|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
And for the most part, the efforts from Super Bowl advertisers lacked a certain suspense as well. There were a few wins, to be sure: Hyundai scored points for its entertaining presentation of the benefits of its "turbo" technology. Oreo pleased the crowd with "Whisper Fight." But overall, there were few ads that would spark conversation the next morning. You know when even the beer ads are yawners, it's just an off year for Super Bowl commercials. (Seriously, Budweiser, what was this?) Coca-Cola, whose Super Bowl marketing plans were ambitious by any measure, failed miserably. And Go Daddy remained its repugnant self.
The problem wasn't a lack of production value, or necessarily a lack of execution in some of these less-than-stirring spots. The real problem was an inability to find the common denominator among the audience. Marketers that swung for the fences with humor lost equally big with those who didn't get the joke. The big-budget movie trailers left most over the age of 25 counting the seconds til the spot was over, not counting the days til the film's release.
Then, something truly unexpected happened. The power went out at the MercedesBenz Superdome. And suddenly, the game took on a new vitality. Twitter erupted with quips and theories on the outage, and all at once, everyone was experiencing the same thing. That's when the truly engaging marketing happened.
Oreo took advantage of the scene by reminding its Twitter followers that it doesn't take light to enjoy a cookie.
Audi, whose bravery spot was one of the few bright spots (pun intended) in the first half, couldn't pass up a veiled dig at their competitor, whose namesake was on the darkened venue, with this tweet that promoted a timely feature of its cars.
Even Walgreens, which didn't have a spot in the big game, struck while the iron was hot by reminding followers its stores stock power outage necessities.
It's a technique called newsjacking, and when it's done well, it can earn more buzz than the largest-budget ad. These brands capitalized on the common experience, and inserted their brands into the conversation in an engaging way.
Oddly, everything seemed brighter after the power outage. The 49ers rattled off 17 straight points to make the game interesting again. Marketing seemed to make a comeback too, led by this Dodge Ram spot that is widely being called best in show:
While the production values are exquisite here, it's worth noting that this spot resonates because of the rugged, up-from-the-bootstraps message that is told with unparalleled authority by the late Paul Harvey. That message of self-sufficiency is one that Chrysler wove into its past two Super Bowl spots with wild success, from Clint Eastwood's stirring "Halftime in America" to the memorable "Imported from Detroit" spot featuring Eminem.
In the end, there's a lesson marketers at every level should heed. Huge budgets and elaborate special effects will never cover over marketing that fails to tell a relatable story. It was refreshing to see the brands who executed with this in mind in this year's Super Bowl, and here's wishing more will in the future.
What ads resonated with you? Were there memorable moments I left out? Let me know in the comments.