Tom’s Take: Super Bowl LII Ads
By: Tom Merrick – CCO
Three Things I Learned from Last Night’s Super Bowl Ads
When you make ads for a living, watching the Super Bowl is not the same fun event as it is for most people. True, you get to over-indulge on chips and greasy finger foods. But you never really get to enjoy the game. That’s because you’re always working – watching the ads, judging them, explaining to your friends and family why the Jeep Ad with the river is good and the Jeep ad with Jeff Goldblum isn’t.
In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter what YOU the advertising expert thinks. All that matters is what America thinks, and USA Today is there to take their temperature with their handy-dandy Ad Meter. (Congrats, Amazon!)
Still, there are a few things you can learn from someone who makes ads for a living. So instead of sharing my thoughts on which ads I liked best, I thought I’d share three key takeaways from last night’s Ad Battle.
The Bigger the Budget, the Better
Creative directors like myself are fond of saying stuff like: “It doesn’t matter how much money you spend. It’s all about the idea.” And for the most part that’s true – unless you’re making a Super Bowl spot. Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman don’t rhyme for nothing, you know. Steven Tyler doesn’t get younger without some serious coin to make it happen. And Alexa doesn’t get you to remember her name without tapping four HUGE names to do it. But you know what? It’s all good. Because I for one prefer living in a world with an advertiser who ponied up big bucks to bring us some remixed Queen.
Tug a Heartstring, Get Some Luv
Four of the top 10 commercials on USA Today’s Ad Meter were from advertisers who wanted to tell us about all the good things they were doing as a company, as opposed to the goodness of their company’s products or services. Toyota showed us what they’re doing to improve mobility for humankind. Verizon reminded us they’re the link between an emergency and first responders. Hyundai told us the stylized “H” on every one of their cars stood for Hope. And Budweiser wanted us to know that they weren’t above helping disaster victims by canning plain water instead of watery beer. I for one take issue with easy-win ads like these, since I believe the point of helping people is TO HELP PEOPLE – not get credit for helping people. But like Kevin, nobody asked me. So I’ll just shut up now.
Check Your USP at the Door
Some of us old-skool ad guys remember a little something called the USP – the “Unique Selling Proposition.” The USP was (and is) believed to differentiate your product from the competition, and give the consumer a reason to choose you. Unfortunately, the brands that tried this tried and true approach on Super Bowl Sunday were immediately forgotten. Skechers makes shoes with a WIDE FIT??? Yawn. Persil cleans clothes? There’s a shocker I forget by the next Tide commercial. Which, by the way, took the same USP and actually made it interesting – ABOUT NINE THOUSAND DIFFERENT TIMES THAT NIGHT. Sorry, USP. When it comes to Super Bowl ads, you stand for “Unbelievably Stinky Piles of Poo.” I realize that adds a superfluous P, but cut me some slack.
I was up very late celebrating the first Super Bowl victory for the city of my birth. FLY, EAGLES, FLY!