So, the game is over, the ads are played, and the money is spent. How did the advertisers fare in this year’s big game?

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Pepsi: Failed to Fulfill their Pre-Game Promise
One of the risks for the brand was playing it too safe with their game day ad. Not only did Pepsi play it too safe; the brand produced a classic example of a poorly executed montage spot.

The Pepsi spot, rather than capitalizing on the buzz they created with the Cindy Crawford teaser, presented a messy mix montage moments ranging from drive-in movies, to old ad clips, to a fake moonwalk, and celebrity snippets from Cindy Crawford and Jeff Gordon. With 12 different scenes, averaging 2.5 seconds each, there was little time for a viewer to engage with any of them, making it difficult to grab attention. While the product was a common theme throughout, it has a different from in nearly every setting, failing to act as an anchor for viewers, and in all likelihood, limiting the spot’s ability to tie to the brand. Finally, there is no progression from beginning to end – not temporal, emotional, or narrative. With neither a strong product focus, nor any kind of progression to engage emotionally, motivational power was held back as well.

Unfortunately, while Pepsi’s intended to activate nostalgic memories from viewers of all ages, the result left viewers with no branded memories at all.

Amazon and Tide: Did They Buy Success?
Two of the big adverting winners were Amazon’s Alexa Loses Her Voice, and the It’s a Tide Ad series. To be sure, both advertisers executed highly entertaining spots of great stories in which the products played a pivotal role. These are great ads. But both these advertisers ponied up well over the $5 million for 30 seconds to purchase 90 seconds of airtime each.

Up through 60-second spots, doubling the length of an ad increases the spot’s attention-getting power (based on time only) by about 10%. So, the Amazon and Tide spots got a certain amount of attention by being longer and/or repetitive. This creates an interesting conundrum for future Super Bowl advertisers. As longer ads become more ubiquitous in this event, it will be harder and harder for a mere 30-second spot to break through. Advertisers will need to consider if it’s worth the additional ad-length investment to level the playing field, or if they still see enough return on 30 seconds, given how far-reaching the platform is.

Budweiser: The right role for social responsibility
Budweiser’s Stand by You was a moving ad that highlights the company’s community service, without taking undeserved credit for the actions of others. The story creates a compelling narrative by hooking viewers with the opening mystery of why the worker is being called, building engagement with the reveal that the brand is canning water, and ultimately paying off with Budweiser’s role in disaster recovery efforts. This emotional journey shows how the brand did its small part to help, without in any way saying they completely solved a problem.

This spot was in stark contrast with Ram Truck’s Built to Serve that ostensibly paid tribute to great words spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago. Regardless of how well the ad was executed, the spot begs the question, is it ever right to use an important historic moment to promote a brand? Especially if the brand has no prior connection to the movement it’s referencing?

(Click here for a more in-depth look at how brands can promote social responsibility.)

Some Well-Targeted Hidden Gems
There are two ads in particular that, while not getting the same after-game buzz, in all likelihood reached and resonated with their core target.

The first is E*Trade’s This is Getting Old: a hysterical, and yet poignant, spot highlighting the emerging plight of seniors needing to work well past the age of 65. The humor of elderly workers at jobs of increasing age-inappropriateness was likely to break through to an audience starting to consider retirement. While the startling final statistic and E*Trade’s practical solution give the brand a strong pivotal role in the spot.

Second is Telemundo’s Mic Drop. A midst a sea of Winter Olympic promotions, Andrés Cantor’s climatic scoring call gives soccer fans a reason to hang on until this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup.

But, seriously, the Eagles actually won…
The Philadelphia Eagles won a nail-biting upset in the fourth quarter. The game was well played and exciting from beginning to end. It was a nice reminder that the Super Bowl is actually a football game!

Eldaa Daily is a Research Director at Ameritest