IT'S HERE. Well, it's almost here. That's right people, the Super Bowl of advertising: The Super Bowl. I don't know about you but I can't wait to see the ads, it's always such a cool surprise when . . . oh wait. Right, the entire ad-planning model around the big game has become a month-long cycle that no longer relies on the big reveal, but rather uses it as the tentpole for a much broader push, extending the halo of Super Bowl influence (and media budget) far beyond the four quarters on Sunday.
But don't count me among the curmudgeons. I like seeing the ads before the game, and this year there are plenty to choose from. Three of this week's top five are in the big game lineup, and for all that's changed around Super Bowl ad strategies, each reflects the traditional qualities of that "Super Bowl ad" ideal—big budget cinematography, subtext, feels, and a good ol' fashioned funny beer ad. Onward!
What: Audi's Super Bowl ad that questions the hypocrisy of loving our daughters but paying women less for equal work
Who: Audi, Venables Bell & Partners
Why We Care: I had a more long-winded take on this earlier this week, but essentially it breaks down to being a classic Super Bowl spot—an emotional, uplifting story beautifully told—with the added bonus of taking a stand on an important issue. Cynics will point to the decidedly male whiteness of Audi's own board, but the brand is on the right . . . road? (sorry) . . . with initiatives like a graduate internship program requiring 50% female enrollment, to start changing that.
What: Budweiser's Super Bowl ad, celebrating Adolphus Busch's immigrant story from Germany to St. Louis
Who: Budweiser, Anomaly New York
Why We Care: Bud didn't make a political ad— the times we live in have just made this pretty standard American Dream story seem so. Added context aside, it's still a great spot, looking to remind consumers that the poster child of corporate beer was also once a scrappy craft brewery itself.
What: A short film chronicling how the brand helped bring together a Syrian refugee family, who had been split up in different parts of Canada
Who: Air Canada
Why We Care: Despite this being filmed back in December, the fact the brand chose this week to release this ad makes it abundantly clear it is not only taking a side and a stand, but going beyond a tagline into action.
What: Busch's Super Bowl ad that gives a whole new—and long-winded—meaning to the brand name
Who: Busch, Deutsch
Why We Care: Everyone loves a nostalgic tribute done right. Here Busch takes the opportunity of the Super Bowl to remind us of its epic ads of the 1970s, with a twist. Same owl, same deer, longer schhhhhhhhh. People will be invoking the brand's name in long, exaggerated tones every time they open a beer during the game . . . "Busch after Busch after Busch . . . "
What: Danish broadcaster TV2 uses real people to make a point about diversity and commonality in the human family.
Why We Care: A short but entirely effective—not to mention timely—look at how we categorize each other in boxes, and why it's a good idea to change the labels from time to time.