Super Bowl Commercials: Puppies, Coca Cola and Marketing Trends

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Michiko Morales

As another Super Bowl comes and goes, and Americans spend their day celebrating (or crying over) another win for the Patriots, marketers and PR buffs alike are discussing more important things than that last Seahawks play (which clearly should have gone to Lynch for the run). We’re talking Super Bowl ads.

A commercial during this year’s Super Bowl cost roughly $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime. So for all of the companies reaching deep into their wallets to grab viewer’s attention, if only for a few seconds, what seemed to work best during this year’s Big Game?

Each year we see a slew of different advertising trends -from cute animals and scantily clad women to sports cars and celebrity appearances. But what’s truly resonating with the American public? What trends were marketers following this year and which worked – or maybe worked against – influencing their audience?

Hitting the Heartstrings…Hard.
As in past Super Bowl ads, marketers seemed to be going straight for our hearts this year with ads like Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” or Nissan’s “With Dad” bringing out the sentimental football lover in all of us. But how much emotion is too much for what should be a light-hearted sporting event?

Nationwide is getting a lot of attention via social media for their hard-hitting “Make Safe Happen” commercial – but not necessarily the good kind. Although the message behind the deep and depressing Super Bowl ad had the best intentions in mind, the general sentiment surrounding the commercial were extremely negative, and Nationwide saw the social media backlash roll in immediately. In fact, according to Infegy social media monitoring software, the #MakeSafeHappen hashtag generated roughly 9.1K conversations online during and after the game, but only 37% of the population felt positive about the ad.

Gender Equality.
A dark horse for Super Bowl subject matter, gender equality took center-stage this year with Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign generating a ton of positive feedback and quickly becoming the most talked about commercial of the night. Recognizing that girls’ confidence often takes a nose-dive during puberty, Always’ campaign attempts to change the preconceived notion of what ‘like a girl’ means, in an attempt to improve self-esteem in young women.

Personal care brand Dove also took a completely new – and wonderfully refreshing – approach to what “True Strength” means by portraying men throughout different stages of fatherhood. The campaign not only received great feedback for Dove, it also resonated with both the male and female demographics watching last night’s game.

Where’s the Product Placement?
Another trend that seemed to be puzzling audience members was the lack of traditionally over-promotional product placement. For such expensive advertisements, no one would blame companies for putting their brand front and center, but a shift in marketing seems to be doing the exact opposite.

Take, for example, BMW’s nostalgic “Newfangled Idea” ad featuring Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. Not until the very end of the commercial, are viewers told that they’re watching an advertisement for BMW. Marketers seem to be taking a story telling, emotion provoking method of promotion, over in-your-face branding. The real question is whether or not this resonates with the audience – something that only time (and potentially increased sales) will tell.

As for me, my favorite ad of the night came from Coca Cola. The soft drink company’s #MakeItHappy campaign had the perfect balance of branding, storytelling and, of course, happiness to pique consumer interest and leave viewers (including myself) with an overall feeling of positivity toward the company.

What were your favorite Game Day commercials? Tweet us @GabrielMrktg – we love hearing from you!

From the Blog

Leah Nurik