Super Bowl Ad Review – Cultural Moments And Building Brands
I like football.
But I love advertising.
So, when it comes to the Super Bowl, I actually do prefer watching the ads to the game. I found this out about myself years ago, when I would unconsciously shush people when the ads came on, but gab away during the game action.
Super Bowl ads became a big deal because the game became a big deal. With so many eyeballs glued to the TV, the desire to get a product, brand, service, etc. in front of a massive group of people was too good to pass up for brands.
The result is a Super Bowl of advertising, where the best agencies and the biggest brands come together to create content that becomes the most memorable, talked about, and engaging.
Not every partnership yields great results, though. Some ads are total misses (your ingredients are fresh, Wendy’s… we get it).
But some resonate.
The best ads explore the cultural issues of the moment while shilling product in a way that breaks through a lot of clutter.
Let’s briefly explore the ads that resonated, and the brands we’ll remember in a week.
Audi – “Daughter
[voiceover] “Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?”
A great, jarring, convicting line of copy. The agency, Venables & Bell, should be proud. Especially after also having the best ad of 2016 (The Duel).
Daughter attacks cultural inequality head on and sets up the problem very well… as the young girl is weaving in and out of cars on her way to a racing victory.
The payoff for this ad is perfect. Audi elevated the quality of the driving experience with the reveal of the vehicle (holding it to the last seven seconds), and then elegantly proved that a high quality car like that deserves to be driven by everyone equally.
A powerful culture statement meshed seamlessly with a powerful brand ad from the car company.
The emotional benefit of this ad is coaxing you into thinking that if you value yourself as great, then an Audi is for you.
That is brand advertising done well.
Honda – “Yearbooks”
[voiceover] “Here’s to chasing dreams and all of the amazing places they lead.”
This ad has imagination, humor, vulnerability (some of those pictures… yikes!), and good brand building.
Honda is a smart brand because it knows what it is. Honda knows you don’t save your entire life to own a Honda one day (that’s what Audi is for).
Honda delivers a great car that is so good it’s often handed down to kids learning how to drive. It’s survived entire families learning how to drive, and kept on ticking.
It’s the car you can reach 250,000 miles on confidently… if you’re patient enough. It is the car you drive while you’re thinking of your dreams, and often while you’re chasing them.
An aspirational idea that is appropriate for a good brand ad.
The execution of this ad was the best of the night – bar none.
I mean, it’s one thing to get the actual yearbook photos of celebrities and other successful people to talk in a believably animated way. The impressiveness mounts as the ad plays, with the characters interacting with other images on the page.
Animating all of those images is PAINSTAKING from a production standpoint. Hours and hours of work on a handful of frames. Not to mention the clever writing.
This Super Bowl featured a LOT of car ads, and even more non-car ads. But few were memorable or meaningful.
Except, in my view, one.
H&R Block – “Future”
[voiceover] “Creating a future where every last deduction and credit is found.”
This ad is about the future, but especially how the future is now for you, the taxpayer.
We’ve heard about Watson for a few years now, but H&R Block is leveraging it to help you pay as few taxes as possible.
For many, the desire to trust technology takes a backseat when the technology can save them on their tax bill. This simple insight is what this entire ad is built around.
And why it works.
The complexity of a subject matter like advanced computing, boiled down to single, simple thought, is what makes this ad effective.
I want to hear your thoughts, too! When you write, answer these two questions:
- Which ad was the best piece of creative thinking you saw?
- Which ad will sell the most stuff?
For the best ads, those answers are the same.