The Best and Worst of Super Bowl 2015 Advertising

At $4 million for an advertising spot aired during the Super Bowl, many companies think they are producing a movie instead of an ad. The problem? They are spending so much time being clever, cute and funny, they have forgotten the purpose of the advertisement is to actually sell a product.

This year the Super Bowl advertising lineup was filled with animals. Cute puppies, sweet kittens, smart animated turtles and Clydesdale horses coming to the rescue. There were lots of car commercials, surprisingly few technology ads and a number of public service pieces which seemed heavy handed and out of place.

So who turned in award winning productions?

Supporting Actor: Buddy the White Lab

In a return performance, Buddy and his band of Clydesdale buddies charmed their way into our hearts. This year there was adventure and danger. Unfortunately, although Buddy made his way home, there is no happy ending for the star of the commercial, Budweiser Beer.

Buddy is so appealing, he completely upstaged the star. The only thing I wanted to rush out and buy after the ad was over was a white lab puppy.

Action Hero in a Comedy: The Little Blue Pill

The little blue pill kept us on the edge of our seats laughing out loud as he bounced and ricocheted through the streets. Unlike Buddy, this action hero’s adventure has a purpose. His job is to beef up the new Fiat making it faster, more powerful and attractive to women.

Kudos to the producer for drawing a straight line from the story to the product which actually has a featured performance in the commercial.

Post Production Fail: Dove Real Men

The ad starts out great with cute children and loving fathers. I thought they were on to something. Then in the last 20 seconds they jump to a grey screen with text and a static image telling men that caring makes them stronger. If the point wasn’t clear in the first 40 seconds, the static image at the end wasn’t going to sell it. This ad was one of a series of heavy handed, advertisement/public service messages which seemed out of place with the party atmosphere of the Super Bowl.

And the Winner Is: Brewed the Hard Way

The Super Bowl is a party. Most people are watching the game with friends. The rooms are noisy and upbeat so it is tough to break through the clutter and get noticed. It is even harder to do that and make a relevant point.

The hard pounding music gets your attention so you focus on the star of the commercial, the beer. They tell you  they aren’t making a product for everyone.

In this commercial Budweiser did just that as they poked fun at micro brews and pumpkin flavored beer. Their positioning comes through loud and clear, this is real beer for real men.  Are you one of them?

Why I love This Ad

Great marketing takes courage. To really speak to the heart of your target audience means you may offend people who aren’t your customers. In the age of playing it safe and hugging the middle, few brands are willing to draw a line in the sand and say, “This is who we are are and who we serve.” As a result, they don’t cultivate the loyalty which taking a stand creates.

The ad poked fun at people who are marginal drinkers of the product. It drew a range of negative comments on social media mostly because parent company Anheuser-Busch also owns micro breweries. The people the ad offended are not their target customers.

The ad was gutsy for Budweiser. And I love that they were willing to take a chance to speak directly to their core customers, validating their choice every time they buy a Bud. So what did Bud customers think?

They know this Bud is for them!



After the Game

Long after the game is over Pete Carroll is sure to think and rethink his decision to pass when he should have run, but I am guessing he won’t be alone. There will be many marketers who will be rethinking the $4 million investment in their advertising. So who do you think turned in an award winning production, and who passed when they should have run?