In this, my 12th year covering this major American cultural event from a marketing perspective for Colorado and national media, I have to say that I really enjoyed a lot of the ads this year, moreso than in years past. Here are some overall observations:
*The game attracted 7.1% fewer viewers this year, and Super Bowl viewership actually peaked in 2015. Both regular season attendance and viewership have been declining since then and, not coincidentally, the cost of a 30 second advertising spot has held steady at a cool $5 million since 2015. It's all interrelated. One would expect that the cost of an ad in the future would eventually begin to fall if viewership continues to wane.
*Brand builders Coke and Budweiser largely fell flat this year with some fairly weak and sometimes confusing creative output. In fact Coke received one of the lowest ratings of all for its "Mango Girl" ad, a listless appeal to weight-sconscious Millennials. Bud did a nice commercial about a plant bottling water instead of beer in anticipation of a natural disaster, but the Bud Light ad made very little sense. I didn't understand the concept of the battle ot the knight, especially in the context of the previous ads we have seen from this campaign. We expect more from these big brands. Dilly dilly.
*Marketers for the most part steered clear of divisive political issues although the second half in particular seemed inundated with social messaging. Dodge Ram did one that featured an MLK voice over that was absolutely shredded on social media, and Toyota did a series of rather drippy emotional appeals. Hyundai did one too. I can't remeber what they were about. T-Mobile did an ad that featured a series of babies with a diversity-oriented message, but marketers made zero connection with the message in the ad and the brand. That's a no-no.
*The highest quality ads appeared in the first half of play when viewership is typically highest with excellent showings from Amazon, Tide, Sprint, the NFL, a very funny Mountain Dew/Doritos co-op ad, M&M's, Avaocados de Mexico, and others. Alexa losing her voice was the hands-down favorite by both experts and amateur ad watchers alike, a rare point of agreement.
*NBC used the game to run well over a dozen spots for its own shows, movies and those of its partners, rather than take the $5 million per; this is certainly a nod to what marketers at the major broadcaster think about using the Super Bowl as a marketing communication medium. That should be encouraging for branded product advertisers looking at using the game as a vehicle in the future.
*There really seemed to be far less online engagement this year with fewer ads previewed on websites before the game as well as a noticeable lack of social media and other Internet integration. Maybe marketers are finding all of this online integration distracting to the message despite the lure and obvious benefits of online engagement. This is interesting if it's true. Indeed it looked like marketers did more research this year, perhaps spending more money and time conducting focus groups rather than using the rather unscientific "Internet-of-public opinion". Lots of outliers on the Internet. Not good data much of the time. Perhaps better research was a reason that ad quality was higher this year. Or maybe it's just my imagination.
Discussion: Which ads resonated with you and why? Do you think the ad quality was bit higher this year?
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