SBLII: Which Brands Scored Big and Who Went Home Empty Handed

While Philadelphia fans continue to celebrate an impressive win by the Eagles, marketers and advertisers are analyzing and ranking the commercials.

Pulling off a Super Bowl ad is no easy feat. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of eye balls, and a lot of dollars to consider. We reacted in real-time on Twitter to Super Bowl commercials as they aired, and we’re still talking about what we saw. There were some clear winners and some that missed the mark. Some brands tried to be funny, some pulled at heartstrings, and some went high budget. So who came out on top? These are the talk of the office at Empower right now:

Our number one pick: Tide

Tide played the long game with four spots throughout the evening. What started as a tongue-in-cheek question (Isn’t every ad a Tide ad?) morphed into a game-long ad campaign that brought in other brand spokespeople, such as Isaiah Mustafa and Mr. Clean, and poked fun at advertisers during the game in general — a type of self-awareness consumers enjoy because they feel in on the joke. By ambushing ads throughout the game, viewers were expecting every ad to be a Tide ad … even when they legitimately were for a competing product (sorry, Persil). Bonus: No one talked about eating any Tide Pods.

Tied for Second: Toyota and Verizon

Toyota came right out of the gate with a strong spot, “Good Odds,” featuring Canadian Paralympic skier Lauren Woolstencroft. The storytelling was spot-on, and we were all rooting for Lauren by the end of the ad. Taking its brand narrative outside of the expected parameters and hitting consumers in the heart was a bold move that paid off. Verizon also opted to go for the feels, while competitor Sprint went for humor. Verizon was the clear winner. The brand’s emotional “Answering the Call” spot featuring first responders being thanked by those they rescued not only struck an emotional chord with consumers, but also reinforced the brand promise of connectedness and dependability.

Third, but by no means last: Amazon

Alexa lost her voice, and laughs — not to mention star cameos galore — ensued. An appearance by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was also a smart move — again, viewers felt in on the joke when they recognized him. It’s like when Stan Lee appears in Marvel films. While the audience laughs along, the different uses for Alexa are showcased, making for an amusing workhorse.

Other Contenders

There were a variety of other strong contenders. Avocados from Mexico channeled Bio-Dome, while E*Trade parodied a catchy earworm. Doritos and Mountain Dew collaborated with well-known celebrities to create a “Song of Ice and Fire.” And we’d never put the NFL’s homage to “Dirty Dancing” in the corner; it made for an entertaining watch too.

Lost in the Clutter

Other brands got a little lost in the clutter. T-Mobile had a lot of babies, but it was not clear what it was selling. Febreze’s spot was funny but didn’t have the sticking power of the NFL spot. Budweiser’s ad, while well done, felt a bit more like a self-serving pat on the back than it should have.

Biggest Misses

The biggest miss of the night though was Dodge. Empower collectively cringed and so did the public. Perhaps it could have been avoided if Dodge had opted to release the ad prior to the game. Consumer reaction was swift and brutal. There are some subjects that should not be used to sell cars … or anything really. Martin Luther King Jr. 9/11. Gandhi. To name just a few. During brainstorms a lot of ideas get thrown around, but it was unfortunate for Dodge that this is the one that made it to the big game. Advertising and politics don’t mix well, as Pepsi learned the hard way in 2017. But hey, there’s always next year!

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