Coke made two big moves this year. First, the brand embraced the polar bears, a classic branding icon. Second, Coke created a streaming website that featured the polar bears reacting to the game as it went along.
Both moves seemed like good ideas but in the end things didn’t quite work. The three polar bear spots became repetitive as the novelty wore out. And the streaming polar bears were really dull.
Coke ran right into a classic creative challenge: Making things interesting while sticking to a creative theme. Coke embraced the theme but ended up with creative that lacked punch.
Bud/Bud Light (C)
Bud and Bud Light are usually at the top of the Kellogg review, so it will surprise many to see them receiving a grade of C this year.
The grade is a bit misleading, however. Bud Light ran a classic funny, entertaining Super Bowl ad featuring a dog “WeGo.” This spot worked well; it was the sort of spot people expect to see on the Super Bowl. Budweiser ran two spots that referenced the brand’s long heritage and quality. These worked well, too; they were engaging and had strong branding.
AB got into trouble with Bud Light Platinum. The company ran two spots for Bud Light Platinum in the first half, including the all-important first ad in the game. The ads fell flat: They were very product focused, which is good, but they lacked the creative punch needed to stand out on the Super Bowl.
Bud Light Platinum might have a more significant strategic problem: What precisely is this brand? The ads didn’t make that clear, or at least it wasn’t clear to the Kellogg panel. The problem here might be deeper than the creative.
We were surprised to see the Kellogg student panel give Bridgestone a C this year, since we thought the spots were very strong. The branding was clear and the ads delivered a benefit: traction in the first ad, and quiet in the second ad.
Bridgestone has been a consistent Super Bowl advertiser, running spots that were distinctive but didn’t communicate a clear product benefit. This year the brand shifted focus and discussed benefits, which seems like a step forward.
Best Buy (C)
Some ads are a challenge to produce. You look at the spot and just know that the team behind it had to work incredibly hard to make it happen. You can put the Best Buy spot on that list.
The Best Buy ad featured a series of creative people who invented many of the things we now take for granted in the world of technology. It was remarkable to see them featured together in the same spot.
The problem: What does this have to do with Best Buy?
This spot had a linkage problem; there wasn’t much to connect the creative idea, the inventors, to the product being sold, Best Buy.
Wow. Teleflora really pushed the edge this year, telling the men of America to get some flowers so that you’ll later get some action. The ad advised, “Give and you shall receive.”
You have to give them credit for focusing on a benefit.
The ad focused on selling the category (flowers) over the brand (Teleflora). This was clearly a strategic choice, but a debatable one.
As one might expect, this ad was highly polarizing. Some members of the Kellogg panel gave it a very high score while others found it highly offensive.
You have to respect the folks who approved this idea: they certainly took a risk on this one. It may likely sell a lot of flowers.
Audi has used the Super Bowl to rebuild its brand, running a series of powerful spots over the past five years.
This year, Audi ran another big spot, a visually stunning story featuring exploding vampires. The ad focused on Audi’s bright headlights that turn night into day (and cause vampires to explode).
This spot fell a bit flat. Perhaps the core problem was the strategy: the ad focused on headlights. Now there are many reasons why people choose one car over another, but we suspect the headlights are rarely the differentiator.
This was a disappointing Super Bowl for VW. The brand ran the stand-out spot in 2011, a charming spot featuring a child Darth Vader character. This year VW worked very hard to do it again, releasing an elaborate teaser spot and then charming spot about a dog.
VW’s campaign was highly successful at generating buzz; the teaser spot received more than 10 million views on YouTube even before the game started.
But the Super Bowl disappointed many in our panel in the end. Branding and linkage were both fairly weak. Indeed, the spot didn’t make entire sense, with the dog working for months to lose weight in order to chase the new VW. Of course, after months the car wouldn’t still be new. The brand’s own internal dialogue of which spot was better was also viewed as odd by several people.
Met Life (C)
New advertiser Met Life did a fine job attracting attention; the spot featured a collection of familiar animated characters. The ad built on the Met Life’s brand equity, another positive. But the branding and benefit were both fairly weak.
This year we saw another year of Crash the Super Bowl and another collection of consumer-generated spots.
Doritos deserves credit for consistency; the brand has stuck with its proven formula for many years. This year the promotion focused just on Doritos, a positive change from last year when Pepsi Max joined the party.