Between Droga5’s Adverception and All of the Daddy Issues, This Year’s Super Bowl Ads are a Cheap Alternative to Therapy
January is quickly drawing to a close and in the advertising industry that means two things. The end of dry January… or the guilt of being unable to complete dry January… or (for the more pragmatically minded) fake dry January. The countdown to uninhibited public quaffing starts here. The second is the Super Bowl. Over the past two weeks the site has been a veritable scrum (look, you can make me write about the biggest event in the American Football calendar but you can’t make me pretend it’s anything other than soft play rugby) with the onslaught of XLIX advertising news. Normally it’s the sort of thing that would send this sports-phobic journo the teensy, tiniest bit crazy. This year, however, thanks to work from Droga5, TBWA and Saatchi and more, I might just keep my sanity.
You see, I’m not sure if we’re preparing ourselves with the most talked about night of advertising in 2015 or a brand-sponsored mass-therapy session. Warming up for team Freud (Siggie, Anna and frenemy Carl Jung), we’ve got an exploration of the ‘Father Complex’. Dads and their little dudes is set to be one of the big themes this year – it’s pretty unavoidable what with The Marketing Arm’s #RealStrength campaign for Dove, Saatchi & Saatchi LA’s ‘To Be a Dad’ for Toyota, and TBWA’s Nissan campaign that sees famous Youtubers (the baby prank guy and Epic Meal Time dudes) take on paternally-themed pranks and stunts. Plus Nissan’s #withdad campaign is also a clear case of some amusing arrested development going on, so extra Freud points for them.
But the psychotherapy and brain-shrinking doesn’t end there. Like the renowned B.F. Skinner before them, Energy BBDO has trapped a hapless subject in a maze, filming his process for all the world to observe. Only this isn’t a lab rat or a little white mouse – they’ve managed to coax subject A into said maze by convincing him that he’s part of an elaborate beer commercial. What would the research ethics board say? Who knows? But think of the insight! The progress! For Science!
Of course, while some brands are opting to treat the viewing public with the classic schools of psychology, there are others that have chosen to go down a more contemporary route. Droga5’s much-anticipated Newcastle Brown Ale #BandofBrands spot sees 37 ads spring to life within an ad, product placement within product placement. It’s all 2meta4me and if I think about it hard enough I suddenly feel myself awash with a certain mental blankness and a glow of transcendent awareness. Who knew ground-breaking (and shit-stirring) advertising could be such an effective tool for the hippest of all the contemporary therapies, mindfulness meditation? Follow that up with a dose of Dreaming With Jeff, the weirdly soothing Squarespace campaign from Wieden+Kennedy New York, and you’ve got a prescription for some blissed-out Zen states right there.
Scattered throughout the rest of the selection Danny Trejo demonstrates some anger management techniques in the surreal Brady Bunch Snickers teaser from BBDO, Budweiser goes full Nurse Ratched – err I mean sweet, understandably popular and not cloying or oppressive at all – with that fucking puppy and there’s a fairly half-assed attempt at sex therapy from Victoria’s Secret (the teaser spot was kind of playful and saw ‘the angels’ take the role of football players, the full ad’s a limp re-hash of old footage). And Buzzfeed! The listicle platform and publishing wunderkind has produced its first ever TV ad, a spin-off from its online video series ‘Dear Kitten’ for Friskies. And dang nabbit, if it’s not one of the most astute observations of systems theory and group dynamics to hit the world of social psychology? (Why not? They’ve already smashed the old media model and are dismantling the ad agency model armed only with memes and cats – they were bound to do the same with the walled garden of science publishing?).
So mark my words, Sunday night might be a pretty late one as we try to keep track of real time developments from the GMT time zone but Monday morning is *totally* going to be a breeze. After a night of profound psychological insight and therapeutic techniques this year the biggest game is bound to be a mind game.
Differential diagnosis: brands spend millions on trying to flog stuff to Americans, LBB editorial team remains, err, much the same but sleep deprived and craving unattainable US products.