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From the big game to commercials and the food, Super Bowl Sunday always brings a lot of excitement to the employees of Martino Flynn. We asked our experts to recap the commercials that aired during Super Bowl 51 and share “Our Take” on this year’s spots.
John Marianetti, executive producer
Every year there is great hype and anticipation surrounding the new Super Bowl spots and every year I seem to be left feeling slightly underwhelmed. I think that most brands just try too hard to make their spots memorable.
I prefer the simpler, yet flawlessly executed, spots. As much as I really enjoyed the cinematic styles and almost mini-feature-like qualities of Budweiser’s, “Born the Hard Way”, 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins,” and Pepsi’s “Life Water”, I was equally impressed by the simple, conceptual approach of the Skittles “Romance” spot. Good TV commercials don’t always equate to big budgets or complicated productions.
And when you cast Justin Timberlake reacting to Christopher Walken’s spoken word performance of NSYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” for Bai, well that’s just gold from a branding and name retention perspective. It’s hard to imagine anyone drinking a bottle of Bai without singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” out loud!
Tim Downs, executive creative director
Initial observation: I was struck by how many advertisers chose to address some of the issues that are currently affecting our country today. While there were plenty of ads that were entertaining and used humor to gain consumers’ goodwill, it’s the advertisers who used their spots to align themselves with bigger issues that stood out for me.
My favorites being the Audi spot that addressed women’s rights in a great storytelling way. And Budweiser—while still self-serving—acknowledged the role of immigrants in our country. The Honda yearbook spot not only employed great production techniques, but delivered an uplifting message.
As advertising professionals, we preview a lot of the spots online and read many trade articles analyzing them. For each spot, we break down the marketing strategy, the production techniques and special effects, art direction, and the copy. It makes it somewhat difficult to view the commercials objectively—as a pure consumer.
So as a consumer, I appreciated those spots that used humor and entertainment in a relevant way. I thought advertisers that reinforced their brands well and in interesting ways were Bai, Coca-Cola, and Mercedes Benz. All of them demonstrated that they understood their audiences and, more importantly, how their brands relate to them.
At the end of the day, what resonated with me were the spots that combined great storytelling, awesome production, and a message that was relevant to current social issues and their brand.
Matt D’Angelo, digital creative director
I think the pinnacle of creative, widely engaging Super Bowl spots are in the past. The annual Super Bowl broadcast is a huge global stage where advertisers can really flex their muscles, but I have to say that this year the spots were a bit weak. I’m looking for some really sharp comedy, a clever twist, a super catchy jingle, or a deeply moving humanity piece. In light of our current political and social climate, the low-hanging fruit were spots leaning on cultural diversity. It seemed like a lot of brands jumped on that bandwagon— although, some were more creative than others.
While there were no “Wow” moments, raucous laughter, or tear-jerkers in my viewing experience, I did enjoy Ford’s “Go Further” spot. Set to the tune of Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and narrated by Bryan Cranston, the commercial is a bit sappy, but it did the trick. Ford will help us “Go Further” and make our lives “faster, easier and better” in the future.
I’m a sucker for fail videos. If done right, there’s a charm in showing the limits of humanity. I liked this spot for the simple tune and a nice payoff on how Ford is there for its customers. It’s not a groundbreaking spot, but it is one that’s cute and replayable—kind of in the vein of the Humans campaign from Liberty Mutual.
Jenny LePore, public relations and social media senior account supervisor
I’m all about good storytelling; I love when a brand not only draws in your attention through a compelling storyline, but also pulls at the heartstrings. Brands take big financial risks when they opt for the “soft sell,” but when it works, oh man, does it work. When Audi boldly took on the gender pay inequality issue in its 60-second “Daughter” Super Bowl ad, it did just that.
From a PR perspective, Audi made its brand relevant by associating itself with one of the most significant social issues of today. “Daughter” addresses the challenges that many parents face when it comes to discussing issues such as, the gender pay gap and provides a solid metaphor for what can happen inside the workplace. As a working mother of two daughters, I have to say this topic hits close to home.
The best part is that Audi continued to engage its target audiences beyond its TV spot through its #driveprogress hashtag and its YouTube page where it noted that “a 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that women were paid 21% less than men on average.” Props to Audi for thinking this through in terms of digital integration and, of course, for keeping the conversation alive.
While critics argue that Audi took the soapbox theme too literally or, worse, called out Audi for only having two female top executives, it’s important that these conversations happen from a cultural level. Plus, here we are, post-Super Bowl 51, still talking about it. Are we talking about the latest car? No, but for many, they now have a new emotional connection to the progressive-luxury brand. And if you know anything about successful branding, emotional connections often lead to true brand loyalty.
Well done, Audi.