You can’t argue with the fact that Super Bowl ads were markedly different this year. The $4.5 million price tag for a 30-second spot deterred many seasoned advertisers from participating. There were fewer auto brands advertising, and since they often produce some of the most memorable work, the tone of the advertising shifted.
The absence of veterans left room for 15 first-time advertisers to air spots during the game, the most since the height of the dot-com bubble in 2000. While newbies like Wix.com and Skittles produced fun and light-hearted ads very much in line with our traditional concept of Super Bowl advertising, there were first-timers like nonprofit NO MORE (which works toward an end to domestic violence) and Always that produced much more emotional work.
It’s that emotion most people are referring to in their reviews of the ads. Some have called it the #BummerBowl. Yes, that Nationwide ad in which a child was killed was a huge bummer. But, on the whole, the advertising during the game is reflective of what we as viewers watch online throughout the year.
Time doesn’t exist in :15s, :30s, and :60s online, so viewers expect brands to develop something more than an ad; they expect brands to create stories. The most successful of these stories -- the ones that we share and talk about -- either surprise viewers or really play to their emotions.
Not only does this type of content get views, it’s also noticed by the media all year round. Coverage of advertising outside of industry publications used to be limited to the Super Bowl, but now it’s not uncommon to see a video campaign debated in major publications around the world.
Emotional content sparks conversation and encourages sharing. Brands know this because it’s easy to track engagement of online content, more so than TV content. With the emphasis placed on online viewing before and after the Super Bowl, is it any wonder that brands are using those creative strategies that bring them success the rest of the year online, on TV as well.
The new big creative trend at the Super Bowl year was celebrating Dad. It’s a trend that we’ve seen happening online since the summer with CPG brands -- Cheerios in particular. Nissan and Toyota’s dad-centric campaigns both paid off with not a dry eye in the house. Both landed on the top 10 campaigns chart, below, as a result. Dove Men was another brand to join in the trend, re-airing its Father’s Day ad.
Budweiser's "Lost Dog"
Bud Light's "Super Bowl 2015"
Snickers' "The Brady Bunch"
Nationwide's "Invisible Mindy"
BMW's "Newfangled Idea"
Mercedes-Benz's "The Big Race"
Toyota's "Super Bowl 2015"
While Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” and Coca-Cola’s “#MakeItHappy” both stick with the uplifting themes so popular in online content, and Bud Light uses a stunt that would play just as well on social networks as it would on TV, much of the rest of the list consists of relatively traditional Super Bowl campaigns with celebrities and funny punch lines.
Still, it was the emotional content that people were talking about days later. Even if reviews were mixed, isn’t the important thing that folks were still talking about it?