Well, Super Bowl 51 has come and gone. Highlighted by one of the most ambitious half-time shows ever and arguably one of the greatest comebacks by any team maybe ever, which television ads do you remember, if any? Did any innovative packaging design stand out? In a brief conversation with Simon Thorneycroft, the Founder & CEO of Perspective: Branding, we discuss which brands broke through the noise to achieve the trifecta of branding (and Perspective’s approach to branding) and were visible, visceral or memorable. What was most memorable about Super Bowl LI.
CM: Simon, Super Bowl LI is over. Are there any ads we should still be talking about?
ST: More than anything else, that comeback win by the Patriots is memorable. They came back from being 25 points down! Does anyone even care about the ads after a performance like that?
CM: Maybe not. And there certainly were the usual suspects out there in ad land – lots of fuzzy animals and supermodels, actors and musicians. But what stood out for you?
ST: The companies that stood out this year from an advertising perspective took a stand against what is going on in the political arena. Business is pushing their view on immigration and acceptance, which is rather the opposite of what you’ve seen lately from the current President. You saw it with Airbnb and their #weaccept campaign, and the buzz around Anheuser-Busch and their company’s very personal immigration story involving its two founders. Maybe because they are based in the Bay Area, but I remember Google and their ad. It starts with the image of a rainbow flag and someone whistling “take me home” [a John Denver song] and cuts to images of families of all colors using their Home device. They used all the tools at their disposal – actors of all colors, songs of inclusion, recognized diversity and inclusion symbols – to convey their message of acceptance.
Business gets it. They can’t lock out their audience.
CM: Did any other ads leave you with a sense of visceral, visible, memorable or your VVM philosophy?
ST: I liked FORD’s Go Further ads. Maybe because it was remarkably long, what over a minute? [It clocked in at one minute, 30 seconds.] And they put people in uncomfortable situations but ones that every one of us can relate to. Its Memorable.
Other than that, I also want to mention the National Football League. They have had players embroiled in controversy this season for acceptance, for trying to be visible to the police, and yet, they, too, took a stand with their “Inside these Lines” ad. When the Super Bowl host organization is urging people to join together and “live united,” that is powerful.
Sadly, I don’t recall the name of the brand that poked fun at the President’s hair [“It’s a 10” hair care], so they missed out on memorability, but making fun of the President as a way to get attention – well, that’s quite remarkable.
CM: So, no kangaroos or celebrities were memorable this year?
ST: I laughed out loud at Justin Bieber dancing but that’s just it. Bieber is memorable and he has a well-established brand but if you don’t remember the company he’s pitching for, you’re just another very expensive Super Bowl ad, forgotten by Tuesday. (That one was for T-Mobile and also featured Patriot Rob Gronkowski, among other stars.)
The Super Bowl is a great way to talk about VVM, shorthand for Visible, Visceral and Memorable, or Thorneycroft’s three word toolkit for building a great brand. Quite often, the best Super Bowl ads stand out from the crowd, make you laugh out loud. This year, after years of superstars and fuzzy bear commercials, what stood out in the sea of Super Bowl ads, what was memorable was the theme of acceptance.