The Super Bowl is always a wonderful advertising event, but this year is shaping up to be a particularly dynamic contest. There are some classic competitive battles unfolding. In addition, there are more advertisers: This year it looks like there will be 34 different brands advertising on the Super Bowl, up from 27 in 2009.
The big stories to watch:
-Bud and Bud Light: Anheuser-Busch is the master of Super Bowl advertising. Most years Bud and Bud Light air the spots people talk about the next day, the most popular and engaging commercials. The company will run more commercials than any other again this year. Will Bud and Bud Light carry the day?
-Doritos: Last year, Doritos ran two consumer-generated spots and did exceptionally well; the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review panel gave Doritos an “A” and one of the Doritos spots finished at the top of the USA Today ad poll. Doritos is running three consumer-generated spots this year and hopes to do even better. Will Doritos pull it off? Or was the 2009 success on bit of a fluke?
-CareerBuilder vs. Monster: Last year CareerBuilder and Monster both did well on the Super Bowl. The Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review panel gave both brands an “A,” with Monster just edging out CareerBuilder to take the top spot. Both companies are back this year for another round.
-Focus on the Family: This is the most controversial advertiser on the Super Bowl this year. The organization has kept the creative very quiet. What precisely is the message? How controversial is it? Should this sort of organization be allowed to advertise on the Super Bowl?
-Coke: After running some rather mediocre spots last year, the executives at Pepsi decided to pass on the Super Bowl this year for the first time in 23 years. This gives Coke a big opportunity to stand out. Dr. Pepper will be advertising, too, but Coke will have more time and should make a bigger splash.
-Denny’s: Last year Denny’s announced a free breakfast promotion on the Super Bowl. The company ran a wonderfully engaging spot and delivered a real call to action. Rumor has it we will see another free breakfast offer this year.
-GoDaddy: GoDaddy’s borderline offensive advertising has become a true Super Bowl tradition. Look for GoDaddy to run another provocative ad featuring scantily clad women. The only question: how offensive will this year’s ad be?
-Hyundai: Hyundai used the 2009 Super Bowl to rejuvenate the brand. The company is back with a bigger effort this year, including a heavy presence before the game and then at least two spots on the game. How will Hyundai use the time this year? Standing out will be more of a challenge; there are lots of auto advertisers this year, a huge change from 2009.
-E-Trade: The E-Trade baby was exceptionally popular in 2008 and 2009 and we will see the baby again this year. The challenge for E-Trade is to keep the creative fresh in year three.
-Chrysler: The U.S. auto industry is back on the Super Bowl this year; Chrysler is running a commercial for Dodge. Many people have criticized Chrysler for the purchase. The big question now is whether the commercial will actually give the Dodge brand a significant boost. Clearly this is one company that needs the help.
-Teleflora: Last year, flower delivery company Teleflora ran a commercial that many people found shocking and unpleasant; the spot featured a talking flower that insulted the recipient in a rather cruel manner. The brand is back this year. Watch to see if Teleflora sticks with the polarizing creative or moves to something a bit less edgy.
-HomeAway: This vacation rental Web site is a new advertiser on the game and will be running a spot featuring Chevy Chase. The challenge for HomeAway is to deliver a rather complex message in a short time. This is a difficult undertaking.
-Unilever: Dove for Men. Now that just doesn’t roll off the tongue. But that is the line Unilever will be introducing on the Super Bowl. Look for how Dove tries to take a brand aimed at women and “real beauty” to football-watching men. Will this make any sense at all? Will the spot actually hurt the base Dove brand?
There are lots of others to watch, too, enough that it will be hard to keep them all straight.
As you watch the spots, you can use the Kellogg ADPLAN framework to evaluate them on your own, or just think about the three Bs: breakthrough (does the spot stand out?), branding (is the brand clear?) and benefit (is there a reason to buy the product?)
Look for the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review results right after the game and a more detailed review here on the blog.
– Tim Calkins