Lessons Learned From Super Bowl Ads

The Superbowl isn’t just the biggest day of the year for football. It’s the biggest day of the year for branding and advertising. Every company puts their best foot forward in an attempt to wow consumers and the competition.

And although the Superbowl is reserved for big brands with big budgets there are still valuable lessons we can learn from the big boys.

1. Nostalgia Is In

The Superbowl ads were very much focused on the past instead of the future. Marylin Monroe was in not one but two commercials, The Budweiser clydesdales were galloping once again, Pokemon celebrated their 20th anniversary and Audi tapped into everyone’s childhood fantasy of becoming an astronaut.

Lesson learned:

Innovation is always important, but so is heritage. Knowing who you are as a brand, and reminding your customers of your identity deepens the your relationship and customers as well as their level of comfort with you.

2. Humor Is Hit Or Miss

This year’s “funny” commercials were pretty polarizing and most left a lot to be desired. We don’t know about you, but the “PuppyMonkeyBaby” left us frightened, not laughing.

Additionally we saw babies flying out of wombs for a bag of Doritos, fields of “wiener” dogs and that was just the first half. Interestingly enough, although the “PuppyMonkeyBaby” by Mountain Dew was one of the most polarizing spots, it was also the most shared, ranking number 1 for social shares and other social impression metrics.

Lesson learned:

Humor is completely dependent on an agreed upon point of view between the audience and the speaker. In other words, what you think is funny might not be funny to someone else and vice-versa. Humor is polarizing, and that’s a good thing for marketing. A great message doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but rather resonate highly with a certain segment. Mountain Dew knows who drinks their product, and they made a real impression on them.

3. Brands Are A Touch Sensitive

The Super Bowl 50 commercials for Buick, Mini and Toyota all carry whiffs of defensiveness: A guy is surprised that a cool convertible is a Buick, Randy Johnson wants you to know he really can fit inside a Mini, and the cops chasing robbers in a Prius warn dispatch that “this thing is actually pretty fast.” And that’s just the car companies. T-Mobile used Verizon’s own rolling ball shtick against them and Budweiser took on the microbrewers nipping at their clydesdalian hooves.

Lesson learned:

No one is going to change your reputation but you. If there are misconceptions about your business, change them. If your competitors are encroaching on your space, push them back. You have the ability to control how you are perceived so be thoughtful and strategic with your marketing and branding efforts in order to create a brand that is positioned for maximum growth.