Super Bowl Ads, a Play by Play

We’re live reviewing standout ads from the 2017 Super Bowl. Keep checking back & we’ll update this page as the game rolls on…

Ford’s Stuck Ad: Effective & Enjoyable

What a way to start the game. This ad is a can’t-help-but-smile-at-it example of how to beautifully and effectively leverage the power of story and humor.

Ford taps into our collective experience with layer upon layer of often amusing and familiar examples of people getting stuck – from the stopped chairlift to the locked out dog owner to the kid with his head wedged in a Big Wheel. (“Mooooooommmmm?!”)

The examples are sweetly textured in their humanity; as such, deeply engaging; and clear yet lighthearted in their message: no one likes to be stuck.

The resulting examples of Ford’s work to keep us unstuck are intermixed with the freeing conclusions of some of the ad’s central characters’ stories. Yet even as exciting, high tech, more slick Ford technologies are interwoven, they are not set in contrast so much as presented as parallel in their human context.

It’s effectively and beautifully done.

Bonus points for the cat with its head stuck in a Kleenex box. Just more proof that cats are still the most effective advertisers out there.

Click here to see the Ford ad.

Google Home: A Good Lesson for Marketing the New

As in, tie it to the old and familiar.

Google has a technology that people need to be convinced to adopt – not just a product that people need to be convinced to choose. Here, they do a good job of focusing their entire ad around familiar, comforting situations that take place in our homes.

The messaging carries a tone of safety, ease, and comfort – rather than one of a machine listening to your every word, parsing your requests into big data that large corporations can use to target you, and who knows what else. It’s a smart approach, and, although not breakthrough or particularly incredible, it works and is worth learning from.

Click here to see the Google Home Super Bowl ad.

Mobile Strike Ad: A Waste of Airwaves

Is this just proof that Mobile gaming is so popular that they don’t even need to invest any thought or effort in their advertising? Or did they just forget that their deadline to deliver creative was coming up, so the day the network called and asked where the ad was, they said, “Oh no! Let’s just use that spot we had Arnold do as a gag for the company Christmas party.”

You might not want to waste your time clicking here to see the Mobile Strike Ad.

Skittles Making Us Want Skittles

I wish I had something brilliant and insightful to say about the Skittles romance the rainbow ad, but I have no idea what is going on with this one. One tweet I saw mentioned that after missing the first few seconds, she thought it was an ad for hallucinogenics.

What I will say is that it makes me want some Skittles. Now, that probably tells you a lot more about their product developers than it does about their marketers, but when you have something that delicious to work with, hey… ride the rainbow.

Click here to watch the Skittles ad (and have your Skittles at the ready).

World of Tanks Makes an Effort

I get that these gaming apps want to appear low fi, but at least World of Tanks manages to do this without also being boring.

Sometimes a little creative effort is all you need to stand out in your industry.

Click here to watch one of the World of Tanks ads.

Michelob Ultra Nails Belonging

Human beings have an inherent desire for community – a fact which has not been lost on smart advertisers. To leverage our desire for belonging, marketers take advantage of social proof, viral marketing, and – in the case of advertising – the good old tactic of pulling on our heartstrings.

Here, Michelob Ultra – a beer that is specifically targeted to a health-conscious audience (despite the fact that the product itself is not as strongly differentiated as its marketers would like you to believe – although this type of highly specific and not necessarily sensible differentiation is true of many beer brands, and is more an indication of the beverage industry’s marketing muscle and expertise than anything else), makes a strong play for those very heartstrings.

In addition, it is an expertly executed ad with notes of altruism and human kindness (notes that have appeared in many Super Bowl ads this year – great to see!).

Click here to Watch the Michelob Ultra ad.

C’mon, SPAM

Talk about a brand that had every opportunity to reinvent itself – to make us laugh, to capitalize on its inherent hipster retro appeal, to do something innovative and create a new era in its branding.

Instead, they talked about frying SPAM. Riveting.

Not to get too technical here, but the mistake they made was that they produced a feature-focused ad rather than thinking about the big picture feeling that they want to evoke. Missed opportunity for sure.

Fortunately, I’m not currently able to find a quick link to one of these SPAM ads. So we can all be spared from that reminder of what it’s like to be on unentertained and unamazed.

Laugh Out Loud Honorable Mentions

I’m keen for anything that makes me laugh. So just for that, I have to give a thumbs up to…

The T Mobile ad with Snoop and Martha Stewart.

The Bai ad with Christopher Walkin and Justin Timberlake.

The Overall Lesson

A big lesson that I think any small business can learn from this year’s Super Bowl ads is that there is always opportunity in current events. Time and again, I see that time-sensitive, tie-in content is most effective at getting eyeballs and engaging audiences.

Right now, in our country, we are in a period of upheaval. Tensions are high and people feel disconnected and at odds with one another.

This year’s Super Bowl advertisers channeled that situation into encouraging, inspiring, story-driven advertisements focused on the inherent goodness of mankind.

It is a message that we are all thirsty for, and one that feels timely – even in the (many) cases where the ads did not get into political specifics but simply pointed to the resulting emotional needs that we all have during this time.

An uplifting theme, at the end of the game.

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