Monday, February 6, 2017

A Review of the #Ads from #SuperBowl51

Super Bowl 51 may easily go into the history books as the best in history with its overtime surprise win, but if you live and breathe marketing and branding, the ads are the day’s focus. With a staggering cost of $5 million for 30 incredibly short seconds, is it possible for a brand to tell its story effectively and memorably? Were there any ads that rivaled Apple’s 1984 ad or Oreo’s Tweet during the 2013 power outage? Bottom line, can YOU recall any of the ads?

According to Landor Associates, "Here are three tips to help you, your dad, or even your football-crazed grandma decide which brands scored a touchdown with their commercials: Is the ad on-brand? Will you remember the brand tomorrow? And, does the ad speak to the times?”

During the game, Jim Joseph of Cohn and Wolfe in New York hosted the #SuperBowlExp party on Twitter (minus chips and guacamole). Although it's always fun to see what fellow branding and marketing folks say about the ads in real time, there are a couple of challenges. First, some ads run in regional or local markets, so there were some instances that Tweets referenced ads I didn’t see. Second, there are so many hashtags that draw attention to the ads that it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up. In addition to Jim’s party, there were these hashtags that I followed: #BrandBowl, #AdBowl, #SuperBowlAds, and #whartonfoa.

For a complete recap of my Tweets during the #SuperBowlExp chat party, visit my Storify link:

This year, many brands and brand icons were noticeably absent. There were no Oreos, M&Ms, polar bears wearing scarves featuring the colors of the competing teams, or the entire group of Clydesdales with their pal, the adorable Dalmatian. This year, politics was in the air. According to New York Senator Chuck Schumer, “Great Super Bowl ads this year. Shows the country moving the right direction, pro-women, pro-environment, pro-immigrant, pro-diversity.” Without further ado, here were my five favorite ads:

AUDI – A father and daughter were featured with the theme of #EqualPayForEqualWork and #DriveProgress. While some viewers complained about the ad afterward by stating that the company has an all-white male Board of Directors, the critical issue is that equal pay for equal work must be implemented before women will earn a place in the C-Suite and Board room.

BUDWEISER – During a national and international time of immigration crisis, this ad pushed the envelope. Adolphus Busch came to America in 1857, and during his lifetime built an enduring brand, the King of Beers. America represents open doors and opportunity around the world – and always will. Most of us are hail from immigrants – something we must remember. Allegedly this ad was created quite some time ago, but in the current economic climate, the irony was not lost on anyone.

AIRBNB – In an uncertain and troubling political climate full of protests, demonstrations, and political disagreements, AirBnB presented an ad with a powerful and uplifting statement that, no matter where you live, who you love, or what you believe in, the answer is #WeAccept.

KIA – Comedienne Melissa McCarthy appeared as an Eco Warrior tasked with saving the planet. She saved trees, whales, rhinos, and icebergs while simultaneously introducing the new Kia Niro vehicle. Her hashtag was #SmarterWay, and her humor was contagious.

TIFFANY AND CO – This ad featured half-time entertainer Lady Gaga as she talked about being a rebel, being true to herself, determining her own direction, and creating change. Tiffany jewelry has been a timeless brand, always unique – and representative of Gaga’s themes. Created in black and white and without any color, this ad was a good representation of rebellion combined with beauty.

To answer Landor Associates’ questions, these five ads were totally on brand – true to their core brand promises. I will remember the ads, and, all were incredibly timely – just recall Senator Schumer’s comments.

If you’d like to see some stats about how the ads rated, here are some links:

USA AdMeter:

Kellogg School’s Super Bowl Advertising Review:

AdWeek Tracker and Roster of All Ads:

Don’t forget to check out Jim Joseph’s post on Huffington Post:

If you need a Budweiser Clydesdale fix, here’s a link to their party via the #ClydesdaleCam on Periscope:

And lastly, this ending appeared in my post last year, but it’s just as appropriate this year. Jacques de Cock, a faculty member at the London School of Marketing, said the game will have been watched in half of US households. "The Super Bowl is a phenomenon unsurpassed in the world. It is one of the few national social events, which is also why social media traffic during the game is so high...What is also remarkable is that advertising is not viewed as something to skip, but is seen by 77 percent of viewers as part of the entertainment and therefore more watched and engaged with than any other television advertising during the year."

So, are you counting the days to Super Bowl 52? Will that mean a trip to freezing cold Minnesota or simply tuning in to watch and critique the ads?

Today's post-Super Bowl game Instagram share.

Image Credit: Thanks to Tom Fishburne for use of his cartoon at the top of this post. Tom is the Founder and CEO of Marketoon Studios, a content marketing studio that helps businesses reach their audiences with cartoons. Check out his work at