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Top 5 – Prosekians Select Their Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Denvol Haye

This year, more than 111 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl 51. Depending on which side of the field you were on, emotions of excitement or sheer grief likely followed Tom Brady’s epic overtime victory against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Although, if you’re anything like us, you spent equally as much time criticizing Super Bowl commercials as you did harping at Kyle Shanahan’s decision not to run the ball in the 4th quarter when up by 8 points against Tom Brady (c’mon, dude). But we digress, for advertisers, this plethora of eyeballs creates an annual, unique opportunity to effectively market their brands to a wide range of consumers. There’s no wonder why the average 30-second spot in Super Bowl 51 cost advertisers a whopping $5 million, resulting in this year’s total ad spend topping $385 million.

As natural brand ambassadors, a few Prosekians compiled our thoughts on some of the best, worst and most impactful commercials from the Super Bowl. The following ads either made us laugh, cry, self-reflect, reminisce, or all of the above, but more importantly, helped us better understand how brands are communicating with their target audiences.  

  1. Audi’s “Daughter” commercial effectively addressed the ongoing debate about gender and pay equality. As a society, we’re increasingly paying closer attention to this issue and will hold corporations more accountable to disband any policies or practices that play into gender inequality.
  1. For all the early 70s babies, we’re sure you were thrilled to see the return of Bud Light’s faithful pooch, Spuds McKenzie. Bud Light did something unique by tapping into the nostalgia of one segment of their consumer base. We envision a bunch of Gen X’ers grabbing for a Bud Light saying, “here’s to Spuds!” and we can all cheers to that.
  1. We wouldn’t be the financial communications pros that we are if we didn’t shout out to H&R Block’s “With IBM Watson” ad. If you ever thought taxes were boring, you were right. However, in this case, H&R Block does the opposite. By incorporating images that help us envision IBM Watson’s cognitive process, and emphasizing the due diligence the company takes in tax preparation; the ad effectively establishes H&R Block as a cutting-edge player in the space. Furthermore, the commercial serves a bit of a dual purpose as a pseudo-marketing spot for the Watson computer, something we’re sure was well received by the IBM team.
  1. Not many other commercials dabbled with as much political and social controversy as Coca Cola’s “America is Beautiful” and Airbnb’s “We Accept” ads. These commercials took a firm stance on the belief that this country, founded by immigrants, is great in its diversity and inclusion of people from all walks of life. However, our questions is (and there’s no wrong answer here): is, or is it not, the right thing to do? To an extent, connecting to overarching social issues can certainly help to humanize your brand and forge better relationships with your audience. Though in any case, brands should be mindful of the potential pitfalls of associating business with controversial issues and where they may need to draw the line. In some cases, this could lead to unwanted attention, or even worse, an unfavorable view of the brand.          
  1. Finally, and this particular ad has gotten mixed reviews across the agency, is Mr. Clean’s “Cleaner of Your Dreams” ad. For those of you who missed it, the commercial depicts a slightly more risqué Mr. Clean essentially seducing a woman with his…cleanliness? Some say it’s hilarious, others think it was a little too provocative, but in the end, the ad did exactly what it set out to do: be memorable. In a year where many ads tried to tackle serious issues, it was refreshing to see that some advertisers still remember that most viewers are tuning into the Super Bowl for five hours of pure entertainment, and that humor is still one of the most effective methods of advertising.

One final point, as financial services communicators, it would be a disservice not to point out that outside of the standard and obligatory showing from tax services like H&R Block and Turbo Tax, financial services companies were absent amongst advertisers this year. This is in contrast to last year’s duel between the Broncos and Panthers, which was the highest ever showing of financial marketers including Social Finance, SunTrust Banks, Intuit, Quicken Loans and PayPal. Reasons for this are still unclear, but apparently, there wasn’t a need to return to this year’s big stage.

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