Some people tune into the Super Bowl for the game, others for half-time shows and commercials. Whether you eagerly awaited a performance by Adam Levine, Big Boi and Travis Scott or just stayed for the ads, the big game is always the most-watched television event of the year. As the biggest stage for advertisers, each year the bar is set even higher.
Common themes included companies showing their social impact, technological innovation and diversity. Robots and artificial intelligence taking over everyday life were especially prevalent. Advertisers recognized that women are a part of their Super Bowl audience. So leading up to the event, companies used teasers to extend their reach. We’re taking a look at ads that scored big and some that missed the mark in the Super Bowl LIII.
The MVP: The Washington Post
There has never been a more important time in our country for newsrooms to take a stand. In 2017, The Washington Post adopted the slogan “Democracy dies in darkness.” When the phrase first appeared on the newspaper’s masthead, it really got people talking. The paper’s owner first heard the phrase from associate editor Bob Woodward, who read it in a First Amendment judicial case opinion. This year, the slogan was turned into a Super Bowl ad voiced by Tom Hanks. It tugged at America’s heartstrings and reminded us how important journalists and news institutions are to our country. The Washington Post furthered its reach by sending an e-newsletter that featured the ad alongside other relevant news.
Clutch Performance: NFL 100
In a true example of knowing their audience, the NFL commercial celebrating its centennial season starred 44 retired and active football players. The football legends transformed a ballroom into a black-tie football game complete with smashed cake, broken champagne glasses and crushed tables. Football fans across the country loved seeing their favorite players back in action.
Salute to Service: Budweiser
There are a few things that people have come to expect during the Super Bowl, including Tom Brady, the Patriots and Budweiser Clydesdales. This year, Budweiser embodied the principle of “show, don’t tell” with its “Wind Never Felt Better” commercial. The use of solar energy showed viewers how they are making a difference instead of simply talking about how much they care. Kudos to Budweiser for switching to wind power and making a better tomorrow.
Rookie of the Year: @World_Record_Egg
The rise of social media, streaming services and high-profile influencers prove that we no longer live in a traditional world of advertising. An anonymous egg took this belief to the next level. This happened when its Instagram account rose to fame by surpassing Kylie Jenner’s record number of likes. @World_Record_Egg leveraged its partnership with Hulu to announce a big reveal following the Super Bowl. There was a ton of speculation about what would break out of the egg. After much anticipation, we’ve never been so thrilled that our guesses were wrong. The Instagram account used its platform in a way we never expected by partnering with Mental Health America and Hulu. The touching PSA raises awareness about the pressures of the world and the importance of reaching out for help if you need it.
Other ads that scored big were Pepsi’s “More than Okay” commercial and the Bubly sparkling water ad. The star-studded commercials humorously appealed to consumers by highlighting relatable questions about the product. Featuring Michael Bublé, Bubly joked about the pronunciation of the singer’s name to increase brand awareness. The Pepsi commercial channeled Cardi B’s inner diva Steve Carrell’s humor and Lil’s John’s iconic “OK” to promote the soft drink as anything but average. Finally, Microsoft released an all-inclusive ad that showed off an Xbox accessible controller that really resonated with viewers.
What was the worst Super Bowl Commercial of 2019?
Just like the Rams, some brands weren’t as successful with their Super Bowl ad campaigns. Burger King took an artsy approach to turn old Andy Warhol documentary footage into a Whopper ad. Although the quiet commercial lacking background music and voiceovers caught our attention, it did not portray a tasty burger. The NSFW Devour commercial compared a love for frozen food to the pain and devastation of addiction. Understanding the balance between humor and heartlessness is always important. Finally, according to Business Insider, Michelob Ultra’s Pure Gold commercial incorporating ASMR missed the mark. Not only that, but it generated 51 percent negative feedback on Twitter. Despite Anheuser Busch’s ad flop with Michelob Ultra, sister company Bud Light enlightened us with the revelation that there is no corn syrup in their beer. The ad sparked social media responses from other beer brands and some controversy within the corn industry.
Super Bowl ads prove that we live in an interactive market place. Brands must be ready to respond to the online conversation. Strategic messaging and a strong communications team are crucial to brand survival in the digital age.