Welcome to Marketing Monday, where I give you tips and tricks for being your own content marketer. This week’s post is about some of the Super Bowl ads that stood out to me, for better or worse, and why I thought they were either awesome or terrible.
Last night I decided to live Tweet about the Super Bowl ads as they were playing (you can check out my Twitter feed to see them and/or to follow me for future updates). Since I only had so much time and was frequently still writing about an ad as the next one was playing, I didn’t have time to fit them all in, but I got as many as I could. Here were the best and worst ads last night, according to yours truly:
Jurassic World: Win
The first Super Bowl ad I saw was for the new Jurassic World movie and I thought it was flawless. It built suspense right away before giving us action-packed clips, which were still interspersed with suspense-building bits, not to mention humor. I especially loved the shot of Christ Pratt against the wall with the shadow of the dinosaur’s open mouth (teeth and all) outlined against his face. It was so iconic and just perfect.
Toyota had some hits and misses last night. The first ad I saw told a compelling story, but never bothered to mention the Toyota name until the very end, so I had to give it an F because even people who liked the ad will likely never remember what it was trying to sell.
The next Toyota commercial I saw was much better, with plenty of brand presence throughout the ad, plus it made us laugh. Sometimes it helps to get another shot – even if it is outrageously expensive.
Their third commercial I really wanted to mark as a win, but I just couldn’t. I saw where they were trying to go with it, but ultimately I don’t think they succeeded in getting their point across or convincing anyone to buy a Toyota.
Sprint has been going at Verizon in all their ads lately and last night was no exception. They attacked Verizon right away and gave convincing reasons to choose Sprint instead, all while telling a story AND making us laugh. This was definitely a win.
I have no doubt that the Star Wars franchise will continue to make obscene amounts of money with their latest movie, Solo, but just grading last night’s ad by itself, I had to give it an F. It was compelling, but it withheld too much to get the audience’s interest. Instead, it relied heavily on the brand and the fact that most (if not all) viewers already know who Solo is and want to know more about him.
I got in an argument with a friend over this, because she loved it and thought last night’s ad was more of a prequel to today’s full trailer release, rather than a standalone ad for the movie, which is fine. If last night’s ad (which, let’s remember, Disney spent more $5 million just to air during the Super Bowl) was trying to get people to view the full trailer today, then I would have called it a win. But by itself, it was not an ad that could stand on its own merit.
I love musicals, but I had no idea what this show was supposed to be about. The highly over-priced ad ultimately gave me absolutely no reason to look up the show later.
Bud Light: Win
I don’t even drink Bud Light, but I loved these commercials. They were funny, entertaining, memorable, and I loved that they called him the “Bud Knight” – a clever word play that had the added benefit of embedding Bud Light in your memory. These ads were flawless.
I was so disappointed by this commercial. You’re selling chocolate. It’s probably the easiest thing in the world to sell, and yet nothing about this commercial made me want to eat M&Ms. Danny DeVito may be funny, and I can see where the idea to have him screaming that no one wanted to eat him would have been clever, but somewhere along the line it all went wrong. This was a huge fail.
Dodge Ram: Fail
Dodge had some hits and some misses last night. The first commercial was compelling, but ultimately failed to give any selling points as to why I should buy a Dodge Ram over any other truck.
This was everything it needed to be: a shot of one of their burgers looking absolutely delicious, followed by the company logo. They didn’t say anything and they didn’t need to. With such a well-known brand, people already know what they’re getting. Wendy’s was just reminding them and I’m sure they’re already reaping the rewards.
Castle Rock: Fail
I’m sure this will get plenty of viewers on the Stephen King name alone, but personally, I couldn’t tell what it was about. I felt the ad was trying too hard to be intriguing and it ended up withholding too much information to grab my attention.
Doritos Spitfire + Mountain Dew Ice: Win
I loved both of these commercials and I especially loved placing one right after the other. Heat up with some Doritos Spitfire, then cool off with some Mountain Dew Ice. Both made exceptional use of their celebrities, while still keeping the product itself front and center throughout the commercial. Well done!
Mission Impossible: Win
With that iconic line starting off the trailer, we already know what they’re selling, and from there, the ad merely continues to remind us all why we love the franchise so much. It doesn’t waste time trying to build suspense or plot, because that’s not what those movies are about. They’re about lots of fast-paced action and getting Tom Cruise to do crazy stunts and the trailer promised all of that. I’m on board.
This Is Us: Win
These ads were suspenseful, giving fans a strong reason to watch the show after the game, and it even garnered extra points by reminding viewers to adjust their DVRs as necessary.
This ad was much too vague and didn’t even mention mortgages, much less the company, until the very end.
The Cloverfield Paradox: Win
Now this is how you do vague. This ad provided me with just enough information to whet my appetite, but definitely left me wanting more.
Diet Coke Twisted Mango: Win
I don’t really have feelings one way or the other about this one, but then again, I’m not much of a soda drinker. It was fun, flirty, and colorful, which is all a beverage commercial needs to be, so I guess I’d call this one a win.
Pepsi went the other direction. Instead of promising experimental new flavors, it reminded us of the history of the brand and the fact that we all know what we’re getting when we get a Pepsi. It’s another company that has always done a good job of making their logo evident throughout their commercials and this one was no different.
Weather Tech: Fail
This one made a big deal about some new facility they’re building, but that doesn’t tell me anything about the products or services they’re selling. Epic fail.
Stacking differently flavored Pringles on top of each other to make a new flavor has probably already been done by lots of people, but as far as product placement goes (not to mention reminding people of their many available flavors), I’d call this one a win.
This one spent most of its time telling me I’m an individual (as if I didn’t already know that), then put the company name at the very end, almost as an afterthought. There was absolutely no connection between Keanu Reeves on a motorcycle and Square Space.
Turbo Tax: Win
These were great because they addressed the fact that so many people are terrified of doing their taxes, then let them know there’s nothing to fear because TurboTax is here. It presented a very common problem and then showed how they solve that problem for their customers. Brilliant.
Good Girls: Win
I loved everything about this trailer and I absolutely want to see it when it starts airing. Not only does it have some of my favorite actresses, but it gave just enough of the plot to let us know what it’s about while leaving it open ended so we want to watch to find out what happens. I cannot wait!
This one was funny while also providing clear benefits to buying the product.
U Chicago Medicine: Win
Presented the company’s name right off the bat and then again at the end. Spent the rest of the commercial explaining how they help save lives, and when it comes to conveying value, that’s really hard to top.
This product’s commercials always tell you exactly what you’re going to get: plenty of undisturbed sleep when you need it most. The many benefits to that are already obvious and well known so all they have to do is talk about how their product helps you get to sleep when you need sleep and they’re done.
Jack Ryan: Win
An excellent mixture of action and suspense. It lets us know what we’re getting into if we decide to watch and provides sufficient incentive to make us want to watch.
The Voice: Win
The logo splayed across the screen at the beginning was perfect. It let us know what was being sold and having the faces of the show sing their hearts out cemented it, complete with lyrics that also made us laugh.
Advocate Healthcare: Fail
This left no idea as to what was being sold until the very end, and by that time it’s too late because no one will remember to connect your company with the rest of the commercial.
While technically a car commercial, this was really a double team that made us want to go out and buy a Lexus and then drive it to the nearest movie theater to see Black Panther. This was a super-fun commercial that also showed off the car’s capabilities.
Jeep decided to piggy back off the upcoming Jurassic World for their Super Bowl commercial and it was perfect. It was fun, funny, action packed, and showed off a Jeep in the environment in which it was meant to be used, while also making it clear from the beginning which car they were selling.
The race track setting was smart and fun, but they could have done a better job of making it clear throughout the commercial which car they were selling.
I loved everything about this commercial, from the bits of dialogue to the super dramatic shot of everyone charging the screen to the Avengers logo at the end. Marvel knows what it’s doing.
This one was just bad. It was way off point and never mentioned a single reason for choosing T-Mobile over any of their competitors. What a waste of $5 million.
They had their logo in the lower right corner throughout the commercial, which was a good start as far as keeping the brand present, but I didn’t see them connect the brand with any of the videos they were showing, so ultimately it was a fail.
Kept their logo in the background, but prominent, throughout the commercial, while also providing strong selling points for the car. This was a clear win for their marketing department.
This one was just mean. Big fail.
I think this one was trying too hard to be clever and celebrity packed. It was hilarious, but never gave any clear reasons for buying one of Amazon’s computerized assistants. Showing what can happen if something goes wrong with their product is not the same as demonstrating how they solve a problem for people who don’t yet own one.
Universal Studios: Win
This one was adorable while consistently making it clear that they were selling the park, as well as why people should visit. The whole commercial looked like fun and it was clear that fun is what they were selling.
This one was both touching and had great brand presence throughout the entire ad. It was the best of both worlds and I had absolutely no complaints.
Stella Artois: Win
Showing that your company is socially conscious is another way of demonstrating value and I think this beer company did a great job of doing both that and maintaining brand presence throughout the commercial.
I loved how clever this one was. It started out making you think it’s an ad for a Crocodile Dundee movie, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s actually an ad for Australia tourism. I thought the misdirection was delightful.
All of these were funny and entertaining, kept the product front and center throughout the commercial, and provided clear benefits to using the product – everything that’s needed for a perfect ad.
Winter Olympics 2018
The Winter Olympics had several ads throughout the game last night and each one was worth every penny. They all told a compelling story without leaving any doubt as to what the ad wanted you to do. It helps that everyone already knows the Winter Olympics are coming up, and that the gold rings were featured somewhere in almost every shot, but the way those shots were edited to convey the most powerful emotions (with the perfect song playing over it) was flawless.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to contact me or let me know in the comments if you disagree with any of my picks (or my reasoning).