Super Bowl Ad Blog: Pamela F. Bishop

PFB Headshot1PB Once again, advertising’s and football’s biggest night proved to be a showcase where “big ideas” must rise to meet “the big game.” Besides the New England Patriots, the big winners of the night were the Super Bowl viewers. It is great to see advertisers continue to look for distinctive ways to reach consumers and make a statement about their brands to the world. From my unique vantage point as both a consumer and an advertising professional, I saw commercials inadvertently group themselves into the following categories:

The Thought-Provokers:

This category really saw an uptick this year as cause marketing and overall social consciousness continue to rise around the globe. The winners of this category include Dove (and Nissan), with a heart-warming tribute to Dads and parenting, Always with “Think Like a Girl,” Coca-Cola’s message of #MakeItHappy, Microsoft’s “Estella’s Brilliance Bus,” and McDonald’s with a promotional spin on “spread love.” Nationwide also made an attempt in this category, but fell flat. (More to come on that.)

The Entertainers:

This is the category that always ultimately wins the night. Once again, Budweiser didn’t disappoint with its ongoing saga of the “lost dog,” and Doritos continues to dominate the humor category with its fan/indie filmmaker spots including “Airplane Seatmate.” Among the newcomers were Snickers, with a continuation of its “Snickers Transformation” campaign and spoof on the iconic Brady Bunch, and Turbo Tax with its re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party. While these brands did little to provide new information about their product/service, they did help deliver some of the biggest laughs of the evening. Which brings us to our next category…

The Informers:

To me, this is where you want to be when you spend $4.5 million for a 30-second TV spot and have a chance to differentiate your brand to the world. The winners in this category were able to find the right balance between informing and entertaining. OK, so I am a little biased in congratulating our client BMW on informing us about the revolutionary nature of the i3 and BMW sister brand MINI’s competitor, Fiat, which did a masterful but slightly controversial job in introducing its new, larger and more powerful 500X Crossover. Little-known brand Loctite injected some much-needed humor and gained brand awareness in a low-interest category: glue.

The Disasters:

This is the category that no advertiser wants to find themselves in as it can definitely be a “career-limiting move.” The biggest losers include Nationwide’s “accidental death,” which may mean the accidental death of someone’s career. Super Bowl ads are rarely left to the decision of one person, so hopefully the blame for this PR nightmare can be a shared responsibility. The big lesson learned is, if you think your ad may be risky, do what Go Daddy did and release it early so you have time to recover. While the early release of Go Daddy’s “puppy ad” was not intended to test the waters, its negative reception did highlight the power of the consumer and gave the company a chance to rebound. The new ad, which was shot in record time, was a total departure from its previous controversial ads, which objectified women, and actually informed consumers about what Go Daddy does in helping small businesses launch themselves on the web. All I have to say is it’s about time!

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to Lexus for running an ad during the Super Bowl that was developed by the company’s multicultural agency and clearly targeted African American consumers with its NX Turbo Hybrid. Not only is it great to see the work of small agencies making it to the big game, but also to see brands recognize that ads targeting multicultural consumers are no longer only for placement in multicultural media outlets. Recognizing cross-cultural values is becoming the norm as brands embrace the multicultural mainstream.