Our Thoughts On The Big Game

Posted on February 05, 2018

Brands Put Best Foot Forward With Resounding Unity
Message in Super Bowl LII Commercials

With the average airtime for a Super Bowl ad costing $5 million for the third year in a row, advertisers and brands are again putting their best foot forward to make the most of their money. Thanks to the divisive nature of American politics over the past year, this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads sought to bring us together for a laugh while shunning divisiveness and controversial topics.

Brands created self-aware ads that relied on cleaner humor and celebrities, rather than the usual crop of sexual innuendo and slapstick comedy that has dominated Super Bowl ads in the past.

Playing it Safe with Unity

Babies. First responders. Overcoming adversity. Themes generally loved by the entire populous. This year, more Super Bowl ads than ever played it safe using these groups to create common ground in a clearly divided country.

Budweiser went all in with unity messaging this year, nixing their usual puppies and Clydesdales. In light of several high-profile natural disasters, Budweiser instead showed how they send water to communities hit the hardest this year. Featuring a bottling plant manager who comes in late one night to start bottling water instead of beer, this timely spot highlighted the work that’s been done (and still needs to be done) in communities impacted by natural disasters.

One brand who didn’t play it safe (and suffered) was Ram Trucks. In a bold move, Ram overlaid their commercial with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 “I Have a Dream” speech. Though the speech promotes a sentiment of unity and working hard to achieve your dreams, using the late Reverend’s speech to sell trucks just seemed…wrong. Social media backlash was swift, with The King Center (a nonprofit founded by King’s wife, Coretta) tweeting that they were in no way affiliated with the commercial or the use of the Reverend’s speech to sell trucks.

Humor & Self-Awareness

 One way brands garnered attention during Super Bowl LII was by becoming self-aware, poking fun at themselves or “typical” methods of advertisements.

An excellent example of this comes from Jeep. They shun the idea of “manifestos,” those ads full of dramatic angles, quick takes, aerial shots and more (of which Jeep has done plenty). Jeep’s anti-manifesto was a lot more straightforward, featuring a single Wrangler fording a deep stream. But off-roading is the Wrangler’s claim to fame, and this one-take spot does an excellent job highlighting that in a simple way, while poking a bit of fun at over-dramatized car ads in the process.

Another example of self-awareness came from Tide’s “It’s a Tide Ad” spot. Each ad starts off like an ad for something else: a car, beer, or diamonds, for example. But each time, it turns out to be a Tide ad. This cleverly done spot takes typical Super Bowl ad stereotypes, and turns them around to work for Tide. It also drives home how important your detergent is: whether you’re a mom or a mechanic, clean clothes are a part of your everyday life.

Influencer Marketing

Though nothing new, there were several examples of influencer marketing that worked well and tied into other themes from this year’s Super Bowl.

In Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spots, several celebrities have to “replace” the voice of Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa. Featuring well-known celebrities like Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay and Rebel Wilson all acting like, well, themselves, Amazon hit the influencer marketing nail on the head with something for nearly every demographic to like. This is also one of the few ads that dared be a little risky, featuring some “dirty” talk from Rebel Wilson in a bathtub and the ubiquitous “bleep” from Gordon Ramsey.

Tying this advertisement into social media, Gordon Ramsay gave #AskAlexa a shoutout on Twitter. Playing heavily on the influencers’ personalities, “Alexa Loses Her Voice” scored #1 on USA Today’s list of Super Bowl ads.

What Wasn’t There

Celebrities weren’t absent during this year’s Super Bowl, but a certain type of humor was. If you watch closely (or maybe not-so-closely), you’ll notice that there was very little sexual innuendo, or raunchy humor, and no scantily clad females to be seen. Not unusual for daytime television, but certainly out of the ordinary for the Super Bowl.

It’s clear that for Super Bowl LII, the main focus was unity. Brands dialed back on inappropriate humor, and ads that objectify women. They brought in celebrities to make us laugh, often about the brand itself. Instead of selling products, some brands instead sold hope, showing how they’re working to improve the world

About Scoppechio

Founded in 1987 and one of the nation’s leading independent agencies, Scoppechio is a full-service omnichannel marketing services provider located in the heart of the Louisville business district. With billings of over $225 million and more than 175 employees, it serves a broad client portfolio that includes Brown-Forman, Darden Restaurants, Yum! Brands, Gold Star Chili, Coney Island, GE Appliances, LG&E and KU Energy, Baptist Health, Community Health Systems (CHS) and more. In addition to its headquarters in Louisville, Scoppechio office locations include Cincinnati, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio. For additional information, visit Scoppechio.com