With Super Bowl LIV sealed in the history books, it’s time to do some Monday morning quarterbacking. And while sports media pundits can debate whether the Chiefs won the game or the Niners choked it away, we’ll stick to our field of expertise at LRW: the TV ads!
We know as well as anyone just how much thought and attention goes into every detail for these commercials, many of which debuted in front of the biggest TV audience of the year. We even worked directly with a few brands to test and fine-tune their big game spots. And with 30-second Super Bowl ads selling for as much as $5.6 million, the stakes for brands to stick the landing were as high as they’ve ever been.
We asked our staff of marketing and research experts to offer their takes on which ads delivered the biggest impact in last night’s game.
Josh Verseput, Sr. Vice President, Digital Analytics: In the midst of three hours of movie throwbacks, celebrity cameos, and brands leaning on the usual “Super Bowl script” of elementary humor, Google’s “Loretta” spot pulled at emotional strings that no one expected. And it was extraordinarily on-brand, using technology to enhance the human spirit, to remind us that in an age of digital disruption, technology has the capacity to reinforce the things that matter most. While it may not be the ad everyone talks about as the funniest, I’d venture that it’s the ad that people will remember long into the future.
Danielle Moore, Research Manager: Talk about pulling on your emotional heartstrings – we all fell in love with Grandpop and Loretta! Sitting in a room full of people, the ad captivated every single person from the moment Grandpop typed “how to not forget” into the search box. As someone whose family has been personally affected by Alzheimer’s, tears welled in my eyes. The ad was powerful, showing technology as a tool that can now gift us memory of our most personal moments, even when as our memory seems to diminish. Just like Google Assistant, “I’ll remember that” ad.
Jeff Kaemmerling, Senior Research Manager: It was so emotional seeing an old man use technology to immortalize his wife in a beautiful and non-invasive way. It showed you how the power of technology, specifically that of Google Assistant, can preserve love and memories while transcending time (or at least make the process easier).
Paul Bergevin, Research Manager: This ad was one of the few that made everyone at the Super Bowl party stop talking and give their full attention to the ad. Many people teared up a little bit from the ad and were moved by the story. It had such a heartwarming and personal connection that it was the easiest ad to remember and the specific story made it feel authentic.
Kenno Hayashi, Research Manager: I think the Hyundai “Smaht Pahk” ad left the largest impression on viewers for a few reasons. First, it featured two of the most popular actors right now in Chris Evans and John Krasinski, as well as Red Sox legend, David Ortiz, and SNL Star, Rachel Dratch. In addition, Hyundai highlighted one of the key features of the redesigned Sonata in a humorous way that is sure to come up in conversation as viewers parody the ad with their peers. Lastly, they position the vehicle as the ultimate city car, able to park anywhere in the congested Boston metropolitan area. This should leave viewers a lasting impression of the Sonata: ‘I can have cool tech features without breaking the bank!’ When it comes time for these viewers to cross shop for their next vehicle, they will be asking the competition, “But does it have smaht pahk?”
Diana Akimoto, Communications Manager: Humor is such an effective advertising tool used by Hyundai in this ad! By employing the comedic talent of famous actors adopting exaggerated Bostonian accents to comment on the Hyundai Sonata’s “Smaht Pahk” feature, the ad not only demonstrates this innovative remote parking assist technology, it also enhances brand recall in the consumer.
Lori Collins-Jarvis, Vice President, Sales Enablement: “Smaht Pahk” was the most successful ad because it repeated the name of the product in a funny and very memorable way. Some ads were funny, like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” but the product was displaced by the parody. You remember the star, but not the product.
Sandy Wax, Chief Operating Officer: It takes a LOT to create big impact and relevance, but Jeep nailed it with their Groundhog Day add featuring Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil. How did they engineer this success? Start with an iconic movie, add one of the greatest comedic actors of our time, and throw in a fun and cute creature. Best of all, the ad’s message – ‘driving a Jeep is a thrill that creates pure joy’ – came through loud and clear. Creating impact is more than a breakthrough creative; it’s about driving home a clear and compelling message about your brand.
Madeleine Chansky, Research Director: I really liked the way this ad touched on nostalgia especially with the game being played on Groundhog Day, which I hadn’t truly considered until this aired. Seeing Bill Murray and other folks was fun and the groundhog itself was silly. Bill Murray with a groundhog in a baby carrier was a good visual.
Blair Coughlin, Research Associate: I enjoyed this commercial because I felt that it highlighted all of the great attributes that we Americans hold as a country. Regardless of all of the negative things happening in the world, watching this commercial made me proud to be an American. This commercial showcases a lot of strength and compassion that this country holds, and unfortunately sometimes people forget that. It shows how America is fueled by the great people within it.
Natalie Brink, Director, Global Data Collection: It reclaims “typical American” as a positive thing and makes you feel proud to be American in a real way.
Aaron Lewis, Marketing Communications Director: In a vacuum, I’d say that Google’s “Loretta” was the most touching and memorable ad. But we’re not watching these ads in a vacuum. Many of us are watching them at parties where we want escape and have a good time for 4+ hours. We don’t want to be over-reflective and emotional. That’s why I think “funny” is the way to go for any Super Bowl ad. And no single moment last night was funnier (or more jarring) than when Jason Momoa ripped off his muscles to reveal scrawny string bean arms . It was completely unexpected and had my entire party in stitches. The visual is still burned in my memory, which makes it a real “win” for Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage.
Brandon Grabowski, VP, Account Management: I loved that the Rick and Morty Pringles ad remained true to the characters while still allowing the “Pringles Stack” message to land clearly. Unlike other entertainment-heavy ads where characters were doing things out of context (e.g. arriving at Walmart en mass), the Pringles ad allowed Rick, Morty, and Summer to break the fourth wall, provide meta-commentary on a cultural event in which they are ironically participating, and escalate tension unexpectedly – all of which are things they are famous for doing in the show. It felt more like a random comedy bit contained within an episode than a commercial. At the same time, they said the brand name eight times and allowed the logo to take over the full screen twice.
DJ Jefferson, Executive Vice President: There were a number of good commercials, but this one seemed most likely to effect the desired change and behavior. It had an excellent hook, kept you engaged throughout, and surfaced a relatable and frequently unsolved problem with emotional underpinnings. My main concern with it was that the Dashlane name surfaced only briefly and at the end of the spot, and that it wasn’t clear why it was the solution. But it still seemed like it would be effective in getting people to check out the brand.
Ruvin Spivak, Associate General Counsel: It connected with me at an emotional level. Even though I haven’t used Facebook regularly in many years it made me think that maybe I was missing something by not being involved with various groups.
Kaitlin Griner, Research Associate: It was simple but fun and it made me laugh. There were also well known celebrities which definitely caught my attention. It was overall just a very playful and entertaining commercial, which I appreciated more over the dramatic or serious commercials.
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