Intel Super Bowl Ad Sets Low Bar For Other Advertisers

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 19, 2017

As the first mover in releasing its Super Bowl ad early, Intel has the distinction of setting the bar for this year’s Super Bowl Advertisers. How did they do?

I’d give them a resounding “meh.”

Let’s first look at what they got right.


You can’t go wrong choosing Tom Brady. He’s a decorated athlete, handsome, and he may even be playing in the game itself. Getting a celebrity spokesperson is generally a win, and this particular pick is great for this ad.

Early Release

By being the first to release, Intel has a lot of things in their favor. Perhaps most tangibly, they have received dozens of media hits, which is substantially responsible for the hundreds of thousands of YouTube views they’ve already racked up. There are also lots of people who are curious enough about Super Bowl ads to search for them in Google, so they are probably getting traffic from that source as well.



Perhaps more importantly, releasing early is a little like being the first kid to present in your elementary school class, the opening band, or the warm-up comedian. Since no one has really delivered something amazing yet, you are judged purely by people’s past conceptions and expectations. If your material isn’t strong, you’ll be forgiven more easily than if you are the closing act, when people have a clear idea of what was possible. I think Intel was smart to go early.

Game Related

When you’re advertising to a football audience, telling them that you are providing the technology to make their viewing experience better has to generate some goodwill. So thank you, Intel, from all of us, for providing a cool new technology to make those of us that are watching the Super Bowl from home feel that much more immersed in the game.

As for what they got wrong:

Product Choice

Yeah, I just praised them for choosing a game day-related technology. But overall I still think it was the wrong choice. The camera system that they are sharing isn’t something individual consumers can buy. It’s not even something most corporations have a use for. So I think they really lose out on connecting their ad to people’s everyday experiences and needs. Intel probably provides chips for a lot of other game day technologies, from the chips in TVs, to the chips in tablets that the teams use, and many other things besides. Had they chosen to focus on any of those things, then it would be a lot easier for people to see how the brand affects them personally more than just once a year.

Call To Action

Yes, I understand brand advertising. Not every commercial has to say, “Buy our widget!” But this ad doesn’t ask the viewer to do anything. For example, it could have asked them to visit a website where they could learn more about what went into developing the technology and getting it ready for game day. And if they’d chosen to highlight a consumer technology, they could have asked viewers to do something even further along the buying cycle.

Humor and Execution

The punchline was okay, but not a laugh-out-loud moment, at least for me.

As for the rest of the ad, I like the idea of showing the technology outside of the football arena, in everyday life. But I think choosing the most boring time of day, and the most boring things happening during that time, was the wrong strategy. Again, I get that was the point: the technology makes even boring things look interesting. But they didn’t actually look that interesting. They could have had the dog knock Brady over. They could have had him in a romantic moment with his wife. Anything even slightly more epic and interesting would have taken the commercial up a level, and done more to showcase the real value of the technology.

So yeah. Maybe the headline and my “meh” summary are a little harsh. This commercial does some things right. But the things it does wrong keep it firmly in the category of good, not great.

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