Super Bowl Ads 2014 Best and Worst

The Super Bowl is the annual event that marketers look forward to every year because it sets the bar for the next 12 months.  Business owners and decision makers can benefit from understanding and applying the underlying strategies that are broadcast during the breaks in the action on the field.

I am a USA Today AdMeter voting member.  The top 5 vote getters were:

  1. Puppy Love / Best BudsBudweiser
  2. Cowboy KidDoritos
  3. A Hero’s Welcome – Budweiser
  4. Time MachineDoritos
  5. The Phone Call  – Radio Shack

New Trends – Getting Real

This year, we saw several reality based spots with Budweiser’s Hero’s Welcome (#3) and the Bud Light Epic Night spot. The Welcome Home spot features a returning military man to a surprise parade and is very touching.  The Epic Night spot takes a man off the street (really in a bar) engages him in car party, a new suit, llamas with Don Cheadle and ping pong with Arnold Schwarzenegger in a series of several spots. It sounds like an epic night, but it didn’t get epic rating.

Most Touching

Budweiser Best Buds – Clydesdales, a puppy, a good looking guy and a cute girl – hard to go wrong with that one.  Certainly the most effective at pulling at the heart strings of the viewer.  Well produced and directed.  A powerful story in just 60 seconds.  Nothing new here this year.  It is pretty much the same storyline as last year’s. Probably could have used this year’s soundtrack with last year’s commercial. It even features the same guy as the horse breeder.  This spot is exceptionally effective at touching the heart.  Budweiser found an effective strategy to stay on top and repeated it.  It’s usually never a bad strategy to go with what works!

Best Timing

The Budweiser Best Buds spot was one of the few that launched their ad aggressively in advance of game day and it got a viral response.  People at the party I attended were asking BEFORE the game, “Did you see the Budweiser puppy commercial?” Given that the spot ran in the 4th quarter of a blowout game when viewership is declining instead of increasing shows that the Budweiser folks still got their money’s worth even if fewer people were watching when it rolled – timing is everything.

Best Alignment

T-Mobile and Tim Tebow promoting “No Contracts.”  I call that great alignment.  Tebow gets noticed no matter what he does and he didn’t even play football this year. It was a streak of brilliance to cast Tebow as spokesperson for the No Contracts promotion.  FYI – This is not Tebow’s first Super Bowl commercial.  He did one with his Mom a couple of years ago that caused quite a stir.

Worst Pay Off 

Maserati spent almost 90 seconds building the anticipation of some life changing perspective.  It silenced the crowd at the party…and the payoff is a new Maserati model?  Ho-hum.  Kind of disappointing.  I’ve not seen much advertising from Maserati over the years, so a first impression of disappointment was probably not the goal.

Get The Crowd Talking

Last year, there was some chatter about the Cheerio’s spot featuring a black Dad and a white Mom.  This year, Cheerio’s waded into the same race issue.  The spot features a captivating little daughter bargaining with her Dad for a puppy as payoff to getting a little brother.  A little controversy is a good strategy to getting people talking about a 73-year-old oat cereal.

Matrix Revisited

Kia introduced their new luxury vehicle with a Matrix-themed spot featuring Laurence Fishburne reprising his role as Morpheus.  From the choice between the red key or the blue key, Matrix metaphors appeared throughout this product introduction spot.  It effectively made a positive first impression (although a little weird with the opera singing) of Kia’s first entry into the luxury market.  Well done Kia!

Fun to Watch and Effective

“Every time a VW turns 100,000 miles, a German engineer gets their wings,” says a dad to his teenage daughter. Not only is the spot fun to watch but it is one of the few that actually makes a claim… “Volkswagen has the most vehicles on the road over 100,000 miles than any other brand.”  Entertaining and good alignment with brand.

More Fun to Watch

Stephen Colbert is the spokesperson for the Pistachio market. In a short 15-second spot, he delivers a simple message.  He is back 30-seconds later in another 15-second spot with a bit more potent and memorable message.  Sometimes two 15-second spots are better than one 30-second spot.

Mystifying 1 – CarMax

Why are the people in the CarMax spot clapping?

Why is the guy who played Rudy from the movie Rudy in this ad?

I had to check it out on YouTube to discover a clapping scene from the Rudy movie. I remember Rudy in its heyday…the clapping scene wasn’t memorable. I thought the CarMax spot was reprising the 1980’s prison movie “Brubaker” starring Robert Redford where the last scene all the prisoners clap that same way for the ousted but good prison warden?

Mystifying 2 – Doritos

I just don’t get the effectiveness of the Doritos ads (#2 and #4) but the twenty-something’s love them both…both Doritos and their spots.

Tell me what you think was the most effective spot and why

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