Don’t mess with AngryNeeson52
However, the Kellogg students quickly identified this year’s worst ad: Square State’s “Dream with Jeff” ad featuring Jeff Bridges chanting “om” throughout the 30-second spot.
Square Space – Dreaming with Jeff
“For the first five seconds, I’m kind of interested,” Rucker concedes. “But you need to have a payoff for the consumer. And the payoff of ‘Go see Square Space’ – that’s not a payoff. It’s not motivating. I’m not interested.”
From the ADPLAN framework perspective, the linkage was weak. “The positioning was unclear,” Rucker observes. “What are you trying to convey? – Why are you doing this? What’s good about the product? This is one where the grand concept, starting with Jeff Bridges, got my early attention. But you don’t have the follow through on any of the other strategic elements.”
ADVERTISERS TARGET EMOTIONS WHILE PLAYING IT SAFE
In recent years, the emergence of social media has changed the advertising landscape, with advertisers building large scale online campaigns to produce consumer activity both before and after the game. This year, the ads went away from what Rucker calls the “typical clever, cute, funny, and even a little controversial” spots, relying instead of serious themes and stories.
“I cannot remember a Super Bowl in so many years where brands try to play the emotional routes,” Rucker declares. And that may be a case of brands chasing what’s effective. “Brands are smart,” Rucker points out. “If you look back a few years, the emotional ads were the ones that stood out.” As a result, brands are copycatting each other. However, Rucker wonders how long this trend will last. “Next year, the emotional approach will make it hard to stand out since everyone is doing that.”
However, students foresee a danger in this trend. Rahmaninejad was thrilled that advertisers were speaking more to social responsibility. However, she started to feel that the sentiments were becoming commercialized despite their intentions. “As soon as everyone jumps on the bandwagon,” Rahmaninejad sighs, “it starts to feel inauthentic.” And she wasn’t alone, as Wei-Leun Hwang wondered about Coca-Cola’s commitment to stopping bullying. “Is Coke doing anything or just exploiting it?”
The state of the NFL itself may have influenced advertisers. Plagued by domestic violence incidents among popular players like Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the league experienced greater scrutiny in 2014. “Going in, I think brands were playing it safer this year,” Rucker says. “Given all the missteps off the field, and the negative publicity the NFL has gotten, Consumers are really watching… You don’t want an ad to be interpreted in light of everything else.” While Rucker points out that the strategy behind the commercials were stronger than last year, he wonders if there was a tradeoff due to greater caution. “They may have lost a little of the creative edge.”
Then again, the pivot away from juvenile sensibilities may also reflect advertisers’ growing awareness of who the Super Bowl’s audience really is. “I was frustrated with Super Bowl advertisers for failing to realize that we’re basically getting closer and closer to a 50/50 split between men and women,” Rucker admits. “To only advertise to men is shortsighted.”
Here is Kellogg’s behind the scenes video on the Super Bowl Advertising Review
Here are some additional spots that earned high marks with Kellogg students:
Fiat – Blue Pill
Always – #LikeAGirl
Clash of Clans – Revenge