Statistically, you probably watched the Super Bowl last night. A lot of people did. Whether you were a diehard Seahawks fan, born-and-bred Bronco, a Bruno Mars maniac, or just wanted to see the ads, the Super Bowl has a little something for everyone, and that has made it one of the biggest cultural and television events of the year. Obviously the grand finale of the NFL season provides the biggest stage for the game itself, but casual watchers have just as high expectations for the halftime show and the ($4 million for 30 seconds) ads.
Unfortunately this year, the game itself didn't live up to the hype. Seattle dominated from the first snap, scoring repeatedly on an exhausted Denver defense stuck on the field because their offense couldn't put together drives. This was tough on all the Denver faithful at my house to watch the game, and while I'm a big fan of Richard Sherman after his NFC Championship performance and what happened after, I was definitely hoping for a better game. Your opinion on the halftime show probably depends on whether you like Bruno Mars or not, but anyone following up Beyoncé was going to disappoint. We got an amazing false start by Joe Namath, flipping the pregame coin prematurely while wearing a mink coat last seen worn by 90's rappers. And then we have the ads, some of which probably weren't even seen by many people who tuned or zoned out by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. Here's some of my favorites, the best, the worst, and the biggest splashes on social media from last night's Super Bowl.
Radio Shack probably takes the cake as being the best ad, playing right into our living room commentary with their self-deprecating commercial that both blasted their dated corporate image and introduced a new look for the electronics retailer. The inclusion of tons of 80's stars smashing their aged store to make way for a fresh and vibrant design was a big win for Austin-based GSD&M, and it will be interesting to see if the ad is just a one-off laugh or actually improves the future for Radio Shack. Often the best Super Bowl ads come out of left field with an established name and flip the branding upside-down, and this is perfect example.
After teasing their ad for a couple weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, I think expectations were pretty high for the Bud Light spot, which featured Don Cheadle and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The #UpForWhatever angle was entertaining to watch, as an (allegedly) unknowing normal guy got taken along for a crazy night filled with increasingly absurd scenarios, but I wonder if it would've been better if we hadn't seen the celeb cameos beforehand. I don't think it will sell more beer, but for many of these brands, being in the Super Bowl is purely "Keeping Up With The Joneses" and skipping the big game would hurt more than the ads themselves help.
Looks like all those people who said Tim Tebow's pro-life ad a couple years ago would be the closest he got to the Super Bowl were wrong! He got more ads! His spots for T-Mobile were entertaining because he poked fun at his deflated NFL career while promoting the mobile provider's "no contract" deal for consumers. Say what you will about his football skill, he's got enough fans to keep him in the public eye for years to come.
I see what Jaguar and Maserati were trying to do, I guess, but I've never felt that the Super Bowl was a very cost-effective place to advertise luxury brands. I'm sure there may be data somewhere that disagrees with me, but these both of these ads missed the mark in their own way. We spent most of the Maserati ad trying to guess what it was for, and nobody expected it would be for an Italian import and nobody cared once we knew. A rare miss from Weiden+Kennedy. Jaguar's was better, as they pulled off a Richard Sherman and tried to associate their brand with British villains, but I cared more about the big name actors and the motif of the ad itself than what it was selling, and I think most people watching did too.
Honda's "Hugfest" ad was good except for the fact that Bruce Willis leads off by saying "Great game, right?" NO, BRUCE. IT'S NOT A GREAT GAME. Unlucky. The "banned" SodaStream ad that cost Scarlett Johansson her OxFam ambassadorship wasn't worth any of the hype, and the fact that the network got mad at them for dissing Coke & Pepsi when Ford and Chevy go after each other every year is just silly. Chrysler: just give it up, I don't think it's working.
The runaway winner for the night was Esurance, but not because John Krasinski was funny (he was) but because they said they'd give $1.5 million dollars to some random person who tweets #EsuranceSave30, with a winner announced on Wednesday. They had hundreds of thousands of tweets in the first minute, and I can only imagine how many million entries they have now.
Coke's "America the Beautiful" was a terrific combination of Coke's multi-cultural appeal and some ol'-fashioned USA while the patriotic standard is sung in a variety of languages. This ad makes everyone feel good about Coke and helps us figure out which people on our Facebook and Twitter are racists, because a lot of people posted a lot of dumb stuff about it. In that same vein, props to Cheerios for coming back to the ad that got dumb people riled up before with a new (and possibly cuter) iteration.
The loser in the real-time social marketing world was J.C. Penney's #TweetingWithMittens posts, not because they looked sloppy and were misspelled (which I love) but because everyone liked it before the big mitten reveal when it looked like the department store got hacked or was drunk. It got a ton of social attention when it first happened, which is great, but probably not for the reasons they wanted.