First off, CONGRATS to the Denver Broncos on the Super Bowl win! Since my mom is from Denver, there was no denying who we would be rooting for in my house. The win was well deserved and I am excited Peyton Manning got the win (even if Eli was shocked on the last touchdown drive. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the Bleacher Report article here)
However, let’s talk about the real reason people watch the Super Bowl – and no, I’m not talking about Beyonce. The commercials.
Super Bowl commercials are known for being hilariously captivating to their watchers. Don’t we all love the relationship between the puppy and Clydesdale in the Budweiser commercials (even if it didn’t make the cut this year)? These commercials come into focus for how successful their advertisements are, mainly the reaction they cause among their audience. If you’re a company and you are willing to pay $5 million for a 30-second spot, you better be able to deliver to your audience.
With a world consumed with social media, these companies are instantly able to know how well their commercials performed. So here are what I have found to be Super Bowl 50 advertising success, shocks and failures.
Remember the PR failure that came on the Miss Universe pageant when Steve Harvey accidentally named the wrong winner? Well T-Mobile banked on that to make what was, in my opinion, one of the most successful commercials of the Super Bowl. The reprise of Steve Harvey’s blunder at the Miss Universe is used by T-Mobile to advertise they now have 97 percent of Verizon’s coverage – correcting the colored balls used in a Verizon commercial to show which provider has the most coverage. T-Mobile used a PR mishap to create an effective commercial for their company. Easy coverage for both T-Mobile and Steve Harvey (sorry, Drake).
Face it – as WEIRD as Mountain Dew’s puppy-monkey-baby commercial was, it broke the Internet. Everyone was talking about it. In a roundabout way, the shock value undoubtedly became a PR success for Mountain Dew (and hey, maybe that is what they were going for all along). Personally, the commercial freaked me out but I cannot deny it grasped my attention. While I am not sure how well the Mtn Dew Kickstart drink will continue to sell, viewers were acknowledging that the commercial existed. Think back to the Nationwide commercial from last year – while people were not happy about the depiction of a deceased child, they were still talking about the company.
A commercial that was widely circulated along the East Coast but received outrageously negative comments was Colonial Williamsburg. While taking their viewers on a trip of foundational moments in United States history, the historical foundation used footage from the 9/11 attacks which quickly spiked the tempers of those who saw it. The use of macabre was, for me, eerily reminiscent of the macabre celebrations found in Renaissance Europe. Many people tweeted their disgust at Colonial Williamsburg for using the horror of the attack to sell tourism. While Colonial Williamsburg spokesperson, Joe Straw, quoted my favorite Shakespeare line “What is past is prologue” in defense of the commercial which the foundation is choosing to stand behind, I have to wonder what types of focus groups, if any, the foundation used before airing the commercial. While I understand the foundation is trying to emphasize the ways the U.S. has both overcome tragedy and embraced triumph, I believe there are better ways to depict that fateful day – such as showing Ground Zero or The Freedom Tower in New York. The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is this year, there are still those who choose to join the military because of these attacks, and while I agree with the foundation that we should never forget our tragedies, there are always other possibilities to memorialize 9/11 without reliving the terror of one of the darkest days to strike this nation.
While there are definitely many more commercials from the Superbowl that struck me, these are the ones that resonate with me the most, and appear to receive some outspoken reactions from the audience. The important thing to remember with these advertisements is it is not only how your company responds to the ad but how the public will as well. Now it will be interesting to see the types of PR these companies receive from their commercials. I guess we will have to stay tuned…
P.S. Lady Gaga did an incredible job singing the national anthem, the Blue Angels flyover gave me chills, and I want her shoes!