Super Bowl 2019: did you catch the game within the game?

Super Bowl 2019: did you catch the game within the game?

It’s that time for the year again to dissect the NFL extravaganza — the Super Bowl of 2019.

For the record, the Patriots beat the Rams in a dour defensive display. But this article isn’t about the game or the much debated halftime performance by Maroon 5.

The real game is played in the ad breaks, or at least that’s what ad executives think.

Companies spend just over $US5 million ($AU7 million) for a 30 second spot. They also spend big on production, meaning a campaign could cost around $US15 million ($AU21 million).

Advertisers hope that after the game, people will share ads across social media. In order for this to happen the content must be memorable, but unfortunately, the verdict on the Super Bowl advertising this year is… somewhat underwhelming.

The wow factor in some of the ad campaigns from last year is missing this time around, but there were some ads that really did make us take notice and not want to click ‘skip ad’.

Advertising guru Jane Caro says that brands must stand for something, and convey this through their advertising. Audi, Toyota, Nike, and Gillette are just some of the major brands that have done precisely that, and invested in a social cause strategy.

These brands hope that we will see them as ethical, and that will make us more likely to buy their products. This has become increasingly important for millennials — the company must serve a higher purpose than just shifting loads of product.

Microsoft did social cause advertising the best in this year’s Super Bowl. Their ad focuses on kids with disabilities who are on a level playing field with their technology.

Disabled kids and their families don’t often get much air time, so this ad is a pleasant change. The by-line ‘When everybody plays we all win’ gives us a very real insight into how technology and gaming can make a huge difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

Budweiser went to the formula factory and came up with a crowd pleaser that has worked well for them in the past.

First, take a well-known Bob Dylan song, a cute Dalmatian puppy and stoic Clydesdale horses. Next, alert customers that you are ethical and environmentally conscious.

The beer company let us know that their beer is now brewed with wind power, hence Bob Dylan’s song “blowing in the wind”. Bud played it safe but certainly executed this campaign well.

Hyundai brought some humour into their campaign with the delightful Jason Bateman working as an elevator attendant taking people into the depths of hell through jury duty, root canal and the middle economy seat in a small, crowded aeroplane.

What could be worse than any of that? Car shopping — unless you have used Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance app. Bateman proceeds to take the Hyundai customers up a few floors to heaven.

It’s a simple idea that is a nod to the Netflix show The Good Place and it needed Bateman’s dry sense of humour to make it work.

Special mention goes to Mercedes Benz for their ‘Say the Word’ campaign. Car advertisers often do Super Bowl well and this ad is no exception.

The protagonist has a special power to make things happen with his commands and he loves his A Class Mercedes, which changes colour and plays his favourite Ludacris song.

The ad shifts away from the stereotype of a Mercedes driver — it features a young, socially conscious male who is ‘too cool for school.’

Interestingly, the USA Today Ad Metre showed that women liked the ad more than men and the 65+ age group enjoyed it most. Mercedes may have kicked a goal with this ad, but the younger audience they were courting have not yet come to the party.

Amazon and Pepsi are usually crowd pleasers but both companies got some pushback this year with their campaigns.

Amazon’s Alexa was a pale imitation of last year’s outstanding campaign where Alexa lost her voice and needed celebrity stand-ins.

This time around, Amazon showed us malfunctioning Alexa, which may actually scare people about where their technology could take us, rather than making people want to purchase the product.

Pepsi enlisted Steve Carrell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon to let us know that Coke should never be first choice, and that Pepsi is “more than okay”.

It’s always a risky strategy to give a nod to your competitors. This ad is interesting in that it acknowledges that the customer’s first choice is Coke, and the waiter wants to know if she will settle for a Pepsi. And that’s when the celebs come in and convince the customer that Pepsi is “more than okay”.

Pepsi have been trailblazers previously but this ad seems a little desperate, and did not rank well on the USA Today Ad Meter that calls for live voting from customers.

Burger King failed to connect with fans with their ‘Eat like Andy’ campaign.

The ad features real footage of a sombre looking Andy Warhol eating a whopper and dipping it in tomato sauce.

It relies on recognition of the iconic Warhol, and then relies on the audience wanting to rush out and buy a burger so they can #eatlikeandy. However, the ad was rated the worst on social media.

The only consolation for Burger King is that they spent very little on the actual ad anyway — very low production values.

So there you have it — not too many touch downs to write about in this year’s Super Bowl advertising, but there were some standouts that should see a return on investment.

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