Hyundai "Team"

A bullied tyke assembles a ragtag team a la every bad action movie you’ve ever seen. It’s not exactly heady stuff, but it doesn’t have to be--this spot from Innocean was successful Super Bowl entertainment.

Audi "Prom"

A Twitter tie-in (#Braverywins) allowed fans to weigh in on the outcome of the ad.

Samsung "The Big Pitch"

Samsung departs from last year’s more direct anti-Apple tack with this slick ad featuring Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen (and another, bigger superstar in cameo). Agency 72andSunny created the spot wherein Rudd and Rogen pitch ideas for a Samsung Super Bowl spot (and in the process send up a lot of Super Bowl advertising tropes). Look for another cameo by "the deathstar," CAA’s imposing headquarters.

Ram "Farmer"

Last year, Chrysler was one of the holdouts in the pre-game ad-reveal stakes. When its "Halftime in America" spot hit, it was all the more powerful for the fact that it was unexpected--and unusual. The tone of the spot commanded attention amid the noise and gaggery of the Super Bowl. This year, Chrysler brand Ram Trucks and agency The Richards Group took a page from that book and debuted an in-game ad that took audiences by surprise, both for the fact that viewers were seeing it for the first time and for its atypical, solemn tone. The spot consisted of a series of arresting images set to "So God Made A Farmer" a 1978 speech by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey. Ram and agency The Richards Group commissioned 10 photographers, including National Geographic’s William Albert Allard and documentary photographer Kurt Markus to create images of farming and farmers.
Viewers have pointed out that the ad is more or less a straight-up lift of this video from Farms.com, which does take the edge off a bit (Ram says the ad was an homage and Farms.com was on board).
But judged just on its crowd-stopping qualities during the Super Bowl, it was one of the night’s standouts.

Oreo "Whisper Fight"

Oreo completely changed its public persona over the last year, marking its 100th anniversary by becoming a witty, culturally plugged-in brand presence. To mark its centennial, the Mondelez (formerly Kraft)-owned brand, with agency DraftFCB and 360i had produced a social media-led campaign that used Oreo cookies as a vehicle for cultural commentary. The "Daily Twist" campaign was based on images of the cookies manipulated to evoke the news of the day--so we saw red Oreos with tread marks celebrating the Mars Rover landing and, in the most buzzworthy execution, a 6-layer rainbow Oreo recognizing Gay Pride Month. The brand continued its creative march with its Super Bowl spot from agency Wieden + Kennedy and director Tom Kuntz. The ad takes the core Oreo debate of cookies or creme filling--one the company says was frequently discussed among its 32 million Facebook fans--and pushes it over the top while adding a weird twist. The spot throws to Oreo’s Instagram page and fans are asked to join the debate by submitting photos hashtagged with #cookiethis or #cremethis.
The riot in hushed tones is fun for all ages and like "Daily Twist," it showed that you can be a "family-friendly" brand without cranking out groan-inducing pap as your advertising.

Oreo Power Outage Tweet

And then… during the bizarre, 34-minute power outage, Oreo put its social cred where its creamy center is and produced this most topical Tweet. The image was posted by Oreo and agency 360i at 8:48 p.m., just 12 minutes after things went dark at the Super Dome. "We knew we were going to have a talkable ad at the Super Bowl, which is why we set up mission control to both monitor and optimize the buzz about our brand, says Lisa Mann, VP Cookies at Mondelez. "Of course, we didn’t anticipate the power outage, but once it did happen, our agency and brand team at mission control immediately recognized an opportunity and developed the image and caption within minutes. Because agency and brand were all in the room together, we got the content developed and posted immediately."

Budweiser: "Brotherhood"

The once-king of the Super Bowl has been struggling for the last few years so it’s good to see a return to form and the return of the Clydesdales as protagonists. "Brotherhood" is a classic Budweiser spot that dares to be earnest and emotional--and wins. Agency Anomaly has had some solid hits since starting to work with the brand--last year we liked the shop’s spot for the Canadian broadcast, "Flash Fans."
The stakes are higher here of course--you don’t just go waltzing into the Super Bowl with a bittersweet Clydesdale story. But everything here worked to make a gorgeous, powerful spot, including a killer track ("Landslide" from Fleetwood Mac) and deft direction from Jake Scott (the picture is painted clearly enough for a game-day spot, without being heavy handed enough to set eyes rolling). The ad was heralded by a social media play--Budweiser launched its Twitter feed with a call for fans to name its newest Clydesdale foal (who appears in the spot).
If this spot doesn’t get you, you’re made of cold, hard, foreign-beer-drinking stone.

(And yes, as an animal lover, one is conflicted--we’ll trust that Budweiser provides a good life for its equine team).

Taco Bell "Viva Young"

Taco Bell shifted its slogan from "Think Outside The Bun" to "Live Más" last year, and shifted its tone toward more of a youth lifestyle vibe. The ads have been better, overall and this year’s Super Bowl spot, from Deutsch L.A. (DraftFCB is TB’s lead agency) is a high point. The agency heralded the spot with a pre-game video showing 87-year-old Bernie Goldblatt tear-assing around a football field. But the game-day spot (released before game day) surpassed the expectations created by the teaser. "Viva Young" is a spot-on depiction of a millennial’s epic night out, recreated with octagenarians. Hats off to director Noam Murro for commitment to the idea and the loving details that sell Goldblatt and his posse as nothing but crazy kids partying in the mortality-oblivious way that only crazy kids can. It’s funny and a bit bittersweet if you think about it too long (which is purely optional in a Super Bowl spot).

See The 8 Best Ads Of Super Bowl XLVII

Big, emotional stories, and a tuned-in social media response, win the big game.

For years now, one of the central changes that’s been happening in the ad industry—or, a change that the industry has been trying to effect—has been the shift from the notion of making ads (that is, one-off messages that run for a short, pre-determined period of time) to the idea of making content, and having an ongoing conversation with consumers. You can see that evolution reflected in Super Bowl commercials.

Everyone (including us) has been discussing the Amazing Expanding Super Bowl Commercial—the phenomenon whereby marketers are using the mass broadcast event as a focal point around which they are building larger, longer social media and video initiatives. Brands want to make hay while people are actively paying attention to ads, of course, and to make the most of a big ($3.5-$4 million dollars just for media) investment. But the shift from Super Bowl spot to Super Bowl campaign is part of that bigger move toward always-on content.

Most of the advertisers in this year’s Super Bowl either posted their game spot online before the game, or created a bespoke teaser spot, or both. And just about every brand had a social media play.

Coca-Cola orchestrated a participatory campaign where fans could choose the outcome of the brand’s Super Bowl film. Last year, Coke made a splash with the social-media-driven "Polar Bowl," campaign. Audi has used Twitter hashtags and audience feedback over the last three Super Bowls—this year with its #BraveryWins initiative which also allowed viewers to weigh in on the automaker’s ad ("Prom," which ended up being one of the more popular spots in the game). Calvin Klein went full Vine with its eye-popping Super Bowl star, Matthew Terry. Budweiser launched its Twitter feed (yes, the brand just started tweeting right before this year’s big game) with an invitation for followers to name the company’s new Clydesdale foal, who would play a role in the excellent game-day spot, "Brotherhood." And on it goes.

Oreo, which had been winning hearts and minds with a social-media-driven initiative over the last year (the "Daily Twist" campaign which saw the brand create Facebook posts/ads based on current events) grabbed the internet’s attention during the Super Bowl power outage with a blackout-themed tweet, turned around on the fly (read about how they did it in the slide show).

And the Oreo tweet is a great symbol of the shift toward constant content creation, instead of just advertising.

On one hand, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a swing back to revealing the main ads during the game (is there a point at which the networks start to get shirty about previews? If more and more of the viewers who watch the game for the ads have already seen all the ads, does that present an audience dissipation issue? So far, available wisdom suggests there’s no impact on in-game viewing). But even if some marketers veer away from revealing their big ad beforehand, the idea of creating a larger campaign around the Super Bowl will endure.

In the end, though, whatever the strategy, whenever brands unleash their ads, the key is making content that people want to watch, interact with and share.

In the slide show above, our picks for the brands who did that best.

See the rest of the Super Bowl spots here.

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1 Comments

  • Leah Curney

    Great point about the shifting landscape of advertising and the importance of content!