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SUPER BOWL XLIX: AD REVIEW

This year’s Super Bowl ads can be characterized as nothing but lackluster in their enthusiasm and messaging. In fact, while some of the ads were thought-provoking and even inspirational, most were just downright somber.

Posted on February 3, 2015 by Michael Schmid



THIS YEAR’S SUPER BOWL ADS CAN BE CHARACTERIZED AS NOTHING BUT LACKLUSTER IN THEIR ENTHUSIASM AND MESSAGING. IN FACT, WHILE SOME OF THE ADS WERE THOUGHT-PROVOKING AND EVEN INSPIRATIONAL, MOST WERE JUST DOWNRIGHT SOMBER.


I thought one of the worst ads was from Nationwide Insurance in their “Make Safe Happen” spot. While the message of ensuring we provide a safe environment for our children is certainly worthy of air time, the idea of a child not growing up because he drowned in a bathtub was absolutely inconsistent with the family and near-holiday atmosphere of Super Bowl. I’m sure the ad had a lot of kids asking their parents, “Did the kid die in that bathtub?” Imagine having to field that question in the midst of a festive Super Bowl party! I’m really not sure where Nationwide was trying to go with this ad. I guess I was in such shock when seeing the ad air in prime time that I can’t quite recall the purpose behind the message. Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” spot gets my vote for the worst Super Bowl 2015 ad.


Conversely, Always delivered a very powerful and inspirational message with their “Like a Girl” ad. I thought this was the most effective ad of the evening with respect to tying a brand to a theme which not only resonated with its target audience (women), but certainly could be appreciated by men with young daughters.


Always departed from the normal hyping of the benefits and features of its feminine products, and instead chose to align the Always brand with the key message of raising girls’ self-esteem. I’m sure this superbly timed and welldone ad campaign, delivered to over 100M viewers (at least half of whom were women) will serve to solidify loyalty among the Always consumer base, and drive many women to consider switching from competitive brands.


Another highly effective ad airing during the Super Bowl was the Dodge “Wisdom” campaign. In recognizing 100 years as a brand, Dodge featured centenarians imparting “wisdom” about how to live life. The ad opened on a serious note, with each elder giving some common sense advice for life, but ended in a much more jovial manner. The advice given by each individual toward the end of the ad was more about living life to the fullest, or even in the moment. This suggested that owning a new Dodge would somehow provide a person with the means to live life in the fast lanes. The Dodge “Wisdom” spot takes the number two position in my Super Bowl ad review.


Next to Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” ad, Nissan’s “With Dad” spot takes the next to last position. Nissan really missed the boat here. In fact, I was so astonished at the poor execution in messaging, given associating an absentee father with the Nissan brand, that I tweeted about it while glued to the TV. I suppose one could argue that the spot incited some action on my part, but did it really create a positive image and message for the Nissan brand? I can’t imagine that any man wants to be labeled as an absentee father. And certainly no woman wants to be associated with a man who is never around to help raise the kids.


Nissan completely missed the opportunity to use an otherwise family-friendly and festive atmosphere, the Super Bowl, as a catalyst to help boost positive brand image, and instead chose to associate its automobiles with a poor example of fatherhood.


Finally, rounding out my top three spots in the Super Bowl 2015 Ad wars is the Doritos “When Pigs Fly” commercial. It was the typical, humorous ad we’ve come to expect from a multi-million dollar Super Bowl promotion. The commercial was true Americana, given the home-spun Middle America farm setting, and befitting of an all-American event like the Super Bowl. We can all appreciate craving Doritos corn chips, and we could all grasp the concept of wanting them so much that causing a pig to fly is a small challenge given the tasty reward at the end of such an accomplishment. Doritos proved to be one of only a few ads that lightened things up with cleverness and humor.


It should be noted that this Super Bowl broke no records in terms of social media engagement, although it was clear that the audience was socially and electronically engaged. According to Salesforce.com, there were approximately 14M tweets concerning the Super Bowl, which was down 1.4% from the prior year. Nearly 9% of Sunday’s Facebook posts made some mention of Super Bowl, while 90% of the tweets made reference.



THERE WERE, HOWEVER, 28M PEOPLE TWEETING DURING THE SUPER BOWL, LEADING ONE REPORTER TO RECENTLY COMMENT THAT TWITTER HAS BECOME THE “VIRTUAL SPORTS BAR” OF CHOICE.


I find it interesting that nearly 10% of the US population was tweeting or following twitter during the Super Bowl, but only half of the commercials featured twitter handles or hash tags in their ads. I’d say half of the advertisers missed out on a prime opportunity to engage and converse with an engaged American (indeed worldwide) audience during Super Bowl XLIX.





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