Ah, Super Bowl Sunday. It’s our industry’s Super Bowl. Literally. And with such an awful football game yesterday, it was really our chance to shine.
And we kind of blew it.
There were a few winners, but the collection of truly great work just wasn’t there this year. It’s something not only the ad geeks noticed, but my general social feeds were disappointed as well. We see funnier ads on the daily from giants like Geico and State Farm. Yet, Geico didn’t even run a new commercial, just that pig getting his license again.
So let’s take a quick look at the winners, the flops and those who may have outsmarted the rest.
Radio Shack – The 80s Called
Brilliant. It was open, honest, and not only did the storyline connect with its audience, so did the 1980s characters. Who do you think Radio Shack’s target audience is? It’s the Millennials and Generation X members who watched all of those characters evolve, along with technology. Anyone who has ever stepped into a Radio Shack also knows that the company’s stores are kind of like walking into a pawn shop, or maybe that creepy dude’s shop from The Brave Little Toaster.
Radio Shack is most likely to see a lift from its ad, too. It presented an entirely new and modern store that this group will actually consider visiting when in need of a dongle for the latest whatever. Or just to see if Alf is still there, hanging out.
T-Mobile – No Contract
The Tim Tebow commercial was brilliant. It had a consistent theme and story, everyone already loves to talk about Tim Tebow (for better or for worse), and it was just freaking funny. The brand’s message was also reinforced later with another hilarious Tebow commercial where he saves puppies from being in yet another lame Budweiser ad.
T-Mobile was among the few that chose to have a strong line and/or hashtag. #NoContract was a hashtag that actually made sense. So many of the commercials had what probably felt like clever hashtags at the time, but there was just no way anyone could be expected to remember that.
Newcastle – If We Made It
The most impressive effort of the entire Super Bowl was the company that opted not to drop $133,000 per second on ads, but talk about what would happen if they did. Newcastle out performed its competitor Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser Busch dropped about $30 million on ad space. Newcastle? That depends on their agency’s going rate. Their cost was the creative and the social media ads they placed, and that’s it.
Newcastle took the approach of releasing a video about how they would make a “sexy but tasteful” commercial about a beach party with “party sharks in a conga line” and “evil, hyper-intelligent apes” that destroy everything and an evil robot attacks, but it’s not CGI, it would have been a “real, crazy-expensive robot.” But WAIT! The group is rescued by cats who hit one of the ape’s “in the junk with a bottle of Newcastle.”
Whew, what a mouthful. But it’s pure brilliance. It’s hilarious and built for the Internet’s love of quirk.
And it got even better. Newcastle released “How we would have made it” ads about everyone else’s ads all night, a move that’s impressive, but doable considering every brand on Earth likes to blow the surprise and release their ads early now. The YouTube videos have well over half a million views on YouTube, which is double some of the others that actually aired during the game.
The company’s social profiles really benefitted, getting serious traction. On Twitter the company picked up nearly 4,000 followers just yesterday. On Facebook, 7.6 percent of Newcastle’s fans were talking about the product, versus Bud Light’s lowly 3.9 percent. Bud Light spent millions, and only 4 percent of its Facebook fans care to note? No bollocks about it, Newcastle got the most bang for its buck.
Budweiser – Puppy Love
This ad was effective in the sense that it did reach the masses. Prior to Sunday, it was the ad I was seeing the most in industry email blasts and random social shares. The YouTube video has 38 million views, so in terms of viewership, sure, it succeeded. But I was disappointed with the creative behind this ad. Yeah yeah, puppies and horses, they’re cute. But the companionship angle was played up last year with the horse running back to its owner. Now that was a great spot, and maybe if Budweiser hadn’t done that last year, I’d say this was a great effort. But it felt like Budweiser was just trying to carbon copy last year’s success.
I was also rather turned off by Budweiser’s patriotic ad. It felt too forced, considering the only thing American about the company now is that it’s sold here. Anheuser Busch was bought out by InBev years ago, so tugging on heart strings with US soldiers just doesn’t fit. Some have taken a similar jab at Chrysler for the Bob Dylan spot (Chrysler is owned by Fiat), but that ad actually felt less forced because it was giving a tip of the hat to the American workers that still build these cars. If Anheuser Busch had taken Chrysler’s route, I would feel differently, but there is a stark difference in the two approaches.
Many brands tried to capitalize in the way that Newcastle did, and be the next Oreos (remember: “You can still dunk in the dark.”). JCPenney was under fire last night for its mittens gimmick, but I say no harm no foul. They got themselves into the conversation, got some social recognition from brands much larger than theirs, and over what? Mittens. It was fun, cut them some slack.
Mark Palmer and I were Tweeting at the #LouAdBowl last night, check it out. We also want to hear which spots were your favorites. If you’re fired up because I said Budweiser isn’t American, or think the Bob Dylan commercial was garbage, or thought bringing Tim Tebow back into the public spotlight was a detriment to society, let us know on Twitter or Facebook.