Today the value of a spot in the “Big Game” is as much about the pre-game buzz as the actual unit purchased. But this year there were some notable holdouts who kept their best for between kick off and final score.
SERVING BOTH MASTERS
Teaser spots were big this year which, if done well, gives a brand the best of both worlds — you get the early buzz factor without losing the impact of the big reveal. Yet many of the brands releasing teaser spots went right on and released their full spots online days before the game. (NOTE: my links and view counts are purely from the brand’s YouTube channels, so the data is not complete.)
Michael Bublé for Bubly might be the most obvious celebrity endorsement since JT sung for Bai. The crooner has a subtle, endearing sense of humor as he argues with convenience store patrons about the pronunciation of the brand’s name. And the squeak of his Sharpie makes for the ideal stinger.
BUBLY vs. Bublé
Total views as of kickoff: 69,813
The teasers with Lil’ John and Cardi B were a bit odd in my opinion, but Steve Carrell silently reading the script, then laughing, was super endearing (even if it was a bit self-serving to the copywriter). But Carrell shines in the full spot, with his proclamation that Pepsi is more than just OK. Wearing their challenger status proudly, this one was better in the first viewing than during the game. But then again, Steve Carrell.
Total views as of kickoff: 531,451
Mars had the patience of a five-year-old, putting out their teaser and full spots nearly back to back. Too bad, because Christina Applegate as a frazzled mom losing her sh*t with the “kids” in the car was really funny – the first time.
Total views as of kickoff: 140,849
Jeff Bridges generated 10M+ views two weeks before the game when he Tweeted a short clip of himself as The Dude. Was a Big Lebowski sequel in the works? The 2.3.19 date at the end of the clip should have clued in rabid fans, and the buzz dimmed when the full spot was released. The hype was not real, man (but the disappointment was). Carrie Bradshaw’s teaser kind of got lost in the shuffle.
It’s an odd pairing, but the spot is clever and engaging enough to forgive. And they threw in an unexpected cameo for the Big Game so even those who had seen the spot previously got a nice surprise. (BTW, every Stella purchase until the end of March provides a month of clean drinking water to someone who doesn’t have it (via water.org).
Change Up the Usual
Full spot airing during the game:
Total views as of kickoff: 12,737,442
This year saw more spots targeting women than before (even though nearly half NFL fans are female). In the past, only a quarter of advertising dollars were spent on the demo. But things, they are a’ changing, and so Olay makes its Big Game debut. Winning for most teasers, with five plus an “official trailer,” Olay saw a ton of pre-game buzz with its horror-driven spot featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Total views as of kickoff: 13,295,939
Three short teaser spots featuring Harrison Ford, Forest Whitaker, and astronaut twins the Kelly brothers, made us think these celebrities might be beta testing some kind of new product for Amazon, but alas, it was all in fun. The full spot highlights some ideas for Alexa tie-ins that just didn’t work out, while showing just how much of the planet is run by Amazon. Kind of terrifying, actually.
Not Everything Makes the Cut
Total views as of kickoff: 28,722,252
NO TEASE NECESSARY
Not every pre-released spot had a teaser, and there were two that really won the pre-game buzz in my book:
Beginning with something every golf fan has said at least once in their life, this guy talks back to the TV and discovers that everything in life is listening to him … the payoff is nice and the funny touches throughout keep the viewer engaged.
Say the Word
Total views as of kickoff: 1,631,855
The title kind of says it all. I don’t even want to prep this too much, because the PG version that aired during the game just doesn’t do the concept justice. Check out the uncensored long form below. Hardly #NSFW, but it might make some more tender viewers uncomfortable. You’ve been warned.
Food Porn – uncut online version
Total views as of kickoff: 14,827,777
THE PRE-GAME WINNER
As of kickoff, Amazon won on the pre-game views, with over 28M. Humorous, strong use of celebrity, and, well, Queen, made for the perfect combo.
The Entertainment industry seems to get it – holding all of their trailers until the game. From Marvel’s Avengers to Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, the studios made a big splash. And Hulu went meta pivoting from a Regan-esque “Morning in America” message to a collective WTH with their Handmaid’s Tale S3 Trailer. Despite being the host network, only CBS All Access scored big. A Jordan Peele Twilight Zone? Yes, PLEASE.
HULU – Handmaid’s Tale
Avenger’s End Game
So how about those brands that elected to hold their spots until the game? Let’s take a look:
Well, they held out until the first minutes of Feb 3. As of its official airing in the 2nd quarter, the spot only had around 40k views, but it had only been posted for 18 hours. One of the few brands that chose to tug the heart-strings, Google highlighted their translation service with the relatively quiet but beautifully written “100 Billion Words.”
Google’s second spot during the game had released three days earlier, promoting job searches for veterans. Of the two, this one earned more goosebumps.
Tapping into the 24-hour news cycle of depressing headlines and fear mongering, Simpli Safe does a solid job of reminding us that despite the threat of epidemics, spy drones, AI takeovers, and toxic food, there is one way to sleep well at night. The teaser gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the full spot, and the full spot delivered.
Fear is Everywhere
T-Mobile spent their budget on music, apparently, with a series of spots that included both Lyft and Taco Bell tie-ins. If not for T-Mobile pretty owning their shade of pink, the spots could have been any cellular provider. And the use of basic meme copy was about as engaging as a championship game score in the single digits.
We’ll Keep This Brief
What’s for Dinner
Coming right out of the revealing halftime Adam Levine love fest, Toyota revealed their super-secret Supra spot – relaunching the super sexy Toyota Supra. A classic track from The Who, a giant pinball machine, and some fancy stunt driving make for a decent relaunch. Would it have been as good if seen previously? Who knows?
Continuing their current medieval campaign, the brand’s Big Game series evoked a Lord of the Rings journey and a tie-in that no doubt had Game of Thrones fans on their feet. Oh, and a Trojan horse and some bowl haircuts. Despite the weak third and fourth spots, Bud Light won the big reveal game.
Joust (Bud Light Channel)
Joust (Game of Thrones Channel)
DUDE, WHAT’S WITH THE ROBOTS?
Clearly, robots or some variety of technology/AI fear factor was a theme with a strong showing. Beyond the ones listed above, we had:
The spot of the game may have well come from the NFL itself, celebrating its 100th season. Leading in to halftime and featuring a who’s who of football legends, the spot was better than the halftime show, and a smorgasbord of cameos that guaranteed lots of pause button action.
The local pediatric hospital ran a D/FW regional spot that got some national pre-game coverage – and for good reason. It’s a beautiful, moving way to launch a new campaign.
Children Go All In.
Andy Warhol eating a Whopper. And that’s all. The Google searches for #EatLikeAndy didn’t take you here, but this link has the back story. And it’s kinda amazing.
In a low-scoring, snoresville of a game, the ads ended up the only entertainment – especially when the game didn’t seem to start until seven minutes from its end. But hey, at least it wasn’t a blow-out.
KIM SMITH is a creative director at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile, and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on any of our more than 300 posts.
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