Super Bowl Is Still The Best Marketing Showcase There Is

Thursday 04th, February 2016


super bowl photoThe Super Bowl is just around the corner. And there is a keen sense of anticipation to see just what new and interesting creative work the various brands will roll out this year.

Why does the Super Bowl continue to be such a powerful draw? Why is it that year after year, marketers line up to showcase their stellar work? And why is it that the event not only continues to attract long-established advertisers, but newer ones eager to establish their brand as well?

Most bang for the buck

Advertising on the Super Bowl certainly doesn’t come cheap. The estimate for 2016 is that advertisers will typically pay about $5 million dollars for a 30-second TV commercial. Despite this, advertisers believe that this is their best opportunity to reach a huge audience. The expectation this year is that the audience will top 100 million. Those are the kind of numbers that would make any marketing person salivate.

The Wall Street Journal has compiled a showcase of this year’s selection of commercials. You can see the selection here. Organised into Best, Worst, Funniest and Star Power the page allows you to vote for your choice.

Automobile advertising on steroids

As may be expected, automobile brands make up a sizeable chunk. There are ads from Hyundai, Honda, the Acura NSX and the Mini competing for attention. For my money’s worth, the ‘Chase’ commercial from Hyundai caught attention with its good production values and slick editing.

The commercial features a couple being chased through the forest by a couple of giant bears. They scramble to find their car and the man activates the doors via a voice command through his watch. As they drive off, the bears come to life ruing the loss of juicy prey! There is some wry humour on display here when one of the bears confesses to being vegan!

A move away from imagery

What I found interesting about Hyundai’s approach was that they have chosen to focus on a specific product feature that many customers would no doubt find useful. With the growing popularity of wearables, this is a new convenience to offer and may possibly end up eliminating the need for a separate key fob over time.

Unlike Hyundai, Honda seem to have chosen to highlight a somewhat more unusual feature for their Ridgeline series: Truck-bed audio. I’m guessing this probably has appeal to ranchers, but this strikes me as little more than a feature designed for a niche audience. In any case, there are probably several after-market options available already so Honda’s claim seems somewhat dubious.

Of the lot, the Mini Clubman’s commercial seems to be the most confused. The commercial features a selection of people variously describing the car as a chick car, a gay car, a short man’s car and so on. The sign-off strikes a note of defiance saying that the car defies all labels. Take it or leave it, seems to be the key take-out here. I found the idea somewhat interesting, but it is always a bit dangerous for a brand to let its audience interpret the brand proposition. Good luck to Mini for trying to push the envelope and hoping it sticks.

Riding on patriotism

With the US national elections due at the end of this year, Bud Light has chosen to ride piggyback on the election theme. You might be forgiven for thinking that this is a campaign from one of the candidates! Slickly executed, with all the right emotional appeals the campaign does make you smile and say “Cheers”!

Injecting class

It seems Brit actors can either inject extreme class or villainy, depending upon the context. We have seen Hollywood importing Brit actors whenever the characters demanded it. So, it’s not surprising that brands have begun to hop on to the bandwagon as well.

For Budweiser, Dame Helen Mirren is someone who epitomises class yet delivers the message effectively. And when she speaks in her posh British accent, she makes the rest of us seem well… silly. This is a good piece of casting because the subject is ‘Drink responsibly’ and when you hear a posh British aristocrat – even if she is of the cinematic variety – remonstrate with you, it feels right. I do not know how many grown-up American men will pause to swig before they head out on the roads tonight, but I am quite sure they will remember that stern voice in the back of their heads.

CPG brands have a good time

Pepsi’s Mountain Dew Kickstart had me chuckling with its animated monkey plugging the virtues of its product offering. The “Puppy Monkey Baby” refrain is a clever device to plug the three ingredients that go into the making of the product. If I had to pick one, this would be my top favourite of the season.

The Heinz ketchup commercial which seems to be the current favourite amongst those voting is another visually interesting idea. Featuring a bunch of weiner dogs dressed up as hot dogs, they race into the arms of their humans dressed up as mustard and sauce. Almost certain to make audiences go awwwww.


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