Super Bowl Commercials: What Worked and What Didn’t

The game was the thing, boomers become relevant, Dads too, and did Nationwide want us to buy life insurance on our kids?

Two years ago I wrote a piece for Huff Post noting how few Super Bowl ads were targeted to boomers. I criticized marketers for spending so much to market to younger people who had so little…cash. At that time the only time you saw someone with grey hair was when they were being made fun of. Times have changed. Most of this year’s ads targeted either a broad audience, boomers or parents in their 40’s.

Of the USA Today top 20 ads only Doritos was singularly focused on a younger audience with both its “When Pigs Fly” and “Middle Seat” spots. Even the Snickers “Brady Spot” harkened back to the 70’s. Car advertisers also targeted Boomers with BMW going with Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric to promote its electric car and Kia using Pierce Brosnan to show that a true super hero is the guy (with some grey in his hair) drives up to the big house at the top of the big mountain in his Kia with his beautiful  wife waiting for him. Fiat scored well with its Viagra spoof to show that Fiat isn’t just a tiny little fun car anymore but a real player. Dodge did well showing numerous people more than 100 years old.

Other ads that did well targeted a broader audience. Always “Like a Girl,” Budweiser, Coke and McDonald’s all did well in this category. No More’s “Listen” spot on Domestic Violence was powerful. It should also be noted that a number of NBC promos were very effective, though the shows that were promoted seemed pretty violent. Perhaps a new slogan for Thursday could be “Must Blow-Up TV.”

We know the biggest fail was Nationwide for which they have already apologized. That one got a “WTF” rating from the USC Sports Analytics Group. At first glance, or glance away, Jublia’s toe fungus spot seemed like it would have been better off as a video for podiatrists or pharmacists. Jublia might have had a better way to spend $4.5 Million for the ad plus the $5,000 in production costs. However, the “Nail and Toe Fungus Center” reports 12% of Americans have toe fungus (let’s keep our shoes on in the office people) so maybe they did reach a core audience.

Finally, one of the biggest challenges marketers may face is that it was such a fantastic game. The talk is clearly about the game going forward and not the advertisers. The Super Bowl Advertising “Post Game Show” has had a pretty short run.