2014 Super Bowl Ads: the Winners and the Losers

Ahhhh…the allure of over 100 million viewers.  It would make any deep-pocket, consumer-facing company want to throw their brand in the mix.  At $4 million for a 30-second spot, I expected more from the advertisers.  My quick takes on the 2014 Super Bowl commercials:

What did they do for their brand?

Budweiser is still King.  Puppies, Clydesdales, iconic brand that still has its polish.

Cheerios kept its brand fresh with a memorable commercial, which included an interracial couple—still a rarity in ads despite the blending American population.

Bank of America and U2 kept their respective brands positive with a (RED) donation tie-in.  Free download for a good cause.  Smart.

Radio Shack reminded us that they’re still around, which is good because most of us have forgotten.

The Heinz commercial was memorable.  The Carmax commercial was forgettable.

H&M told us about their David Beckham line.  How can we forget Beckham—with or without his tidy whities.

Auto manufacturers spent the most but were a mixed bag.

Super Bowl ad time is about building brand.  Brand recall is essential and I don’t think most Americans remember which manufacturer had Muppets and which had the Matrix.  Volkswagen did a great job of reminding us that German engineering is keeping their brand at the head of the lifetime-value pack.  Chevrolet entertained with the romancing cows…and subtly reminded us that their trucks have great towing capacity.  Ford’s creative was underwhelming.  I guess Jaguar has more mass appeal now, given the volume cars like the X type and Maserati is pushing down to a more affordable ride with the Ghibli.  The latter two brands are not quite for the average household but they aim to push their brand into more households.

I dare you to recall which brand advertised the Doberman+Chihuahua ad.  (Don’t Google it until you have a guess.)  Funny commercial but for the multi-million dollar price tag, I want you to remember my ad.

New brands need to tie content to their brand.

Squarespace is relatively unknown—before and after the Super Bowl.  Their content should have told us more about what they stand for.  Chobani yogurt did a better job, with the bear looking for “natural ingredients.”  Dannon Oikos introduced humor and was a bit risqué with its ad.  The company got our attention with John Stamos but I think most Americans would be hard-pressed to recall which brand aired this commercial.  SodaStream got a big Hollywood start (Scarlett Johanssen) but their commercial fell flat (pun intended).  Beats is not a new brand but new-ish and they won.  Ellen Degeneres dancing to music.  Stellar!  Stephen Colbert sold some pistachios but for who?