Whoever you were rooting for yesterday, I think we can all agree that, with some mild exceptions, that game didn’t incite too much overall excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I was as excited as any MA native to see Tom win his first ring for his second hand at the end. But by the time we reached the second half and still had only a single field goal on the score board, I began taking my TV breaks (aka getting up to get more food) during game time, and running back in time so that I didn’t miss the commercials. So while I’m sure I missed a few commercials during the span of the game (I got a lot of snack refills), I’m also sure I was tuned in for most of them. These much anticipated and critiqued Super Bowl commercials represent a massive investment on the part of the company, so I am always intrigued with the people, methods, and messages they use to try and sell the millions of viewers watching on their product or service. So now, without further ado, here are my thoughts on what I considered to be some of the most memorable commercials from Super Bowl LIII (not necessarily in any particular order):
Hyundai’s commercial takes place in an elevator, with the poor couple looking for the “Car Shopping” floor forced to first pass below floors for “Root Canal”, “Jury Duty”, “Middle Seat”, “The Talk”, and “Vegan Dinner Party”, before finally stopping on “Car Shopping”, where they instead chose to use Shopper’s Assurance. I found the ad funny and I did remember that it was a car ad, but to be honest I had to look up which type of car it was advertising because I didn’t find it to be overly emphasized in the ad.
*Some alternative floor ideas: razor scooter to the ankle, being stuck behind a really slow driver, stepping on Legos, waking up and realizing your phone wasn’t charging, telling the class a fun fact about yourself, and people who do CrossFit who won’t stop talking about how they do CrossFit
As someone who has worked at a bar that only had Pepsi products, I have actually said the words “Is Pepsi okay?” many times, so I found the approach of latching onto that phrase, and shifting it to “More than OK”, to be very clever. Staring celebrities Steve Carrell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon, this ad demonstrates the power that influencers have on consumers, and I found it to be quite successful (I might be biased because I’m a huge “Office” fan and love anything Steve Carell is in, but still).
This year, companies paid upwards of $5 million for just 30 seconds of ad time, and one ad that I thought made the most of their short air time was T-Mobile. Their commercials were short and sweet, funny, and even provided some tangible reasons for switching to T-Mobile (tacos). They were very brief and were formatted in relatable text situations, from texting overshare-ers, to girlfriends who insist on dictating where you eat, to technologically incompetent parents, which were sure to illicit a laugh from a large variety of watchers.
Bud Light had two very different ad techniques, and both of them were brilliant. The first one served as both a Bud Light ad and a promo for the highly anticipated “Game of Thrones” final season coming out this spring. GOT has a massive fan base, and partnering with the hugely popular entertainment series for this ad was a genius idea. It served as a great source of anticipation for the impending final season, and made you want to drink a beer while you watch it.
Their second ad, while sticking with the medieval theme, went in a completely different direction. The emphasis was on the ingredients of the beer, focusing on the fact that Bud Light does not use corn syrup, while two of their big competitors, Coors Light and Miller Light, do brew with corn syrup. In an age where consumers are becoming increasingly more health conscious, I found this a very good route to take. I don’t think the majority of consumers make a practice of analyzing the ingredients of the beer they drink, but by pointing it out themselves, Bud Light brought up worries that consumers didn’t even know they needed to be worried about. I personally didn’t know that corn syrup was an ingredient in any beer brewing, but the phrase “corn syrup” elicits an immediate negative response from specifically the younger, more health-conscious individual, and that was certainly displayed in the immediate conversation that ensued after this ad played in the room where I was watching the game.
Someone finally figured it out…women watch the super bowl too! Bumble’s ad featured star tennis player Serena Williams to promote their dating app that requires women to send the first message. The commercial briefly goes through Williams’s story and ends with the line, “Don’t wait to be given power, cause here’s what they won’t tell you…we already have it”. And let me tell you, sitting in a room with mostly women, that line elicited a strong response. By telling a story through a powerful female figure and role model and encouraging women to take action and initiative in every aspect of their lives, I found this ad to be extremely moving. If I was asked before yesterday if a dating app ad could be inspirational I would have said no, but Bumble proved me wrong with this one.
Michelob ULTRA made the bold move of centering their ad around ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine, triggered by using whispering and auditory triggers. I personally did not have much of a response to this ad (on the contrary it made me kind of uncomfortable), but I did remember it, and I suppose that is the whole point.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Budweiser went with their classic dog horse combination once again (although the dog was a Dalmatian this time), with the ad featuring said dog enjoying the wind in his ears, sitting on top of a wagon being pulled by said horses. It was accompanied by the tagline “Wind Never Felt Better”, and was promoting their now wind-powered brewing process. Like Bud Light with their health-conscious approach, Budweiser was targeting the younger, more environmentally conscious demographic, while also playing on peoples’ universal love of animals being friends and enjoying themselves, so I wasn’t disappointed.
Overall there were a lot of beer and car commercials (no big surprise there), lots of celebrity appearances, and a fair number of dogs, so not a bad year.