HarbaughsHere is my Super Bowl advertising recap from watching the game and the Twitter activity on the live #SBExp Twitter chat. This year, I hosted my own solo Super Bowl party, which is pathetic, but at least I got as many chicken wings as I wanted.

Amazingly, after a start where it looked like the 49ers couldn’t cover a Ravens player within five yards, the game got competitive after the lights went out (more about that later). The game ultimately came down to the last play of the game, making the football better than the advertising, in my opinion.

Nonetheless, let’s get to the ads:

The Super Bowl Advertising Winners

The first half Amy Poehler appearance for Best Buy was a satisfying change of pace – the brand was clear, Amy Poehler was funny as always, and she said the word “dongle” . . . The second half Tide ad for the Montana Miracle was product, benefit, and game-specific, plus it incorporated surprise and emotion. That’s a hard working ad from a familiar brand . . . Before everything got started on the Super Bowl braodcast, there was a pre-game ad for Buffalo Wheat Thins that played on everyone’s fears of Yetis and neighbors breaking in to steal snack foods that was amusing, and kind of made me remember the brand.

Several brands pursued sponsor bombs and got into the Super Bowl advertising mix without paying the premium rates on CBS by using promoted Twitter messages carrying strong strategic tie-ins. The Society of Human Resources Management took advantage of an NFL Network draft ad for its promoted Twitter ad, while Outback Steakhouse twisted its Bloomin’ Onion promotion to encourage patrons say “Super Bloom” for a freebie order the Monday after the Super Bowl. When you're on a limited budget, sponsor bombs are a smart strategy to pursue.

Amy Poehler for Best Buy

Tide - The Montana Miracle


Bud-Calvin-KleinDoritos apparently used up all the good amateur advertising people in the world in previous years with its earlier crowdsourced Super Bowl advertising entries . . . I’m not sure any of the first half Budweiser ads (Bud Light or Bud Black Crown) worked. Calvin Klein on the other hand? It’s underwear ad featuring a guy with incredible abs (which was a complete rip-off  of the H&M - Beckham ad from 2012)? Budweiser only wishes it could sell six packs that well . . . Audi’s ad with a young man taking Dad’s car solo to the prom and all of a sudden becoming an apparent rebel seemed off brand until the tag line explained it was all about “Brave engineering.” Brave engineering? Can you say, "Reach!"

The chasing Coke ad gave me no reason to care about voting or who would win the chase, even if it meant deciding which pre-shot ending would be chosen. The other Coke ad with the security cameras shooting pictures of people was supposed to be representative of shared moments. Feeling like you're being spied on with your every move is a connection we all share, I guess . . . Both Jeep announcing Oprah and Dodge RAM announcing Paul Harvey as voice overs is like an editorial cartoon labeling all the characters – you just shouldn’t have to do that. Both of these ads are getting attention as among the best. They stood out because of lower production values (photo montages in the Dodge ad) and heart-tugging messages, but the format is getting tiresome - especially when Chrysler does it in exactly the same place two years in a row.

The first Hyundai Santa Fe ad included pancakes, The Flaming Lips, bikers, and bubble boys, with nary a mention of Hyundai. A later Hyundai ad for their turbo-charge capability actually worked, i.e. it mentioned a feature (turbo charged engine) and visualized a related benefit (staying in front of bad vehicles to follow).

Calvin Klein

 Hyundai Turbo Charged Engine

And the Movie Ads

Movie ads just don’t work for me in the Super Bowl. Since nearly every ad looks like a movie with some attempt at a surprising twist at the end (such as finally mentioning the advertiser), the movie ads look like everything else except with no surprises.

The Skin

In a local pre-game break, Hardees tried to out-skin GoDaddy, but then GoDaddy changed things up with an international angle – couples worldwide and French kissing. How about if we all agree to buy a GoDaddy url if they stop Super Bowl advertising? I missed the 2 Broke Girls ad that supposedly put GoDaddy to shame, I can’t imagine what it featured.

Oreo-InstagramInstagram and Oreos

In what you’d have to think was its first featured Super Bowl appearance, Instagram was at the heart of the call to action for Oreos and its Crème vs. Cookie debate. By half time, the Oreos Instagram presence had grown to more than 25,000. While the TV-social media integration was being applauded, others questioned the cost per follower Oreos had invested. The BIG question: Will Oreos continue to activate its Instagram presence throughout the year?

Lights Out!

Beyonce was in a pre-game commercial explaining that her skin is a unique story. Apparently there’s a recorded story about her lips, which she avoided by not even pretending to sing on Single Ladies. But right after Beyonce was done . . . there was a blackout? Did she cause it? As @rsarver shared on Twitter, “BREAKING: During the Twitter, Superbowl goes down” . . . Given the change in momentum in favor of the 49ers afterward, we now know which Harbaugh brother is the better Catholic whose prayers get answered. My main concern though was people would start blaming FEMA and the other Mike Brown all over again . . . They said during the blackout the coaches were busy organizing the players to help them deal with the delay. Really? I never had one boss who had to come help me cope with a meeting that didn’t start on time.

Tide-OreoBut speaking of coping, both Oreo and Tide were able to respond with real-time content about the 30-plus minute blackout in the second half.  Allstate and its Mayhem character also got in on the blackout on Facebook, with Mayhem saying he’d planned to simply shut off the scoreboard. It goes to show that social media IS the most flexible, broadcast-oriented marketing communications tool a brand has – if it’s ready with the listening and smart content creation talent real-time activity requires.

What’s Up for Future Super Bowls?

What Eminem was to 2011, Rock was to 2013 – who will be the multi-ad person be for Super Bowl XLVIII? Future sponsorship opportunity? An international airline should sponsor all the kicks out of the end zone and 108 yard kickoff run backs . . . Somebody needs to develop the app to let you know which break has the weakest Super Bowl advertising so you know to go pee then . . . Maybe it’s just me, but simply throwing random characters, celebrities, and objects at your brand in for your Super Bowl advertising push (i.e., Coke, Bud Light, Mercedes, Taco Bell and others) isn’t all that effective. I’d recommend less of that in future Super Bowls. - Mike Brown


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