The big game for brands

It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone in the USA is suddenly interested in commercials. And the real game many of us are hooked on is not who scores the most points in the American football Super Bowl match but instead who has the best, most memorable, most funny or most moving TV commercial.

The cost of placing your ad around Super Bowl is astronomical, reportedly stretching to $5M a pop for the privilege this year. But the reward is getting massive amounts of eyeballs on your message not only at the time it ‘officially’ airs but also from the attention and buzz that surrounds it.

So much so that some brands scramble to find tactics to get attention around the game. For example, Kraft is going to take a different tack to land a brand message around inclusion. By going against the grain and professing to deliberately not have celebrity and instead feature ‘real’ people, this tactic at least differentiates them from the pack and drives engagement pre-game.

All eyes focus however on the ads themselves. And so many brands simply ‘leak’ their films early in a bid to maximize from the buzz around it. This year there’s the usual slew of beer, soft drink and car brands all vying for our attention. Here’s a little run down of some of them that got me thinking about what makes a good Super Bowl spot…

One that adopts the Super Bowl formula you expect… celebrities, comedy, song, with a bold, brash and fun tone. This type of ad from Doritos and Mountain Dew sticks in your memory and is exactly what people tune in for. This for me is a perfect example of entertainment and works for brands where a fun and frivolous tone is part of their identity.

What if however your brand doesn’t have that personality? Or if you are trying to land a more serious message? Do you have to be funny and use celebrities to air in the Super Bowl and cut through?

Budweiser will entertain us with humor with its Bud Knight ad but also has this more worthy message to appeal to our emotions in a different way and land its brand POV relating to helping the community. Their sustainability message infuses a sense of community and banding together that I think is quite powerful.

Coca Cola shows us that great production values can perhaps help it pull at the heart strings but in this case I wonder if something like this cuts through against the rest on the day itself? Is this a formula we’ve grown to expect, and more of an evergreen execution than something that packs the punch needed for Super Bowl?

My personal fave this year? The Amazon Alexa ad – where she loses her voice. I loved how they fully embraced what people are seeking in a Super Bowl ad with celebs and humor and surprises and yet there was a clear message coming through. A thread that communicates what discriminates the product and brand – Alexa has personality, she has a name, she’s part of your life.

We’ll see if there are any more surprises on the day itself. But the fact I’m writing this today and sharing this ahead of the game just goes to show how brands today are capitalizing on the event way ahead of the event itself to get noticed.

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