Best & Worst 2015 Super Bowl Commercials

Wisdom to Apply To Your Advertising in 2015

Favorites Aren’t Worth Ranking

As a voting panelist member of USA Today’s AdMeter on Super Bowl commercials, I know most members vote for their favorite spot based on some random sense of feeling. I don’t. I vote on impact based on the following criteria regarding the spot:

  • Did it provide new information that is relevant to my world? (new product, new benefits, etc.)
  • Did I have an emotional response to it? (laugh, cry, think)
  • Did it change my opinion about a brand? (either positive or negative)

The spots that combine elements of the above are the ones with the greatest impact.

Greatest Impact Award: Always – Like a Girl

Always #LikeAGirl – Super Bowl XLIX

The Like A Girl spot hit on all 3 impact points. It gave me new information about the “Like a Girl” insult. As the father of two daughters, I certainly responded to this spot and it increased my appreciation for P&G as they are making an investment in bettering the world for my daughters….and maybe my granddaughters?

Nugget: Tell a compelling story that is focused on your customer. Mention your product in a support role to your customer. Make it about them, not you.

Rookie of the Year: LocTite

LocTite  – Super Bowl XLIX

There were 12 first-time advertisers this year. A 37-year-old glue company takes the Rookie of the Year award for the memorable LocTite commercial. Why did it win? Because it created an impact by:

  • Providing new information that is not only relevant, but memorably delivered with the product name emblazoned on the red fanny packs (which are now for sale via their website)
  • Presenting a story that I responded to (laughed) because it is an everyday product used by everyday people
  • Introducing me to the brand and creating a positive image – I have no idea if the glue is any good

It’s been reported that LocTite spent their entire marketing budget on the Super Bowl spot. They have successfully climbed the ladder of consumer awareness. Next time I am looking for glue and I see LocTite on the shelf, I will buy it. That could be a year from now, but this spot has that kind of longevity impact…besides, no other glue has advertised at that level (hint to Gorilla Glue!).

When eTrade and GoDaddy first advertised during the Super Bowl, they were small players and used this event to jump 10 rungs up the awareness ladder.

Nugget: Is your brand/product in a position to jump up the ladder for a breakthrough opportunity?


As a father, I certainly was the target market for a nice wave of spots featuring Dad. All were inspiring in their own way.

Toyota and Dove told of Dad as an unsung hero which clashes with our typical portrayal in TV shows and commercials. Nissan took a different angle by selecting Harry Chapin’s “Cats In the Cradle” 70’s hit as its theme about an absent race car driving Dad. At the end of the spot, there seems to be a recognition about his not being there and hope that change is in the air which didn’t make me feel better about Nissan even though I drive one every day.

Nugget: Think of your prospects…whose story isn’t being told? Show your customer appreciation by telling their story.

Toyota – My Bold Dad

Toyota – My Bold Dad – Super Bowl XLIX

Dove Men+Care – Real Strength

Dove Men+Care #RealStrength – Super Bowl XLIX

Nissan – With Dad

Nissan – With Dad – Super Bowl XLIX

Out of Power – Mophie

For 52 seconds, the viewer endures disturbing images of apocalyptic scenes…fish falling from the sky, a hurricane in Nebraska, trees imploding into fire, man being hit by a car, a priest looting and a dog walking a man on a leash. The payoff…God’s cell phone battery is dying and the world is going down the tubes. The voice over states, “With 100% more battery power – Mophie – Stay Powerful.” I found no humor in the twist at the end. I couldn’t tell what Mophie is. Is it a new cell phone? Is it a type of cell phone battery? Worse yet, I didn’t care what Mophie is. I was not compelled. Only through researching Super Bowl commercials have I come to discover that Mophie is a case for your phone that also carries back-up battery power. They missed the practical benefit statement.

Nugget: When advertising for the first time during the Super Bowl, don’t forget to include a basic benefit statement for the 100 million viewers who are not familiar with your product. This principle applies to any new media that you may choose to advertise in. You must progressively educate your audience.

Trends: #Hashtags Dominate

Often, Super Bowl commercials set trends for the coming year. There was a time when the company’s website URL was not standard content for a commercial. Super Bowls changed that trend. The same thing occurred with the inclusion of Facebook. This year, a tipping point was reached for hashtags and Twitter. The # (hashtag) connects to themes engaged through Twitter, the 140-character communication tool. Here is a list of some of the Super Bowl spot’s hashtags:

#FirstDraftEver (Avocados from Mexico)
#EatASnickers (Mars)
#OneBoldChoice (Toyota)
#HelloFuture (BMW)
#LikeAGirl (Always)
#WiFiCalling (T-Mobile)
#StayPowerful (Mophie)
#TheBigRace (Mercedes Benz)
#BestBuds (Budweiser)
#ItsThatEasy (Wix)
#UpForWhatever (Bud Light)

This frequent hashtag use signals the continued influence of engaging with your customers and prospects through mostly mobile platforms with Social Media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Nugget: Be prepared to engage in and promote a two-way conversation with your customer.

Leveraging Your Limitations

New Castle Brown Ale’s Dirty Little Secret
New Castle Brown Ale did NOT air a Super Bowl spot. Actually, they never have. Last year, they pre-released a spot about what they would do if they had the budget for a Super Bowl spot and positioned themselves as a David battling the Goliath beer brewers (Bud). During the 2015 Super Bowl build up, New Castle “tried” crowd sourcing a Super Bowl spot by attracting 30 sponsors to split the cost of $4.5 million for 30 seconds.

As the story goes, they succeeded in attracting additional sponsors and produced the spot that aired pre-Super Bowl.

And, they created a website around the concept.

Here is the dirty little secret…Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch) paid extra money to NBC for exclusive airing rights so no other beer brands could be featured on the national broadcast. Also, New Castle is owned by Heineken, the European brewing giant (190 breweries in 70 countries with more than 170 brands) who has plenty of funding. So New Castle used their limitation (not allowed to advertise in the national broadcast) as a leverage point to build a brand story that is compelling to craft beer drinkers who love the little guy (even though New Castle is the child of a giant). It is great storytelling.

Nugget: What limitation is the market, industry or competition putting on you? Can you leverage that limitation into a compelling story?

Second Screen Winner

Adobe conducted significant analysis of how spots were viewed on second screens (not broadcast TV or cable) during the national broadcast. The “second screen” viewership included desktops, tablets, apps, and smartphones across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and more during the game. In America, #1 was Always – Like a Girl, followed by Avocados from Mexico – First Draft. Internationally, Nissan’s Dad spot dominated the second screen activity.

Nugget: Leverage your advertising beyond your initial placement. How can you re-purpose content that you already have?

Avocados from Mexico – First Draft – Super Bowl XLIX

Congratulations Patriots

In between commercials, I did watch the game and found it very entertaining.
Congratulations to the Patriots on a hard fought, never-give-up victory which I think you earned. However, this Super Bowl victory has not changed my opinion of your team or brand…as Cheaters. Success in football may be registered by victories, championships and profit, but in my world, reputation is critical.

Nugget: Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Football is a business and each team has a brand. I believe that winning or making a profit is a good thing. I also believe that deceiving the prospect or customer is wrong.

As a business, what is your brand? Have you ever made a decision that compromised your brand? Have you rectified it?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about Super Bowl commercials and how you thought they were effective (or not) in the comment section below!

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