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Focus - Deep-dive into key sectors, brands and themes

Super Bowl 2018

The joke’s on us

Tide,
Tide, "It's a Tide Ad" Saatchi & Saatchi

Politics took a backseat at this year’s Super Bowl as brands chose to spend most of their $5m+ budget on celebrities and good old family friendly entertainment. A step change from 2017 where, following on from the Trump inauguration, brands such as 84 Lumber and Airbnb used the event to send politically motivated messages of belonging and unity.

This year’s comedic relief came at the expense of celebrities, brands and even the home viewer. Here’s how the best ads kept a record-breaking 114.4 million TV spectators glued to their seats.

Celebrity showdown

The celebs were out in force. In a generous 90 second spot, Alexa loses her voice and is replaced by famous faces including Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Hopkins (with a peacock), who add their own personal charm to the home assistant.
Amazon, "Alexa Loses Her Voice" Lucky Generals and D1

Another crazy mix of celebs came from Doritos and Mountain Dew. The brand collaboration saw Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklageto take part in a rap battle with Morgan Freeman, where they pitched the fire of Dinklage’s Doritos against the ice of Freeman’s Mountain Dew.
Doritos and Mtn Dew, "Doritos Blaze vs. Mtn Dew Ice" Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Encore!

Given the price tag, it might seem surprising that several brands released multiple ads during this year’s game. Another critics favourite was Tide. In a suite of four increasingly funny spots, Stranger Things’ star David Harbour parodies traditional commercial clichés as he explains why every ad is basically a Tide ad.  
Tide, "It's a Tide Ad" Saatchi & Saatchi

Jeep was an interesting one, releasing three very different ads made by three very different agencies. In the first spot, Jeff Goldblum revisits the famous chase scene from Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park. The second, ‘Anti-Manifesto’, undermines the inspirational imagery and empty promises of traditional car ads. Finally ‘The Road’ encourages viewers to leave the literal and metaphorical road behind and take the path less travelled.
Jeep, 'Jeep Jurassic' DDB Chicago; Jeep, 'The Road' FCB Chicago; Jeep, "Anti-Manifesto' Arnold Worldwide

Comedy Central

The laughs didn’t just come from the celebs. US telcomms company Sprint suggests that, in the future, robots have the potential to be more mocking than murderous, as an employee is teased by his mechanical colleagues for not saving money.
Sprint, "Evelyn" Droga5

Avocados From Mexico returns for its fourth consecutive year with more lighthearted fun. Featuring the comedian Chris Elliott, the brand plays up the versatility of avocados with a nod to that millennial favourite, avocado toast.
Avocados From Mexico, "#GuacWorld" GSD&M

Toilet humour

A few brands chose to poke fun directly at those watching the game. During the second quarter, and shortly before the big half-time bathroom break, air freshener Febreze introduced viewers to Dave, a guy whose #BleepDontStink and who, as a result, has never even heard of Febreze.
Febreze, "The Only Man Whose Bleep Don't Stink" Grey New York

Return to the movies

There’s no escaping America’s love affair with the movies and two of the best ads this year were a definite ode to Hollywood. To celebrate its newer, more lenient rules regarding end-zone celebrations, two of the NFL’s biggest stars Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. recreated the iconic climax to Dirty Dancing.
NFL, "Touchdown Celebration" Grey NY

Is it a film trailer? No it’s a ad for Tourism Australia that had everyone fooled. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride, this spoof campaign for a new Crocodile Dundee movie pretended to be real for weeks, before revealing itself as a tourism ad.
Tourism Australia, "Dundee" Droga5

Altruistic ads

Not all brands chose humour. There were some still using the Super Bowl to make a statement about wider societal issues. Verizon’s ad is a heartfelt salute to first responders after a year in which they were needed more than ever, given the wave of natural disasters across the U.S.
Verizon, "Answering the Call" McCann New York

Hyundai stopped owners passing through a ‘hope detector’ as they arrived at the ‘Super Bowl Experience’. The purchase of their car, these game-goers learn, helped to fund pediatric cancer research.
Hyundai, "Hope Detector" Innocean

Toyota looked beyond cars and into mobility of all kinds. "When we're free to move," the tagline concludes, "anything is possible." Case in point: the inspirational story of eight-time Paralympic gold medalist Lauren Woolstencroft.
Toyota, "Mobility for All" and "Good Odds" Saatchi & Saatchi and Dentsu

About the author

Kara Melchers, Managing Editor, BITE

Kara has editorial control over BITE, Creativebrief’s daily insight into global marketing trends and the cultural movements driving them. She runs BITE INSPIRE sessions in the UK and US, for brands including Virgin Atlantic, A.G. BARR, British Gas and Pepsico. She also presents at our BITE LIVE events series and industry festivals in London and New York. Get in touch if you’re working on an interesting project

kara.m@creativebrief.com