right, the results are incredible. In contrast, when brands miss the mark, the results can prove disastrous.
Opinion amongst football fans is split as 43% of people say that Super Bowl ads have been improving in quality over the last five years, while 30% say that the ads are getting worse.
As Super Bowl 2019 has just reached its exciting climax, in this article we explore the best, and worst ads from this year’s event.
To promote the launch of its new wind-powered beer brewing process, drinks mogul Budweiser delivered a Super Bowl advert that was both subtle and striking in equal measures.
With a visually stunning sequence showcasing two men and a dog on a horse-drawn carriage, basking in the breeze through dreamy American countryside, and Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind' serving as an apt soundtrack, Budweiser shared their eco-friendly message in a way that is both tasteful and inspirational. And the strapline, ‘wind never felt better’ ties every element of the ad seamlessly.
Takeaway: By focusing on your brand's core message, placing it at the heart of your campaign and building a narrative around it, you will deliver an advert that strikes a real chord with your intended audience.
The Washington Post
In its Super Bowl advertising debut, The Washington Post prevailed with an advert that makes you stand up and take notice right from the get-go.
A hard-hitting visual ad that highlighting the often-dangerous work carried out by journalists and narrated by the warm, iconic voice of Tom Hanks, the video has a solid narrative that features those in the industry that have died or disappeared.
Sharing the message that ‘knowing keeps us free’ and ‘democracy dies in the darkness’, The Washington Post hit home the importance of honest, fact-driven journalism in today’s world.
As such, the publication has positioned itself as an oracle for reliable, unbiased, real-time information in a world full of fake news - an excellent entry to the Super Bowl advertising arena.
Takeaway: If you are looking to deliver a poignant, hard-hitting message, being bold and daring will help you get results - as long as you’re honest, transparent and tasteful in your efforts. And, by using an influencer to appear in or narrate your advert, you stand to gain additional traction and a boost in brand awareness.
Kia is one of the world’s most forward-thinking car manufacturers and this year’s Super Bowl ad is a testament to that very notion. Rather than using a star-studded celebrity lineup to endorse its products, this year Kia chose to celebrate the everyday people that help to manufacture their world-renowned vehicles.
Not only is the ad’s strapline, ‘here’s to the great unknowns’ nothing short of inspirational but the entire sequence is emotive, epic and stunning to watch - drilling down into the grassroots talent that has made the company what it is today.
Takeaway: To prevail in your digital marketing or video advertising efforts, you don’t necessarily have to lean on influencers to be successful. By creating something that is powerful, emotional and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of your business, you stand to attract a lot of new consumers to your brand.
While the Planters' 2019 Super Bowl offering has all of the elements of a great ad - the Planters mascot driving a peanut-mobile like a mad man in the same neighborhood as Charlie Sheen and an adrenaline-pumping hair metal soundtrack (the advertising slogans were fairly witty too) - it failed to hit the mark in terms of impact.
Yes, the ad was well put together but its messaging was a little convoluted and while it was mildly entertaining, Planters’ effort was drowned out by many other showy, celebrity-centric offerings on the night.
Takeaway: Having a solid soundtrack, an amusing hook, celebrity endorsement and big-budget production is certainly helpful in creating a successful ad, if you don’t have a clear cut direction or message, your efforts are likely to fall flat. For examples of celebrity-based high-budget Super Bowl adverts that did hit the mark this year, check out Hyundai’s and Bud Light/HBO’s productions.
Despite the advert starring a certain Mr. Steve Carrell and boasting a star-spangled mix of celebrity cameos, it feels like this advert should have been funnier and more exciting than it actually was.
The central strapline, ‘more than okay’ had potential legs but as the ad failed to make the impact it promised, it failed as the campaign itself was just ‘okay’ and ‘so-so’. Moreover, by focusing on the fact that Pepsi ‘is more than okay’, the brand also ran the risk of making people feel that its direct competitor, Coca-Cola, is actually better - not great for brand growth.
Takeaway: If you’re in a situation where you have a strong direct competitor, researching their efforts and initiatives and investing your creative efforts in producing a campaign that not only shines your brand in an incredibly positive light but is completely unique is the only way to win on the commercial battlefield.
This particular advert was one of four ad spots that T-Mobile purchased for the big event and despite a healthy portion of airtime, the brand failed to pack any real punch or share any interesting insights other than offering out a few freebies, perhaps.
Although the concept here is good and the song is delivered with attitude and gusto, the brand messaging here, both visually and from a copywriting standpoint, is a little watery and fails to grab attention.
Takeaway: When it comes to digital marketing or advertising, quality is always better than quantity. If you fail to understand your audience on a deep, personal level, consider the core aim of the ad and build a narrative that makes people take notice, having several ad slots or space is immaterial.
There you have it: the best and worst ad offerings from this year’s Super Bowl.
We hope it provides some insight into the success of an ad and provides inspiration for future marketing campaigns.