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Which Super Bowl Ads Were Super?


Last night, advertisers spent $385 million dollars in 51st annual championship of TV spots. Unless you are a major beverage, car or consumer packaged goods company, the $5 million you paid for a 30 second spot represents a huge chunk of your annual media budget. So who won? Who lost? Scroll down to read some musings from Team SCO.

Erik Snyder, Associate Director-Digital Strategy

Winner: 84 Lumber

This spot, presented by a woman-owned second-generation family business, wins for three reasons.

84 Lumber chose to leverage their spend (which is most of their annual ad budget) with a concept that would guarantee buzz for days. If you didn’t know who 84 Lumber was before, you will now, whether you agree with their political stance or not. It was gutsy, but worth the risk because…

They appeal directly to their target audience. Construction is the most common occupation for Hispanics and Latinos in the United States and the industry relies heavily on foreign-born workers. If there is negative backlash, it won’t come from the construction industry.

The spot itself is well produced with beautiful cinematography, talented actors, and takes the viewer on an emotional journey with hardly a word spoken. It shows exceptional creative vision and execution on the part of the agency, Brunner, as well as a trusting relationship between them and 84 Lumber. All parties involved should be celebrating today (except maybe IT, who didn’t properly anticipate the surge in traffic that knocked out their servers right after the spot ran).

Loser: Fiji Water

With ad costs at $160k per second, Fiji spent 2.4 million dollars to tell us that their water comes from…Fiji. Given the brand is in every grocery store nationwide and already known to most consumers, this was an entirely forgettable ad. The voice over could have been read from the back of the bottle and the video could have been stock for all we know. Especially when you only have 15 seconds to make a point, Fiji failed to deliver anything meaningful in what was a soft, safe, milquetoast ad better suited for YouTube pre-roll than the Superbowl.

Winning Runner Up: Bai

This spot made great use of star talent to inform us that yes, their product is pronounced bye, as in baby bye…bye…bye. Christopher Walken and Justin Timberlake are juxtaposed in a clever spot that even has time for an actual product pitch at the end. Bonus: this spot was produced in-house at Bai. Agencies beware.

Jen Roberts, Public Relations Director

A Year of History and Hope

This year’s Super Bowl ad line-up pulled on the heart strings, emanated nostalgia and yes, made us laugh. But, made us laugh in a positive way – there were no weird glances around the party wondering what a Puppy-baby-monkey was.

Anheuser-Busch took us on a trip through history, showing us that without immigration (the not-so-subtle overarching theme of 2017, and it’s only February), we would never know the King of Beers. Honda encouraged us to chase our dreams, and to pause for a moment to see how far we, and talented yet once-awkward celebrities, have come.

The advertisers that chose humor as the way to go significantly targeted the 35-year-old woman who 1) loved her some N’Sync and 2) saw Mr. Clean become a sex symbol before her very eyes.

The complete 84 Lumber journey was teed up to be the most anticipated spots of the evening, running only 60 seconds of the full 3:15 minute spot. It did what it set out to do: hook the viewer, tell a powerful story without words and then lead to the website to learn more. And we all did – so much so that the website took too long to download and many people had to check back later. But we did. And it did not disappoint.

The 84 Lumber spot taught us that no matter how long the journey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or a door that simply needs to be opened for the opportunity to being anew.

Michael Fimiani, Senior Digital Strategist

Through all the digital static, I took away two overarching themes: corporations went BIG/CINEMATIC and latched onto predictable political tensions. This felt cheap.

My favorite overall campaign took a different approach: Avocados from Mexico broke the mold by disarming toxic rhetoric with satirical humor, a slew of influencers and a rich digital treasure hunt. “This year, we wanted to turn storytelling into an interactive experience and bring Avocados from Mexico’s TV commercial to life on one digital platform,” said Aldo Quevedo, principal and creative director for Richards/Lerma. This quirky campaign featured a robust marketing campaign leading up to the Super Bowl, recruiting 100,000 brand ambassadors and generating nearly two BILLION social impressions (according to social reach).  They brought this vision to life through building a community around their product benefits, through recipes, nutrition, and beauty tips, which will last beyond a paid television ad. Not only am I craving guacamole, I learned something.

Aisha Ndlovu,  Associate Data Analyst


If there is something we can agree on as nation is that Verizon is notoriously known for its steep phone bills.

Illustrating to what lengths people will try and end their Verizon contracts, even if it means staged murder, Sprint positions itself as the saving grace.  Quick and to the point, I think Sprint did a stellar job.


Tipping a hat to a social issue, albeit controversial, I enjoyed the Audi commercial.

It had a girl (most people like kids), a wisp of nostalgia and a social message.  The ad hit the nail in wooing my emotions and I may not be able to afford an Audi now, but when I can, I’ll remember they support equal pay.

Kyle Higaki, Digital Strategist

People have become averse to spokespeople honking marketing messages, but Celebrity exists for a reason. They’re famous because the masses value how they’ve mastered their crafts. Cleverly, Honda has taken these people from the upper echelons of society and framed them (literally) in a relatable setting through a talking school yearbook photo. All of a sudden these rich, famous people become [GASP!] normal people. Normal young people. Normal young people…with dreams.

The ad didn’t talk about the awards Honda has won. It doesn’t reference best-in-class gas mileage, storage capacity or…anything Honda at all, really.

It told stories and showed quirks. It reminded everyone watching that they’re just people who followed and achieved dream. Yes, real people despite their celebrity.

The aspirational message lives on a separate plane from the product until the end, where the two components are married. Even there, it avoids the corny, low-hanging fruit of telling the consumer that Honda can help you realize your dreams. They tie it together with “Here’s to chasing dreams,” a succinct statement unifying Honda and dreamers everywhere before finally dropping the new CR-V eye candy on you.

Honda’s SuperBowl CR-V spot hit the sweet-spot celebrity involvement, emotional messaging and creative approach…and they didn’t even have use a single fake person to do it.

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