The scent of chicken wings and hoppy beverages lingering in the air can only mean one thing—it’s Super Bowl time! And that means it’s time for the annual Time + Space Super Bowl blog post. Last year, Clare Tidy tackled the topic of politically charged ads. This year, in the spirit of teamwork, we asked Time + Spacers to name their favourite Super Bowl commercials and tell us why it holds a special place in their heart.
So reheat those leftover pigs-in-blankets and settle in for a recap of the best of the best from our resident advertising armchair quarterbacks.
EDS’ Cat Herders
Will Beyer, Manager, Client Strategy, is throwing it back with an old school favourite from Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, with “Herding Cats”. He says, “Although a B2B tech company, EDS decided to make a big splash in the hopes of reaching an audience they wouldn’t be able to with word of mouth or trade magazines. The ad was both funny and playfully accurate to their business offering - managing your company’s complex IT needs. It gained massive amounts of earned media coverage and was even mentioned by then President Bill Clinton. According to CBC’s Under the Influence, the ad caused EDS’ sales to jump 20% year over year, and new business rose by 40%.”
Olay Killer Skin
Women make up almost half of Super Bowl viewership but, until recently, have been ignored by advertisers. Last year, the percentage of ads where women played a "significant" role fell to 34 percent from 43 percent. This year was marked by an emergence of women in leadership roles in ads. From Serena Williams teaming up with Bumble for the “The Ball Is in Her Court” commercial to Toyota’s ad starring Toni Harris, a sophomore football player at East Los Angeles College in California who aspires to be the first female NFL player, women are finally getting some serious screen time in Super Bowl ads.
This is why our Manager of Content Management, Bobbi MacInnis, was excited to see Olay getting in the game with its first ever Super Bowl commercial. “Sarah Michelle Gellar slays in her Olay “Killer Skin” ad. It’s amazing to see empowered women finally breaking into this traditionally male-dominated ad space. Gellar was the perfect choice for this ad. Her skin looks just as fabulous as it did during her Buffy days, and this ad totally pays homage to her scream queen heritage in Scream 2 and IKWYDLS. Olay #KillerSkin FTW!”
It’s a Tide Ad
Mark Smith, Coordinator, Client Strategy, reckons that his all-time favourite Super Bowl ad is “It’s a Tide Ad” from 2018, and this year’s ads pale by comparison. “I just love how Tide managed to take nearly every commonly used TV advertisement trope- from razors to beer to cars- and connect them together through the one thing they usually have in common, which is clothing. They put a unique spin on these traditionally boring ads with the surprise reveal: this ad isn’t for the product you think, but for Tide! Strategically placing their commercials throughout the duration of the Super Bowl kept viewers on their toes for the next one, as any ad that appeared could be from Tide. This was undoubtedly effective when you consider that Tide was grabbing the attention of potential consumers even when they were viewing other brands’ commercials, massively increasing their share of voice.”
Pepsi’s More Than OK
Paria Jamshidi, Coordinator, Client Strategy, thinks this year’s Pepsi ad poking fun at the most asked question at restaurants (“Is Pepsi OK?”) really popped. “Pepsi is capitalizing on the long-time comparison to their competitor, Coca Cola, by taking advantage of an everyday occurrence with their brand experiences in restaurants across the world. Pepsi really hit it out of the park, connecting with viewers by featuring the always-hilarious Steve Carrell, and of course Lil Jon and Cardi B’s iconic use of “okay”. It was a risky move to showcase what could be perceived as a negative aspect of their brand but by spinning it into something positive, Pepsi drove home the message that they’re better than their biggest competitor.”
Miller High Life 1 Second Ad
Aidan Roy, Coordinator, Client Strategy (and self-proclaimed beverage critic), has fond memories from Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. “The 1 second Miller High Life commercial is my favourite Super Bowl commercial of all time because it perfectly epitomizes how brands can get the most bang for their buck. It begged the question of why brands would spend millions of dollars to produce a thirty second commercial when a low-budget, one second ad shot in a company warehouse would do the trick better. I was twelve years old when this ad aired so it was clearly memorable even beyond the target audience, since it still sticks with me ten years later. I'm going to give this commercial 4.5 stars. Their beer? 3 stars.”
Game of Thrones X Bud Light
For Shawn Lowe, VP Growth & Partnerships, there’s no contest on this year’s winner of the best Super Bowl ad.
For those who watched the game and didn’t fall asleep, the Game of Thrones spot hit the mark in a major way for so many reasons. Earlier in the game, Bud Light took some serious shots at their competitors, calling to light their use of corn syrup. The Bud Light spots were A+ also but as the Game of Thrones spot started, I was in a full out “lean in” mode watching the ad and I was convinced it was a pure continuation of the past spots.
Cue the dragons…
Great coordination between the brands, a memorable spot.
Michael Bublé vs bubly
According to VP Client Strategy, Clare Tidby, if your brief was: “build awareness of a new product and position it as sophisticated but fun”, then you might get Michael Bublé to make some jokes about the name.
The flavoured sparkling water market is growing; 19% of Americans reported they drank it in 2017 and PepsiCo’s ‘bubly’ has 8% greater purchase intent than its competitors. In the first few weeks of its launch in early 2018, it took 5% of the US sparking water market – and has grown the category demand. Still, it’s a relatively small market for Pepsi (who’s core soda market is in decline), and there’s a lot of consumer education required. It’s for this reason they’ve been doing huge awareness plays (including launching at the Oscars with an endorsement by Neil Patrick Harris and then this big Superbowl push with Michael Bublé). It’s not the best ad in the history of the Superbowl, but likely very effective in growing awareness and affinity.
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