Did the Super Bowl Ads Live Up to the Hype?

by Steve Steger, 05 Feb 2019

Super Bowl commercials have become such a big part of the Sunday event — and so costly — that advertisers now try to get more mileage out of their investment. Often they tease their spots via YouTube and other social media channels in the weeks leading up to the game. However, in doing so, they run the risk of jumping the moment. Show too much of the spot, and it cuts into the excitement of seeing the spot during the game.

The trick is to reveal just enough to start a buzz and set the stage for the big day. Ideally, it’s the prelude. The reveal comes during the game. And then the follow-up stretches out during the hours, days and hopefully weeks that follow.

Four previews got lots of chatter this year. In the first, Stella Artois brought back Jeff Bridges’ legendary character “The Dude,” along with Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Carrie” from “Sex and the City.”

In the second, Pepsi challenged Coke head-on in its hometown of Atlanta. The previews consisted of short snippets introducing the featured stars: Lil Jon, Cardi B and Steve Carrell. They were pure tease.

The third was M&Ms’ preview. Christina Applegate is the victim of the car lockout game by (presumably) the M&Ms characters. Viewers don’t get to see who is in the car but, boy, is she annoyed. The drama was set for the reveal on Sunday.

Finally, The Backstreet Boys and Chance the Rapper teamed up to promote Doritos. Like Pepsi, they didn’t tip their hands to the content of the Super Bowl commercial. Instead, they showcased a fun dance snippet between the music stars.

Did the game day spots build on the tease and move the brand story forward? Were they as good as or better than the pre-game teasers?

Stella Artois: C

The commercial’s message (i.e., change is good) is right for a brand that’s chasing the big guys. But it didn’t move the story forward at all. They simply repeated the commercial shown in the tease. Seemed like a missed opportunity.

Pepsi: A

The soft drink went after a common practice by waitresses, asking if Pepsi is “OK” instead of a Coke. Carrell, Cardi B and Lil Jon brought the bling (or in Cardi’s case, the bedazzle) to make the point that, like puppies, Pepsi is more than OK. The game day spot paid off the tease nicely. Better yet, Pepsi paired the spot with the hash tag #PepsiMoreThanOK and tweeted throughout the game to build the buzz. Nice.

M&Ms: B

Yes, it is those naughty M&Ms who are tormenting Christina. The game day spot “bad passengers” built it out nicely and introduced the new M&M Chocolate bar.

Doritos: C

The dancing was nice. Of course, the music was great, but the message was pretty average. It seems like just more of the preview done better.

Sleeper of the Night: The NFL100 commercial just before the second half. Brady handing off his rings, Montana saying, “No can do, Cowboy,” and the table with Jim Brown and friends. The NFL stole their own show. In fact, the video on Twitter had 1.7M views before the end of the third quarter.

The Amazon Alexa preview and spot were noteworthy too: The preview revealing Harrison Ford in a beta test of Alexa (“I hate this already,” he observes) didn’t generate a lot of talk. But it was well done and the game day spot carried the storyline further, showing the silly conflict between Harrison and his dog who keeps ordering mass quantities of dog food, gravy and sausages via Alexa.

Which were your favorites? Was it Verizon’s first responder ad? Toyota’s commercial featuring Toni Harris, the aspiring female football player? Or something else entirely? Let us know!


Which were your favorites?

Let us know!