02.06.2018

How Marketers Can Learn From Super Bowl Ads


By Brandee Johnson


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Over 100 million people tune in each year to watch the biggest game in professional football. But let’s be honest,  many just tune in to watch the commercials. Marketers know that and every year they have to tune into what’s going on in the world, channel creativity, and put out their very best efforts with the hopes of cashing in and selling products. At $5 million per 30-second spot, the stakes are high. As marketers, we love watching and talking about the year’s best commercials, and a few that missed the mark.

 

Amazon - Alexa Loses Her Voice

Amazon pulled out all the stops in this commercial where celebrities replace the voice of the Alexa. Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins each took over and showed what life would be like if Alexa wasn’t there to help us. This was one of the most comical Super Bowl commercials and it captivated the audience as we waited to see what new celebrity would be thrown in the mix of wanna-be Alexas.


Takeaway: Amazon, formerly known as a box pusher, has really transitioned into using branded content marketing to drive sales. If your company currently focuses on selling product instead of the brand, consider a branded content project in 2018.


Diet Coke - Twisted Mango

The commercial opens to a woman cracking open a can of the new Diet Coke Mango and dancing awkwardly, saying “I don’t know. Mango does.” This ad left a lot of viewers confused and feeling like Diet Coke made an attempt to reach the millennial audience and failed. It may have had more of an appeal if they had used a more well-known actress or had a deeper storyline. Sadly, awkward dancing doesn't really do the trick at the Super Bowl.

Takeaway: While we understand marketing to millennials because they have buying power, trying too hard rarely succeeds. Be genuine and thoughtful in your marketing to all generations.


Doritos and Mountain Dew - Fire and Ice

Doritos and Mountain Dew teamed up to make a two-part commercial about their new products, the spicy Blaze chip and Mountain Dew Ice. Peter Dinklage walks across a grand, castle-like living area, dodging streams of fire and lip-syncing to Busta Rhymes while munching on some Blaze Doritos. It ends with the bag of chips and the hashtag #Spitfire. In the next scene, Morgan Freeman does the same thing in a similar room, only this one is icy and frozen.  Freeman sips Mountain Dew Ice while lip-syncing to a Missy Elliot song and the sister commercial ends the same way, with a bottle of Mountain Dew and the hashtag #IceCold.

This partnership is a win in our book. It was incredibly funny, entertaining and unexpected. The products were clearly shown and well explained. This ad checked all of the boxes in our opinion.

Takeaway: Creativity is key. You can always expect something outrageous and funny out of Doritos and Mountain Dew because they push the bounds of creativity. Their commercials are bold and out-there. Don’t be afraid to try something different and incorporate social media to maximize reach.


Groupon- Who Wouldn’t

Groupon took advantage of the fact that comedian, actress and author Tiffany Haddish is in the top 1% of Groupon Customers since she signed up in 2013. Haddish told a side-splitting story on Jimmy Kimmel Live! about taking Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a swamp tour using Groupon, but unfortunately, only small population knows this story and sees the comedic potential in it.


Takeaway: Know your audience and know what they find interesting, funny or offensive. Jokes fall flat if you crack it in front of the wrong crowd and you can accidentally offend someone if you are ignorant to what gets under their skin.


Dodge- We Will Rock You

A Dodge Ram has a truck full of Vikings on a voyage to Minneapolis for the big game. Once they get to their destination and realize that the Minnesota Vikings are not in the Super Bowl, they turn around and head home. This commercial was a comical jab at Minnesota fans, but the ad fell flat. The story wasn’t told well and it wasn’t clear why the vikings had to turn around and go home. Had the message been explained better, this commercial would have been hilarious.

Takeaway: A marketer must relay their messages clearly and concisely. The best ideas can fall by the wayside if you’re not demonstrating them in the way that they deserve. Live by the motto of “Say it, say it again, and remind them what you said.”


Tide - This is a Tide Ad

Tide ran a four-part series of ads during the super bowl. They mock the typical approach that companies take with Super Bowl ads and end every scene with “This is a Tide ad.” The ad features Stranger Things actor, David Harbour, who plays the part perfectly. Each time the next portion of the commercial came on the screen, it was just enough time to forget about it and get tricked into thinking you were watching just another made-to-order Super Bowl ad. Harbour swoops in and reminds us that “This is a Tide ad” and the laughter quickly ensues.

Tide took full advantage of their four commercial spots with clever and well thought-out ads. Tide set the bar for Super Bowl commercial this year and we were not disappointed.

Takeaway: Be clever and creative in your marketing. Don’t stick to what everyone else is doing, or what has worked for you in the past. Be bold and unafraid to make your audience laugh, even if your product seems like the farthest thing from funny.


Chevrolet - Add It Up

Chevrolet used their Super Bowl commercial spot to run an ad that they’ve already been running since October. Yes, that’s right. Chevrolet paid $5 million to run an ad that we’ve already all seen. The commercial shows a focus group being informed about the benefits of the Chevrolet Equinox compared to its competitors. Spoiler alert: the focus group picks the Chevy.

Takeaway: If you’re going to spend the money on a big campaign, make your content worth it. You can spend your entire marketing budget and still not make a meaningful impression on your audience. Your content needs to be eye-catching, clever and memorable.


The 2018 Super Bowl commercials should teach us, as marketers, some very important lessons. Know your audience, educate yourself on the current trends, jokes and social climate, be creative and bold. When you get the opportunity to get your brand’s name out to a wide audience, you better make it good.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Brand Development

Brandee Johnson

Written by Brandee Johnson

Brandee Johnson is an avid marketing expert with a passion for helping businesses achieve growth through data-driven marketing programs. She believes in building marketing systems and starting with strategy before tactics.