Super Bowl LVII Ads: A Fun and Unsophisticated Analysis
Evaluating the Hits and Misses of the Super Bowl Commercials using a Personal and Biased Approach
💎 DESIGN: Sharpening Your Edge
As a new marketer and brand builder at Procter & Gamble (many years ago), one of my favorite things that we did at a staff meeting immediately following the Super Bowl was evaluate the ads and talk about which were our favorite and why. #nerdalert Because I like being prepared, and love learning from others, I took notes and then compared my responses with others. The exercise was illuminating as it crystallized for me how ads are received versus (being on the brand side) what the creative brief said, or might have said.
Reverse engineering a brief after seeing an ad was an exercise I introduced many years later when I had the privilege of leading marketing teams. I used this exercise to teach, and to learn from others. Plus, it forces you to ask “why” and “what” a lot—as in “why” would they write this?! and “what” were they thinking?! Or “what” were they trying to accomplish, and “why”?
So now onto last night’s Super Bowl.
Given that I wasn’t emotionally invested in the game anyway, I thought I’d go back in time do a bit of homework and “evaluate” the ads. But what criteria to use? There are MANY, so many, subject matter experts on what makes an effective ad. So what did I do? AI of course.
I decided to create a “new” one using ChatGPT as my partner.
I couldn’t quite remember the details of the formal criteria I was trained on at P&G, but I do remember my mnemonic “Dr. E.B. Dre”. I think it was along the lines of Equity, Benefit, Distinctiveness, Response.
I then grabbed my always relevant and handy-dandy Beloved Brands book from Graham Robertson…
…and asked ChatGPT a few prompts, smashing together what I could recall with Graham’s recommendation while sprinkling in a few of my personal ideas.
And voila: I present to you my Unsophisticated & Biased Assessment Framework to Use on the Super Bowl LVII Ads. (Or UBAF-USBA-ABBEM for short.)
Poor: Does not capture the audience's attention
Fair: Captures some attention, but not effectively
Good: Effectively captures the audience's attention
Excellent: Captures the audience's attention in a unique and impactful way
Outstanding: Captures the audience's attention and sets itself apart from other advertisements
Poor: Does not effectively link the advertisement to the brand
Fair: Link is not clear or weak
Good: Link is clear and effective
Excellent: Link is clear, effective, and seamlessly integrated with the advertisement
Outstanding: Link is clear, effective, seamlessly integrated, and elevates the brand's story and purpose
Poor: Does not clearly communicate the key benefit of the product
Fair: Benefit is not clear or not effectively communicated
Good: Benefit is clearly communicated
Excellent: Benefit is clearly communicated and effectively emphasized
Outstanding: Benefit is clearly communicated, effectively emphasized, and resonates with the target audience
Poor: Does not evoke a positive emotional response towards the brand
Fair: Evokes a limited emotional response
Good: Evokes a positive emotional response
Excellent: Evokes a strong and positive emotional response
Outstanding: Evokes a strong, positive, and memorable emotional response
Memorable & Shareable:
Poor: Not memorable or shareable
Fair: Memorable to some extent, but not shareable
Good: Memorable and shareable
Excellent: Memorable and highly shareable
Outstanding: Memorable, highly shareable, and leaves a lasting impact on the target audience
I took notes on a Google sheet and watched nearly all the ads.
I didn’t fully assess all of the ads, just the ones I wanted to. I had wings to eat.
This is not meant to be serious. It’s advertising. It’s meant to be fun.
The ads were generally entertaining: I’d score the entire reel a solid B.
The ads that I was particularly drawn to were simple and depicted “real life”.
With very few exceptions, “benefit focused” was clearly not a priority.
So. Many. Celebrities. Which can be a plus / minus depending on IF you like that celebrity. E.g., I’m neutral on Dunkin, but I “like” Ben Affleck. So “Emotional Resonance” skewed higher. And that’s the point. But it’s a double-edged sword.
I loved nearly all the movie trailers. Michael Keaton as Batman?! AYFS?! #swoon
Google Pixel. My friend, and creative & advertising savant, philosopher, teacher, Tim Brunelle summarized it best:
“But I’ll give top honors to Google. “Fixed On Pixel” wins for its strategic insight—photos are great, but photos you can fix are a modern miracle. Loved the pacing. Loved the harmonica version of Missy Elliot’s “We Run This.” And the use of celebrity actually made sense—removing blur in a rushed moment with Doja Cat, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s nod and wink. Amy Schumer’s realization was to our benefit.”
Get stuck in Pringles. Classic example of being super focused on Brand Link.
Tubi. Creepy AF rabbits (Attention & Memorable) — there will be memes. Good Brand Link and Benefit Focused.
Bud Light. Miles and Keleigh Teller choosing joy. Excellent Emotional Resonance: it doesn’t always have to be about a party atmosphere to just enjoy the moment.
T-Mobile (Brad & his Mom). I’m getting to the age where laughing with my Mom matters. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
WeatherTech & Bass Pro Shops. Gotta hand it to these folks—they know their prime prospects, and they are consistent. They know what they’re about, what their prime prospects are about and then they validate them.
Blue Moon. Tastes Great, Less Filling, actually it’s a Blue Moon ad. Bring back the nostalgia, layer in some high-def action, and slam it home with Blue Moon. What?! Memorable, Meme-able, heavy product placement.
Workday. See Tim’s assessment. Meme-able.
The Busch Guide. Subtle hilarity tethered by a focus on the brand and product.
Crown Royal. No David Grohl, thank you for making an ad for Canada. This was an emotionally difficult decision for me. I love Grohl, but we didn’t get any product / brand scores.
Remy Martin. See Crown Royal. LOVE seeing Serena, and my daughter was PUMPED by her speech. Had no clue it was for Remy Martin or WHY it was for Remy Martin.
Jeep’s Electric Slide. What? I’ve been known to cut a mean electric slide but I feel like Jeep went way off profile on this one. I felt like they were trying to be Subaru.
Unstoppables by Downy. Sniff it to believe it. McBride is hilarious. The open was good, strong product placement by starting in the laundry room. What ensued was funny but why?
Binky Dad. I thought we were past the dumb Dad tropes? It's unclear how that entire ad pays off “Movement that inspires”.
Ram 1500’s Premature Electrification. Just didn’t land well. Imagine you’re a loyal Ram fan and you’re used to seeing ads that featured Sam Elliot walking you through how bad-a** your Ram truck is in bringing the universe to you. Then you see this Premature Electrification ad.
I scored everything else, but they felt middle of the road.
In conclusion, the Super Bowl LVII advertisements were a mixed bag. The advertisements that resonated the most with me were those that effectively captured attention, had a clear link to the brand, communicated the key benefit of the product, evoked an emotional response, and were memorable and shareable. The commercials that fell short in my opinion often lacked a clear link to the brand or failed to communicate the key benefit of the product. Or I just didn’t “get it” and by “it” I mean the brief. I.e., if the ad landed in the misses or neutral category, that means I just couldn’t logically reverse the brief given what I know (real or perceived) about the consumer and category.
Overall, however, the advertisements were entertaining and provided a glimpse into the creative strategies of some of the world's biggest brands. Whether you're a marketer, a brand builder, or just someone who loves advertising, the Super Bowl is always a great opportunity to see the latest and greatest in advertising creativity. Whether it's through my Unsophisticated & Biased Assessment Framework (UBAF) or another approach, evaluating the Super Bowl advertisements is a fun and engaging way to learn about advertising and see how brands are using different techniques to connect with audiences.
Hope you enjoyed this little sojourn. I know I had fun.
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