Ok, I confess: I didn’t watch the Superbowl on Sunday. Actually, I haven’t watched a Super Bowl in several years—the last one I actually watched all the way through with interest was Super Bowl XXXI, when the Green Bay Packers killed the Patriots 35-21 back in 1997. And even then, I still didn’t care that much, since my favorite team (The Miami Dolphins) wasn’t playing.
However, since that time, even though my interest in football has waned, I have avidly watched most Super Bowls… not for the game, but (ironically) for the commercials that play during the game. I say ironic because for most other people with sanity, the point of watching TV is to watch your intended program and then turn the TV off or set it to mute during the commercials, so you can ignore them. However, the Super Bowl, as most people probably know, has become a sort of mother-of-all-opportunities or “Holy Grail” for video advertisements in the USA. (Actually, in the world over, since the Super Bowl is one of the world’s most-watched televised events).
Since I work in marketing, I’ve been keeping my eye on these ads with keen interest, since advertising is a big part of what marketing is all about. I think some of the most innovative ad campaigns of all time have come out of the Super Bowl (Apple’s 1984 Ad, the Budweiser Frogs, “Where’s The Beef?,“ “Old Spice Man” and many more); however I’m disappointed to report that these ads have been on a serious decline in recent years. ..and you know that a TV show has really gone downhill when not even the commercials are worth watching.
Rather than just complain and be negative, I figured I’d point out who I think the winner was, and why. Full disclosure: I don’t own a TV, so I didn’t watch the Super Bowl or any of the commercial, live. I did, however, watch every single one of the nearly 50 commercials the next day on the internet.
So, for anyone interested, here is my very opinionated verdict which TV commercial was the winner. In my opinion, the one that stood out above the rest was—by far—Best Buy, with their “Asking Amy” commercial.
It’s a winner, by a long shot. And not just because I like Best Buy; it wins hands-down because it has all the elements of a good commercial. The team behind this ad thought about everything. Here are a few quick (and non-exhaustive) reasons why:
- They set up the perfect scenario (a potential customer interacting with their staff in their store).
- The customer is believable (even though she’s being silly, her questions are, honestly, pretty realistic. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been asked “Am I on the cloud?”?).
- It showcases their company in the best light possible (it portrays Best Buy employees as experts in their field who are polite, patient and knowledgeable).
- It is very well branded (unlike lots of other commercials, you’ll never ask yourself “Who was that commercial for again?” — it’s clearly about Best Buy).
- It is funny and memorable (“Can you read me Fifty Shades of Grey in a sexy voice?” — that is hilarious!)
- It showcases their best products (i.e. you now know that Best Buy carries smartphones, headphones, dryers, flat panel TVs, digital cameras, laptops, ebook readers, and much more).
- It establishes Best Buy as the industry experts and “the place to go” for consumer electronics.
- It has a clear, but nearly subconscious call to action (translation: “Go to Best Buy… they have lots of cool electronics and gadgets… you know you want to…”).
So what about all the others? Well, they didn’t fare so well in my view. I counted two others that I though were decent (Audi: Prom, and Century 21: Wedding), five that were OK: (M&Ms: Love Ballad, Oreo: Whisper Fight, Prudential: Stickers, Tide: Miracle Stain, VW: Get In, Get Happy). The rest of them were really sad to watch. Most were boring, uninspired, a waste of effort, and some were just downright gross (Surprise: GoDaddy).
I’ll never understand why companies spend so much money on ads that make their brands look ridiculous, and fail to create any meaningful message. A good commercial should communicate a clear message and convey the value behind the brand, or create a sense of loyalty (Dodge Ram‘s commercial came close in this regard, but I still think it didn’t live it to its’ potential).
Oh well. I’ll just keep watching and hoping we’ll see another showstopper someday, but we certainly didn’t get one this year. I’m still waiting for another reprise of TRULY noteworthy campaigns, like Reebok’s “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker”—one of the best I’ve ever seen (see below).