Life after the Super Bowl

I don’t know about you but my week this week has been filled with cafeteria conversations and après-work debates over drinks on the topic of which were our favorite ads during the Super Bowl and which ones fell a little flat.

One great conversation I had was with friends who work at PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch. We discussed how some ads are crafted especially for the Super Bowl and some are just iconic ads that are designed to be used for a longer term campaign but first featured there.

It got me thinking… which approach is best? And does it always pay to craft something so specifically for Super Bowl? And even if you hedge your bets to craft something you use beyond the game, is it then worth airing during such an expensive spot?

USA today’s admeter is a useful barometer to help understand which of the 65 ads best cut-through and made an impact with the audience for the Super Bowl.

Here’s a quick comparison of ads from the beer brands to help explore this…

Ranked #3 Budweiser – Stand by Me


  • Featuring real workers from the brewery, I believe this one has been carefully constructed to deliver emotional impact in a way that is suitable for the big game moment, and the high rank reflects that. But it also lands an important message from the brand in a way that doesn’t rely on whimsical humorous tactics or celebrity cameos – it hits the ‘iconic’ button and could be used past the game but also works for the game.

Ranked #18 Bud Light – Ye Olde Pep Talk & ranked #25 Bud Light – Bud Knight


  • “Dilly dilly”! Nothing beats the creation of something that will catch fire and infect common language. This one scored in the top half of scores but it wasn’t as high on the list as I believe the team may have hoped. It certainly adopts the entertaining characteristics of a classic Super Bowl script. The question I have is if the first installment scores higher, and if it was the witty language in that one that cut-through, was the second ad necessary and worth the additional investment? The technique of multiple ads spreading across the game was dominated by Tide and it’s questionable whether this tactic achieved a positive emotional response or was just annoying – I’ll let you decide that one.

Ranked #24 Stella Artois – Taps


  • I believe this was crafted to air more long-term and not specifically for the Super Bowl. For me it lacks the drama in construction compared the Bud’s ‘Stand by me’. And interestingly, as a result, doesn’t score as highly. This begs the question for me whether the investment in Super Bowl placement was really worth it? Only the execs on the team will know and clearly they were seeking massive eyeballs. Maybe in todays every fragmented media-world it was worth it. It’s a bold move to require a Super Bowl placement to get the eye balls when your ad creative may not cut through as strongly versus others.

Ranked #31 Michelob – The Perfect Fit & ranked #42 Michelob – I like Beer


  • Michelob shows us that going full hog with a celebrity investment and making a splash on two ad placements around the game is not the easiest challenge to make work. The low rankings show how that this creative needed to be better in order to get the most of the investment. And the celebrity splash and nature of how these were constructed is not something I think may be optimal for continual use past the big game – if it flopped in the spotlight then is it worth stringing it out?

Of course what I don’t have is any data on how these ads may perform in general placement circumstances without the hype, pomp and circumstance of the Super Bowl. I’ve learnt that testing can reveal very different results. So my evaluation of suitability for airing long term is my speculation.

Regardless, taking on the Super Bowl to advertise your brand is no mean feat. To maximize the investment I believe it pays to have kick-ass creative that grabs intention for placement around the game itself, but if you can achieve that AND have an ad that effectively lands your brand message well generally and won’t wear out quickly so you can continue to air it after the event you may have hit the Holy Grail.


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