2017 Super Bowl Commercials: A New Tactic In Advertising

February 06, 2017

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Well, here we are again; the day after watching another amazing Super Bowl game that ultimately resulted in the timeless, UGG-wearing Tom Brady hoisting the Lombardi trophy. Here in Colts country, we don’t particularly enjoy watching Tom Brady continue to solidify himself as the greatest quarterback of all time. But, there is no denying that he and the Patriots are one of the NFL’s great dynasties. UGG, indeed.

If there is anything that makes watching the Brady Bowls tolerable, it’s the commercials. Every year, I gear up to watch some of the most entertaining spots brands can offer up. And, as expected, brands across the board made their usual comedic noise. But there was no denying that the current political climate lent a hand in driving the creative behind some of the themes highlighted in this year’s hits.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen few brands take a risk by making social statements. For better or worse, a controversial spot often creates next-day buzz. This year, several major brands made a statement.

Ford – Go Further: Featuring the challenges of “getting stuck” while capitalizing on communal sharing trends, Ford purchased 90 seconds of real-estate between the coin toss and kick-off to showcase a number of new product developments such as ride- and bike-sharing programs. At an estimated $5 million dollars for a 30-second spot, Ford is making a huge investment in reshaping their image from an auto manufacturer to a mobility provider.

Audi – Daughter: In continuing its #DriveProgress campaign, Audi’s beautifully-crafted commercial featured a father watching his daughter compete in a soapbox derby race with all-male competition, while struggling how to explain gender inequality in our society. Inspired by his daughter’s victory, the father (and the brand) come out as the hero by choosing be the change.

84 Lumber – The Journey Begins: As a personal aside, I love the risk of this commercial. It was bold, emotional, and hopeful. Even before it aired, FOX forced 84 Lumber to recut the spot because it was too controversial. But, the company found a solution through a call to action which asked viewers to “see the conclusion” at Journey84.com.

Budweiser – Born The Hard Way: Although there is some discussion about whether this ad intended to take a stance on immigration, the ad – which focused on Adolphus Busch (immigrant and co-founder of Anheuser-Busch) and his journey to America – was in the works for nearly 8 months. Regardless of its intent, Budweiser’s heritage messaging could not have been more perfectly timed.

Hyundai – A Better Super Bowl: Brands are increasingly trying to compete with “in-the-moment” technology. How do we produce content that is immediately relatable? Aside from the tear-jerking moments of reuniting soldiers with families, the magic of this commercial was that it was filmed and produced DURING the Super Bowl and ran immediately at the conclusion of the game.

Social commentary continues to be a common trend in our industry. Brands cannot sit on the sidelines of the communities they serve. When times are tough, brands have the opportunity to create messages that not only build consumer loyalty, but offer hope and inspire action.