By Cary Hatch, MDB Communications

The Super Bowl, the annual celebration of (or industry redemption for) the advertising industry, is over – at least until next year. Yes, despite the onset of the political ad season, most Americans – at least 117 million – watch this annual event, and many look forward to, the ads that garner nearly as much interest as the players.

What was new this year?

  • While releasing ads online has been in play for quite some time; CBS, for the first time, was streaming all national TV ads in and around Super Bowl 50. This ensured that advertisers considered both online impressions and TV ratings at the same time —and pay for them.
  • Celebrities: Apparently, more is more. This year’s list was longer than ever. Drake, Willem Dafoe, Ryan Reynolds, Christopher Walken, Seth Rogen, Amy Schumer, Helen Mirren, Alec Baldwin, Serena Williams, Tony Hawk, Abby Wambach, Scott Baio, Liam Neeson, Steven Tyler, and more.
  • Nostalgic music: Brands doubled-down on music as the way into the hearts, minds (and wallets) of consumers; songs like David Bowie’s “Starman”, Queen’s “Somebody to Love”, and the “Super Bowl Babies” video, from the NFL, with Seal’s, “Kiss from a Rose” were sure to please.
  • CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility ads continued to use the Super Bowl as a platform to announce, advocate and persuade. Several brands raised social consciousness of issues, including drunk driving, domestic violence and water conservation. Each was spotlighted on the large, national stage provided by Super Bowl 50.
  • More pre-game releases than ever: A marked increase from last year, brands started promoting their Super Bowl investments with full spots and teaser ads online as much as a week before the big event. The numbers showed that online and social media can advance promotions and peer validation that motivate purchase.  And for most brands – that’s the very definition of heartwarming.

A few of the ad highlights:

  • Hyundai– “First date”, the auto-tracking father who hands his car keys to his daughter’s suiter is a great way to introduce this new feature.
  • Heinz– “#Meet the Ketchups” Who doesn’t love “wiener” dogs running in hotdog costumes? The added benefit of aligning their new product play (mustard) and bar-b-que sauce.
  • Snickers– “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” – William DaFoe as Marilyn Monroe was the latest in their long-running campaign. Many felt this was as impactful as the Betty White version.
  • Mountain Dew– “PuppyMonkeyBaby” is sure to get good & bad Buzz…it’s uncomfortably delightful; and memorable for their audience
  • Apartments.com– the D.C.-based real estate powerhouse, CoStar’s first Super Bowl ad starring Lil Wayne with Jeff Goldblum singing “Moving on up” (a play on the nostalgic TV show “The Jefferson’s”) may spark controversy or smiles.
  • T-MobileSteve Harvey continued his self-deprecating reprise of “getting it wrong” this time to the benefit of T-Mobile; “Verizon got it wrong”. Well-played.

Cary Hatch is CEO and Brand Advocate of D.C.-based MDB Communications, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

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