Good, Bad, or Ugly: Super Bowl Ads 2015

by Feb 3, 2015Advertising

Good, Bad, or Ugly: Super Bowl Ads 2015

by | Feb 3, 2015

After the nail-biter Super Bowl game on Sunday, we walked away feeling uplifted, humored, and sometimes mortified by the ads presented.  Most companies aren’t afraid to abandon everything their brand stands for to make the best, funniest, or most extreme commercial. But is this really worth it? We don’t think so. Companies paid over 4.5 million dollars to get their names in front of an entire nation.  Planning a commercial that will be memorable, stay true to your brand, and ultimately boost your sales is not easy.  Because, let’s remember, popularity doesn’t necessarily translate into profits.  

Let’s take a look at the creativity (or non-creativity) that graced the nation Sunday night.

Everyone Loves Puppies

TRENDING:  Heart-warming tales (or tails) of loyalty, honor, and commitment.

The biggest “Awww” of the night was brought to us by Budweiser and their precious puppy.  Although, we’re kind of wondering: are they making golden retrievers another brand symbol alongside the traditional Clydesdale horse?  Considering the popularity of this (and last year’s) commercial, we wouldn’t be surprised.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAsjRRMMg_Q

Father Knows Best

Dads were the major topic of the night.  Nissan, Toyota, and Dove brought us a heartfelt look at fatherhood, and we’re neither confirming nor denying that Toyota’s “My Bold Dad (below)” made some of us cry.  It had everything, including the waterworks at the end. It was very well directed, had great timing, and the ratio of flashbacks to current day shots being intertwined was spot on. This may seem subtle, but the emotional effect of this can be incredibly tricky to capture. If done poorly (like Nissan’s “With Dad”), it would have been confusing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un6uP6cykgo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bd1qCi5nSKw

While all these commercials were introspective, and we appreciate that, we can’t help but wonder what they have to do with … each company’s brand.  The best commercials stem from the values of a company.  If you’re going to spend millions of dollars, make sure your subject matter is deeply rooted in what your company really believes. Help the audience make the connection between what you’re showing and who you are. Don’t waste your money on cheap ploys. They’ll be quickly forgotten.

…And World Peace

Contrary to prior years, a majority of this year’s commercials were serious, with messages that cut to the heart of some of our nation’s biggest issues.  Some handled these with beautiful (if a little soppy) solutions … like pouring soda on your mainframe (great idea, Coca-Cola) to combat online bullying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgevyjvywLs

 McDonalds is allowing select customers to pay for their meals “with love.”  As sappy as that sounds, McDonalds was the top trending topic on Twitter Sunday night.  Why?  Well maybe because good ol’ McDs was also tweeting about all the other ads.  In accordance with their “Pay With Lovin” campaign, they gave away the other companies’ merchandise – asking users to “tweet” back to them for chances to win cars, movie passes, etc.!  Spread the love indeed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCmh8cBjUeM

Big Bummers

Some companies chose to hit their issues head on with a more somber approach.  The National Football League’s PSA featuring a 911 call brought to light the realities of domestic violence.

And Nationwide’s lighthearted childhood commercial turned reminiscent viewing into horrified stares as we realized that the adorable little guy who captured our attention is actually….dead.  The nation is up in arms about this commercial.  I mean, we get the point, but you didn’t have to smack us in the face with it.  However, this issue goes deeper than just, “That was a downer.”  First rule of public speaking: Know thine audience.  You’re talking to a bunch of football fans and their families.  Not to mention any families who may have actually lost children in a home accident.  It’s poor taste.  Furthermore, what are you, as an insurance provider, going to do about preventative safety?  “Your TV crushed your child, but we’re Nationwide, so we’ll replace your TV with a newer one!”  Really?  If you were a company that sold child-proofing tools, we might forgive the commercial.  If you’re going to deliver that kind of punch-in-the-gut content, you’d better be eating, sleeping, walking, and living it as a company.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRVslkan08U

Consider Yourself Empowered

In addition to their prominent product placement at the game, Microsoft released two commercials featuring two very inspiring stories.  We know that Microsoft was going for an “empowering” vibe, but unfortunately these commercials just lacked the spark that would have made them memorable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLXRt-qRBfU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cw4jmKQs0E

They could take a lesson from what’s being dubbed the top commercial of the night:  “Like A Girl” from Always. This spot challenges the societal messages that bombard young girls as they get older.  More importantly, it tackles an issue that hits close-to-come for the Always brand and its users.  It’s truth subtly declared, and we think it was masterfully done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

 Cars and Trucks

We also liked this Dodge commercial a lot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKKlqMs19tU

For the past couple months, Dodge has been rolling out commercials based on The Dodge Brothers and their “100 year race.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oicu39lda0E

During the Super Bowl, they showcased something a little edgier and different.  Dodge interviewed several different people who were all close to (or over) 100 years old sharing life advice and what they’ve learned. At the end, Dodge boasts that they’ve been around for 100 years…and here’s to the next 100.

For every good car commercial, there’s an equally bad one, and boy do we have one for you.  Oh, the commercial wasn’t all that bad – it just wasn’t theirs.  This concept was brilliant…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7LbPdzYrrE

when it was produced last year by NorthFace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tll-4WONtg0

On top of that, Jeep took the song written about America, applied it to the rest of the world, and encouraged us to “play responsibly” (showcasing their vehicles tearing up pristine terrane).  Jeep should’ve spent their budget hiring a team of creative people who could brainstorm an original idea.

Hilarious

It’s not the Super Bowl without the funny commercials, and this year boasted some pretty good ones.

Lindsey Lohan is “sorta” your mom:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGPTRmqgpYk

And Walter White is “sorta” your pharmacist:

Because avocados:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC5mLO81Vp4

God forbid our phones die:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuVsf_hE7gM

We’re not sure why this works, but:

http://youtu.be/Ha4k71AQqgA

So…a Fiat, huh:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAcLViTHDOo

We’re still not sure if Kimmy knows this one’s a joke

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzQ6a2UKlGM

Because BMW is the new internet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1jwWwJ-Mxc

Is Mindy invisible?

And now, the funniest ads (according to us):

Liam Neeson and Clash of Clans

Snickers and The Brady Bunch

Resound’s Super Bowl 2015 takeaways:     

Is 4.5 million dollars worth it?  Probably not.  Yes, nationwide visibility is fun, but you can gain that through brilliant content and a solid brand.  In today’s “sharing” culture, users have complete control over what content they see, and it’s up to companies to be creative and put out quality material.  A brilliantly-designed campaign will have way more impact than one commercial, so take your millions and use it in your own marketing budget.

This year was chock full of heartstring pulls.  While we appreciate the sentiment, these companies better make sure those things they’re claiming to stand for are central to their brand.  Don’t lie to your consumer base.  They can smell a gimmick from a mile away, and if your customers feel like you made them cry as a sales opportunity…. Let’s just say that it doesn’t end well.

Establish your brand values.  Let everything else stem from those.  Also:  Run the freakin’ ball.  

Your turn – which spots were your winners and losers and why?

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