Was it really Super?

Last night we huddled around the TV with anticipation for the biggest advertising night of the year for brands in the US. The expectations are always high, but this year I was left feeling a little…well, underwhelmed.

I don’t dispute the challenge of crafting something that cuts through, a truly memorable execution that leaves you surprised, moved or even shocked. But this year’s selection overall seemed to me to be slim pickings. There were so many that used familiar formulas, so many were quite expected. With a reported price tag of $5.25M to air a spot, were brands playing it safe this year for the investment?

Having started this post being a bit of a ‘debbie-downer’, there were a few that made me chuckle, which i thought were well done…

Amazon — Indiana Jones chasing a little puppy around who is placing dog food orders for himself – genius! I think Amazon did a good job last year and they did it again for me this year.

Bud Light/Game of Thrones — Many viewers were no doubt stunned and perhaps confused to see the beer ad morph into a “Game of Thrones” tie-in, but it was genuinely surprising at least.

Microsoft — Showcasing special game controllers for kids who need them was not only uplifting but an example of the great things that technology can help people accomplish.

Stella Artois — On their own, the celebs of “Sex and the City” and “The Big Lebowski” — and the characters played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges — would have been mildly clever. But in a day filled with incongruous celebrity endorsements, mashing the two together felt like an inspired coup.

And a few really missed the mark…

Olay — Their first Super Bowl ad — a horror-movie spoof featuring scream queen Sarah Michelle Gellar, where even the slasher wants to discuss her great-looking skin. Was this really the best foot forward for a beauty brand? It didn’t drive credibility in the product, nor did it drive an aspirational emotional feeling towards the brand. Working in beauty myself, I struggled with this – hopefully for them they’ll prove me wrong.

Pepsi — The soft-drink giant presented a star-studded spoof built around people asking, “Is Pepsi OK?,” which really just reminds viewers that a lot of people like Coke better. As advertising goes, it’s a classic self-own.

Yellowtail — Whatever the wine tastes like, the company’s ad tastes bor-ring. My friend turned to me after seeing this and said “if you ever bring Yellowtail to my house you won’t be invited back” – not really the reaction I think they were seeking. This one was so dull I’ll spare you.

And how about that controversial one?

Burger King — Andy Warhol? It’s a talker. I actually liked this. It made me pause and want to investigate what the heck it was about. While some people are scratching their heads wondering how it makes you want to run out and get a burger. I think Burger King is a brand with license to push the boundaries a little given the creative striddes it has been making in advertising recently. This again was surprising, if a little confusing at first.

In a crowd of quite expected executions, the few surprises that were there should be applauded.

What did you think? Did I miss something?

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