From the Desk (and Mind) of Marc Landsberg

The Yays and Nays of 2015’s Super Bowl Ads

This year’s Super Bowl had all the traditional hoopla and anticipation – from who would win the Ad Wars to what will Katy be wearing (and will there be a wardrobe malfunction) to will Tom and Bill get their hands on the footballs before the game? So much drama.
In the end, amidst all the hoopla, a great game happened. What fun. Aside from Pete Carroll’s brain cramp during the last play, it was an exceptional game. And here’s our take on the advertising before, during and after the game:

1. Big Production Budgets. It certainly seemed marketers and their agency partners had found some money under the couch. Huge production budgets seemed back in style. Aside from Dorito’s user-generated ads, most spots were big production affairs produced by big established agencies.

2. Everything Pre-Released. Fascinating – just about every noteworthy ad was released before the actual event. Sort of takes the fun out of it.

3. Social Was More about Snacks Than Content. Last year, there was more action online than offline. Every brand, from eTrade to Tide was working hard to lean into real-time marketing and be relevant in the moment. This year, there was much, much less of that…in fact, our friends at Oreo were silent on the matter. A huge opportunity missed for many brands, as virtually everyone watching does so on multiple simultaneous devices.

4. Lots of Borrowed Interest. The hallmark of any great communications effort is consumer relevance – something we call the Value Exchange. All great content delivers value for the audience – entertainment, utility, information…name it. The big production ads around the Super Bowl this year seemed to borrow a lot of interest unrelated to the product or any value it might deliver for its audience. Big budgets, borrowed interest…hmm.

Below, please find our take on the winners and losers from our very own, Justine Boney…and as always, delighted to hear your perspective and chat some more. What did you think?


The Yays and Nays of 2015 Super Bowl Ads by SOCIALDEVIANT’S Justine Boney


A close game. An exciting half-time show. A slew of highly-anticipated commercials that, for the most part, tugged at the heartstrings. Wait, what?

After a decade of Super Bowl ads that felt like they were desperately trying to one-up each other with increasingly odd, obscure, and downright weird commercials, it appears we’ve arrived at the kinder, gentler side of big game ads.

Perhaps it’s the fact that last year didn’t produce anything particularly noteworthy, or maybe advertising folks were considering that 2014 felt like a harrowing year for many and opted to play up the emotional side of their brands to feel more human.

Naturally, some brands did this much more deftly than others. A quick rundown of yays and nays from the night:

  • Yay: Always brought back its #LikeAGirl ad for a Super Bowl spot. While the message is as relevant as ever and saw a nice boost in conversation once it aired, I found it curious that they didn’t update the spot with someone like Mo’ne Davis to freshen it up for the new life the campaign will surely get.
  • Yay: Coke took on the pervasive vitriol found online by applying their #MakeHappy campaign to cyber bullying and online negativity as a whole with their ad. The story was strong, the execution was heartfelt, and it managed to feel honest without being hokey. To build on the ad, a social campaign to turn negative social posts into something positive launched this evening.
  • Yay: McDonald’s tweeted reactions to ads throughout the night, but with a twist: they were giving away prize packs related to the ads. They managed to participate in the event in real time in a way that fit with the brand and didn’t feel too forced.
  • Nay: Nationwide’s lighthearted ads featuring Peyton Manning have likely lodged the brand’s jingle in your brain forever, but tonight they moved away from the lighter tone and shared an unflinching look at why people need their products. In what was probably one of the most jarring ads to run during the Super Bowl, a child details things he’ll never do in his life because he died in an accident.  While this one will definitely stay on your mind, Twitter quickly turned the boy into a meme that filled social for the remainder of the game.
  • Nay: Mercedes-Benz’s tired Tortoise and Hare ad landed with a thud. Dull storytelling coupled with a cringeworthy tagline does not make for Super Bowl gold.
  • Nay: Real time efforts from most brands continue to feel cringeworthy at best. While the TV spots all seemed to angle in on very human elements, social content felt as tired and desperate as ever. Instead of sharing clunky content in a vacuum, let’s instead put a little more rigor behind a solid community management strategy so you’re not just copying and pasting when you have ads airing. Nationwide, I’m looking at you.
  • Meh?: We saw an unprecedented number of ads about dads this year. Brands like Toyota, Nissan, Dove all realized that dads aren’t just bumbling morons who may or may not drop the baby, but the ads aired tonight all felt a little too saccharine and overwrought. Nice try, but next time let’s just try to skip the overly dramatic but oddly fractured storytelling.

So, what did you think of brands trying to give you all of the feels last night?


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