By: Joel Lugar, Senior Copywriter
Another Super Bowl has come and gone, and with it, another round of insanely expensive advertising. As advertisers ourselves, it is our job to pay close attention to these commercials and have strong opinions about them, thus displaying our irrefutable passion for this industry. Or something like that.
Personally, I’ve written many Super Bowl scripts during my career. Dozens, even. Sadly, due to the egregious judgement of past superiors and clients, along with the vengeful nature of more than a few gods, none of these quite excellent scripts were ever produced. However, I’m still declaring myself an expert on Super Bowl spots. I mean, Roger Ebert was an expert on movies, right?
Overall, the offering of ads this year was a little disappointing—and yes, it feels like I say that every year, and it’s starting to sound like the tired, annual critique of Saturday Night Live. But I mean it this time. There was not a single commercial that will be remembered for years to come as “One of the Greats.” There was no “God Made a Farmer” or “Puppy/Horse Friendship” in this batch.
What there was, however, was controversy. Fueled, no doubt, by the current state of political affairs. A few ads have been getting a lot of buzz based purely on their perceived political nature. Audi’s spot was about equal pay for women, which doesn’t really seem like it should be controversial, but somehow, a lot of viewers saw it as a personal attack against them. Budweiser spun a yarn of their humble beginnings with the story of an immigrant in pursuit of the American Dream—this also wouldn’t seem controversial in most years, but tensions are a little high these days. And then 84 Lumber had their own immigration story, only it seemed based on the more illegal variety.
Sure, these commercials made some people upset, even calling for boycotts. But, you can’t say that these companies didn’t get their money’s worth in publicity—which is a major goal of this whole exercise to begin with.
A lot of spots went for humor, and a couple succeeded. Skittles’ tale of youthful romance was my favorite. T-Mobile’s spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey with Kristen Schaal was a close second.
Like every year, some spots featured celebs just for the sake of having celebs. I’ve always felt that if you have a celebrity in your commercial and feel the need to awkwardly say their name so that everyone knows who they are and that you paid big bucks for their appearance, then you’ve wasted your big bucks. But, one celeb-driven ad was very good, and that was Honda’s yearbook spot.
My favorite ad was at the tail end of the Super Bowl. In fact, it was shot and edited while the game was being played. Beautifully directed by Peter Berg on an American army base in Poland, Hyundai reunited overseas soldiers with their families to watch the game in a unique way. Three soldiers each sat in their own room with a 360° view of the game, while “next to them” via the video screens were their families. Special cameras were installed in the seats surrounded by the soldiers’ relatives at the actual Super Bowl, and they all watched the game together. The spot was heartwarming, groundbreaking and a welcome about-face from Hyundai’s mostly celebrity-focused campaign from a year ago. Of all the commercials that played on Sunday, this is the one that I most wish I had made myself.
As a final note, check out a great example of how to take advantage of the Super Bowl buzz when you can’t afford to advertise during the actual game. Cards Against Humanity’s tongue-in-cheek mea culpa over their disastrous “Super Bowl ad” is a starchy delight. This is the kind of content that every PR department should aspire to create.
Until next year, I’m supermodel Miranda Kerr—I mean, senior copywriter Joel Lugar, and this has been a Super Blog.