A UK Perspective on the 2015 Super Bowl Commercials
Advertising during the 49th Super Bowl was less about the ads themselves and more about the conversations that we’ve had around them.
After all, we all knew what ads were being shown during the Super Bowl because we watched them online a couple of days earlier.
Seven million proud Americans couldn’t wait, and watched the Budweiser Puppy within 24hrs of online release (currently the audience has watched it for 32 years in combined viewing time). The only comparable thing we have in the merry old UK is an old Christmas tradition of constantly checking YouTube for the arrival of a flippin’ penguin or a warm-hearted interpretation of the world’s worst war for a supermarket chain.
So conversations were had prior to the game. And note that every campaign was accompanied by a hashtag, so hopefully brands were being talked about (see Twitter for actual evidence of this). But even with a determined ‘social push’ brands still had to shell out a tasty $4.5 million for a 30-second national TV airing.
Maybe the extreme media costs made the resulting adverts on the whole, fairly safe.
There was some nice stuff from automotive. Mercedes with a Hare and the Tortoise theme – tortoise jumps into a Merc and burns the buck toothed wannabe. Pierce Brosnan enjoyed a low key blockbuster for Kia still being James Bond (in fairness it never did Roger Moore much harm) and BMW’s bit of celebrity endorsement in a self depreciating combo of Katie Couric and some other fella. They didn’t know what the internet was 20 years ago, and now they don’t understand a BMW i3 – shame on them!
Comedy also came in the form of personalities Danny ‘Machete’ Trejo and Steve Buscemi not being themselves in the Brady Bunch Snickers ad, which is quite funny and no doubt even funnier if you are American, over 50 and actually watched said Brady Bunch. Even Kim Kardashian of, err,… Kim Kardashian fame put in a comedy appearance for T Mobile and actually managed to make herself look less of an arse than usual. But probably best of all was the threatening Liam Neeson being a threatening Liam Neeson in an ad for Clash of Clans.
Cheese was fully represented as Coke broke the internet and made it all lovely, whilst McDonald’s exchanged orders for hugs with some McLovin’ (last seen in Superbad) and some frankly fairly feeble hidden camera surprise that would never work in the UK.
UK customer: “Big Mac please”
McDonalds person: “That is free if you hug your Dad”,
UK customer: “No thanks, I’m repressed and off to Burger King”.
There were even darker themes than bribing people to love one another for fast food rewards: a second ad from Nationwide about a dying boy – the internet didn’t like that one; Nissan made a car crash themed ad – again too much; whilst Fiat’s ‘Italians are sex obsessed’ ad as a car inadvertently pops a viagra and ‘gets bigger’ seemed to be sponsored by The Lad Bible…
Booze dominated, as ever, with an admittedly cute ‘all American’ follow up to last year’s Budweiser Puppy ad, which even had its own un-PC parody from GoDaddy (pulled at the last minute or never was going to run at all), and a stuntvertised Bud Light real human PacMan ad – which looked brilliant as an experience and less brilliant as an advert.
But probably the most interesting campaign was only shown regionally – ‘Band of Brands’ from Newcastle Brown.
This was the follow up to the exceptional ‘If we made it’ and I think suffered from difficult second album syndrome. The campaign was a little bit too clever for its own good, this time focusing on the media costs rather than production costs of broadcasting an ad.
Obviously every Newcastle Brown customer has an innate understanding of media budgets and their inner workings so this was massive fertile comedy ground…
So they ‘cheekily’ attempted to crash the now predictable and annual Doritos UGC Superbowl ad campaign by entering their own ad to the competition. Actually quite funny.
But then had the idea of clubbing together with other brands to share the media costs of a Super Bowl slot, which was fronted by a deliberately and understandably unenthusiastic Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation fame.
The final campaign execution was a little bit Left Shark (see Katy Perry’s half time dancing sharks) to last year’s much more coordinated Right Shark – but still a half decent attempt at disruption still dominated mainly by big media spenders and dull safe adverts.
Jo Davies is CEO and co-founder of ZAK Media Group