For folks in the marketing and advertising world, the Super Bowl is practically a religious holiday. If your brands placed ads or created real-time social content during the big game, you probably had a war room assembled, watching, waiting and freaking out every few minutes. If your brands weren’t directly involved, you got to sit back and analyze the work of other creatives and competitor brands. So, what were the highlights (and lowlights) from the ads of Super Bowl LII?
Saatchi and Saatchi New York
The Tide Trifecta
Three things made this ad a winner (and they’re the secret sauce other brands need to pay attention to): star power, connection with the audience, and brand recall.
- David Harbour (Detective Hopper of Stranger Things fame) led the spots with a biting wit and wink-and-nod approach, as if to tell the audience, “this is kind of dumb, but we’re in on it together.”
- If Dove has taught us anything over the years, it’s that making an emotional connection with your customers is key to a memorable spot. Those connections don’t have to be teary ones, though, and Tide showed us how to do it through humor.
- So, so many mentions of that brand name. They went beyond beating you over the head with the Tide and their key message (clean clothes, no stains!), and made it memorable.
Tide had a massive budget this year, but even without multiple ad spots and additional celeb cameos, the first-quarter ad would’ve made a splash.
Amazon, Australia Tourism, the NFL and Squarespace all included big-name celebrities in their ads, most of them featuring more than one star.
- Amazon and the NFL used humor and multiple celebrities to pull off their ads, and without that Tide campaign, they’d be in the running for top honors this year.
- That Australia Tourism ad didn’t make me want to visit Australia as much as it made me want to see that move. Here’s hoping Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride can work out a deal with one of the movie studios to make it happen.
Emotional Connection and Brand Recall
In years past, emotional connection has been Dove’s territory, and marketers have learned from it. Toyota, T-Mobile and Hyundai all attempted to enter that make-you-sob territory this year, with mixed results.
- Toyota’s ad featuring Paralympian Lauren Woolstencroft tugged at the heart strings and got me excited for the Olympics. But, brand placement didn’t come until the very end of the spot and unlike me, most of Toyota’s audience probably wasn’t looking for it.
- Honestly, I thought T-Mobile’s baby ad was for Planned Parenthood when I saw that transition to a pink lock-up at the end of the spot. I struggled to see the connection between the brand and the content of the ad — don’t get me wrong, I think the message was great — but connecting diversity and equality to the brand in a meaningful way (perhaps through a cause marketing campaign?) could’ve really helped drive affinity with consumers who care about brands living their beliefs.
- Hyundai’s ad made me a little teary, as most of those “surprise real-life people with a touching story” ads do. There was a real cause here, Hyundai donates a percentage of every sale to Children’s Cancer Research. Note: I got some anxiety about missed flights when I thought these people were going through airport security — but it turns out the security checkpoint was to gain access to a Super Bowl event.
- Where were the pizza brands?
- There was a noticeable absence of ads crossing over from TV to real-time social (I wasn’t targeted with a single Twitter ad during the game)
- Kylie won. Sorry, she did. ✓Star Power ✓Emotional Connection ✓Brand Recall
editor’s note: Coca-Cola and Diet Coke were left out of this round-up due to Fast Horse’s relationship with those brands