The Super Bowl. To some it is a riveting athletic completion, to others it is a 12-minute concert sandwiched between countless hours of football, and to many it is a second Thanksgiving where the feast is comprised of nachos, hot wings, pizza and beer. For those of us in marketing, however, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the advertising efforts of some of the nation’s top brands.
This year, more than 110 million people watched the Super Bowl, and each 30-second commercial slot cost $5 million — plenty of incentive for advertisers to put their best foot forward. But creating a commercial that effectively captures your brand, resonates with your audience (which presumably, in this case, includes Super Bowl viewers), creates a lasting impression and motivates action isn’t easy. And without a strategic approach backed by impeccable creative, it’s nearly impossible.
So which brands won the marketing Super Bowl this year? Here are a few of the Mustang Marketing team’s favorites:
For the past 10 years, Doritos has selected their Super Bowl commercial through a contest called Crash the Super Bowl. Fans submit 30-second ads, vote on their favorites and then Doritos selects a final winning entry to air during the Super Bowl. Not only does this allow Doritos to astronomically expand its creative resources, it also helps ensure that the ad concepts appeal to the company’s audiences and creates an opportunity for these audiences to actively engage with the brand.
This year, Doritos ran two different ads — one irresistibly cute, the other undeniably funny (though perhaps a bit more controversial) and both absolutely unforgettable!
If you’re curious about how to get some extra mileage out of a Super Bowl ad, look no further than Taco Bell. The brand incorporated its Super Bowl commercial into a broader launch plan for its newest cheesy innovation — the Quesalupa. In January, Taco Bell announced that it would be unveiling its “biggest food creation yet” during the Super Bowl and invited fans to preorder the mysterious item, successfully creating excitement and encouraging their audience to take action.
The commercial itself — which centers around the theme that the Quesalupa is the next big thing in pop culture — is effective in its own right, offering great brand consistency and hunger-inducing visuals.
These quotes from the Mustang team say it all…
“How can you not love a dachshund in a hot dog costume? Heartstrings!” – Megan Macias, copywriter
“The Heinz commercial was awesome — wiener dogs dressed up as hot dogs running in slow motion. The close up of a puppy wiener dog takes the cake. I enjoy watching brands throw some silly comedy out there. It shows how comfortable you can be with your brand when you’re confident.” – Michael Arroyo, creative director
“From a marketing standpoint, I think Heinz was embracing the first rule of any successful viral advertising campaign — puppies and/or kittens.” – Jenny Guy, director of communications
“The Heinz commercial is by far the best for me. It was adorable as well as funny. It is nice to see a company that could arguably be considered the top in its product for 100 years still thinking up innovative ads.” – Jess Williams, production manager.
SoCal Honda Dealers
The Helpful Honda campaign is often used as a positive example in branding discussions at Mustang. In their 2016 Super Bowl commercial, the company announces that SoCal Honda dealers will extend a helpful hand once again by offering free uberX rides to locals for up to two hours following the Super Bowl — a great example of how to effectively define a brand, leverage partnerships and encourage audience engagement.
Home Safe with Free uberX Rides After the Big Game
Although not a Super Bowl ad in the traditional sense — as it promotes the Super Bowl itself, rather than capitalizing on the popularity of the Super Bowl to promote something else — the NFL’s “Super Bowl Babies” ad is pretty great. It captures “what makes the super bowl so super” with just the right blend of humor, creativity, adorableness and fun (although it probably did lead to more than a few awkward Super Bowl party conversations).
Super Bowl Babies
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