Another Year of Super Bowl Commercials?

Each year, I watch the trends of the Super Bowl commercials. This year I decided to take a poll and see what the audience thinks. The people I polled ranged in age from from ten to fifty-five years-old. I found the most popular spots to be:

  • “The 80’s Called and Wants Their Store Back” by Radio Shack
  • “Time Machine” by Doritos
  • “Puppy Love” by Budweiser
  • “Dad’s Sixth Sense” by Hyundai Genesis
  • “Wonderful Pistachios Stephen Colbert” by Wonderful Pistachios
  • “A Better Web Awaits” by Squarespace (They’re a Super Bowl newcomer.)
  • “Romance” by Chevrolet

The consensus among the twenty people I polled was that these seven spots were the clear-cut favorites. “Puppy Love”, an ad for Budweiser beer, is a great example of a feel- good spot, and I believe the world will rank this as one of the highest of this year’s Super Bowl advertisements. In years past, humor has been a key aspect to the theme of the Budweiser brand, featuring monkeys one year and babies talking the next. However, this year was very much a free-for-all.

One trend I found this year was that many spots left the audience wondering what they were watching until the brand’s logo appeared in the last three seconds. The agencies creating the ads are hoping the spot becomes so popular that the brand takes shape from how popular the spot becomes and from the number of views it gets online. The issue with the Audi’s “Doberhuahua” spot, for example, is that no one knew it was an Audi commercial when I asked them what was the spot for. Also, big-time directors are getting involved in directing these spots.

Brands this year released potentially controversial and unexpected ads. The gay couple in Coca-Cola’s, “America the Beautiful” ad will surely raise some eyebrows, as will the black and white couple in a Cheerios ad. Bud Light’s “Ian Up for Whatever” was divided into two spots. I liked the Bud Light spots because they featured an an average guy put into a surreal environment. It left the audience wanting to know what Bud Light had in store for the next scene or which celebrity would pop in as the next cameo. Interestingly, the group I watched the Super Bowl never mentioned the Bud Light series of ads in my poll. Another ad that resonated with me was “Love Hurts” from Turbo Tax. It was very creative and unexpected for tax software. And then came the worst spot–a Scientology ad on the Super Bowl?

Now just a few dynamics. Chrysler was betting on the fact that game would be a nail-biter, so they slotted their spot near the start of the fourth quarter. At the time that the ad ran, however, the game was basically over for many fans. People started to turn off the game or leave their parties when they saw it was 36-8 blow out. Given a 30 second spot cost $4 million, that spot cost Chrysler $16 million. However, the ad had almost 500,000 views on YouTube within 14 hours after it aired. The issue I see is that Chrysler is owned by the Italian company FIAT, and once the message goes viral, this spot won’t have legs.

So the trends I see, are no trends at all. Creativity rules. And again, for many of you that don’t believe marketing is effective, Squarespace was started 10 years ago–have you ever heard of them? Despite being a relatively unknown brand before the Super Bowl, they had 200,000 views a couple of hours after their ad’s release. How effective is that?

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